March 14, 2012
A young Pakistani mother has been falsely accused of "blaspheming" the Islamic prophet Muhammad because she rebuffed attempts by relatives who had converted to Islam to force her to renounce her Christian faith, Compass Direct News reports. Police charged 26-year-old Shamim Bibi, mother of a five-month-old girl, under Section 295-C of Pakistan's "blasphemy" statutes after neighbors accused her of uttering remarks against Muhammad and arrested her on Feb. 28. Under the internationally condemned blasphemy laws, speaking ill of Muhammad is punishable by life imprisonment or death. Bibi's brother-in-law, Shahbaz Masih, said one of the two men named as witnesses had denied hearing anything that supported the charge, and police superintendent Irfan Ullah acknowledged that one of the two witnesses had admitted to not being present at the time of the alleged remark, but Ullah vehemently denied that police had caved in to pressure from local Muslims and registered the case in undue haste.