A Christian nurse in Pakistan was accused of blasphemy against Islam following a disagreement she had with a Muslim co-worker. The dispute led to an alleged assault against the woman, who is now in hiding for her safety.
International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that Tabitha Nazir Gill, 30, was criticized by a colleague on Jan. 28 while they were working at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi.
The head nurse at the hospital directed medical staff not to receive tips or handle any money from patients. Gill reminded a coworker of the directive after she reportedly witnessed that co-worker receive money from a patient.
As a result, the Muslim coworker wrongfully accused Gill of committing blasphemy. According to ICC, hospital staff bound and tortured her, then locked Gill in a room until police arrived.
Police released Gill to her family and did not find any credible evidence that she had committed blasphemy. They tried to protect the nurse and address the issue, but hundreds of Muslims met at the police station and forced the authorities to file a First Information Report (FIR) against Gill.
“Police have provided protection to the victim and tried to resolve the issue,” a source told ICC. “However, a mob of hundreds of Muslims gathered at the local police station to force the police to register a FIR against Gill. This FIR was lodged today.”
The accusation remains under investigation.
Christians and other religious minorities continue to be prime targets for abuse under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Pakistan is one of the top six countries with the highest number of blasphemy cases, according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
“We here at International Christian Concern condemn the false blasphemy allegation that has been leveled against Tabitha Nazir Gill,” said ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark. “In Pakistan, blasphemy allegations forever ruin the lives of the accused, even if proved to be false.”
“We call on Pakistani authorities to thoroughly and fairly investigate this false allegation and bring the false accuser to justice. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws must no longer be allowed to settle personal scores or incite religious hatred. Too often these laws have been a tool in the hands of extremists seeking to stir up religiously motivated violence against minorities.”