A Pakistani Christian couple, who were acquitted of blasphemy after seven years on death row, have fled the country, as reported by CNA.
Last week, Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel received asylum in a European country that has not been named, to preserve the couple’s safety.
“We are so relieved to finally be free,” Shafqat told ADF, an organisation that advocates for religious freedom, as quoted by CNA. “The last eight years have been incredibly hard, but we are so happy to be reunited with our children,” he said.
Image: Shagufta and Shafqat were on death row for seven years, but have now fled to Europe
In June, the Lahore High Court overturned the couple’s death sentence. Since their release they have received death threats.
“Although we will miss our country, we are happy to finally be somewhere safe. Hopefully, the blasphemy laws in Pakistan will soon be abolished, so others won’t suffer the same fate as Shagufta and me,” he said.
In July 2013, Shagufta, who can’t read or write, was accused of having sent blasphemous text messages to a cleric. Shafqat, who is disabled, was forced into making a false confession after he was beaten and threats of abuse were made against his wife. In 2014 the couple were sentenced to death by hanging.
They spent the next seven years awaiting the outcome of an appeal filed by their lawyer, Saiful Malook, who also defended Asia Bibi. Bibi was released in 2018 after nine years on death row for allegedly committing blasphemy in an argument with a Muslim woman. After her release, she also fled the country for fear of her life and moved with her family to Canada.
Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws are used to target Christians, and Islamic extremist groups vehemently ‘defend’ these laws, including attacking or killing those believed to have broken them. Often these are used to target Christians after a dispute relating to work or tenancy, rather than genuine cases.
Pakistan is number 5 on the Open Doors World Watch List, and Christians make up less than two per cent of the population.
*Name changed for security reasons.
For Shagufta and Shafqat to receive God’s joy, love and strength with fresh abundance
That Christians in Pakistan would find community and have access to God’s Word.
That blasphemy laws would not be abused to target Christians, and that the death penalty for blasphemy would be abolished
Find out more
Find out more
Leah was taken from her school with over 100 other students by Islamic extremists 7 years ago. Whilst the other girls were released, Leah was kept in captivity as she refused to give up her faith in Jesus.
Abdulla was forced to flee Afghanistan when the Taliban took control, but instead of heading to Europe as was his plan, God is using him powerfully in a neighbouring country…
Christians in North Korea, the toughest place on earth to be a Christian, share their hope and thanks…
Attacks against Christians in the DRC are increasing. Pray for those who have been abducted and those who have lost loved ones…
Rehena, a Pakistani Christian, shares what life is like in the seventh most dangerous place in the world to follow Jesus.
See how the crisis in the Red Sea is impacting the secret Church inside Yemen…
Recent incidents in Vietnam have highlighted the increasing pressure and intimidation facing Christians and Church leaders…
Christians in a village in southern Laos have been targeted, with the homes of two families set alight and destroyed…
Pray for strength and peace for a number of Christians arrested in Iran over Christmas…
‘This is my last and final decision: for the rest of my life I will follow the Lord Jesus Christ…’