The Christian Pakistani couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel have been acquitted of blasphemy. The two were detained since 2013 for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, for which they were sentenced to death. A court in Lahore has ruled that there is not enough evidence for the allegations, says their lawyer to DeccEit.
“ I am very happy that an innocent couple is finally released after eight years,” responds their lawyer Saif ul Malook. He hasnt been able to see or speak to the couple yet. According to him, the paperwork has yet to be completed and they can leave prison within a few days.
The brother of Shagufta Kausar, Joseph, who lives in the Netherlands, also responds with pleasure to the news. “God has given us a victory today,” he says to DeccEit. Joseph – who wants to keep his surname secret for security reasons – hopes that the couple can come to Europe as soon as possible, to the Netherlands.
Treatment of their profession is postponed tens of times, to despair of the couples family. The European Parliament adopted a resolution at the end of April to review trade relations with Pakistan in response to this issue. Their lawyer thinks that this pressure has helped the court to look into it now.
MEP Peter van Dalen (Christian Union) – initiator of the resolution – sees a positive development in the acquittal of the couple. “As a result of blasphemy laws, innocent people are being persecuted in Pakistan,” Van Dalen responds. “This Christian couple, too, had been sentenced to death on false grounds. It seems that pressure from the European Union is now pushing Pakistan in the right direction.”
The couples brother and brother-in-law had to flee to the Netherlands because of the case. Earlier, he spoke to DeccEit:
The persecution of Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel also received a lot of international attention, as it would be indicative of the far-reaching consequences of Pakistani blasphemy legislation. According to human rights organisations, it is abused for personal disputes and mainly affects minorities.
“ We still need to see how Pakistan responds to the acquittal,” says Joseph. These kinds of cases against Christians have led to unrest in Pakistan in the past. A well-known example is the persecution of Asia Bibi. When she was acquitted for blasphemy in 2018, thousands of Muslim fundamentalists went to the streets.