Asia Bibi's cell neighbor testifies to her 8 years on death row in Pakistan

“Several times I was told that if I converted to Islam, my death sentence would be changed to life imprisonment and I would eventually be released. I always said no. (…) I would rather be hanged than deny Jesus Christ. »

Shagufta Kausar was arrested in 2013 along with her husband, Shafqat Masih. In Pakistan, they were accused of blasphemy for sending text messages offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. For 8 years, she remained on death row.

Acquitted for lack of evidence with her husband in 2021, she continued to receive death threats. A call for their elimination had been launched on social networks. It was finally in Europe that the Pakistani Christian couple obtained the right of asylum.

The organization Aid to the Church in Need was able to interview Shagufta. She begins by explaining the origin of the initial judgment for blasphemy.

“In prison, we were tortured. The police told my husband that if he didn't confess, they would rape me in front of him, so he confessed, even though we were both innocent. »

Shagufta and Shafqat remained 8 months in prison before hearing the judgment which decided their death sentence. Following this verdict, Shagufta suffered attempts at blackmail.

“Several times I was told that if I converted to Islam, my death sentence would be changed to life imprisonment and I would eventually be released. I always said no. (…) I would rather be hanged than deny Jesus Christ. »

While their parents were incarcerated, the children had to “hide from Muslim fundamentalists who threatened to attack them”.

It was the release of her cellmate with whom she prayed, Asia Bibi, that gave her hope. Now released and a refugee in Europe, she regrets that she can no longer live in Pakistan because of the extremists who threaten her life.

MC

Image credit: Creative Commons / Flickr

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