A Christian couple was sentenced to death in July last year and sentenced to death last month in Pakistan for committing “blasphemy” via text messages. However, lawyers argue that both the man and woman are illiterate.
Fr. Aloysius Roy, Superior of the Pakistani province of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, told Fides News Agency in a report on Monday, “We are seriously concerned. Cases like these are common and cause great suffering. We continue to pray, while the issue remains unresolved.”
He added, “We express our solidarity, but Christians keep a low profile, because life is full of difficulties and dangers, and for us the first commandment is to survive. Christians are afraid and they move with extreme caution.”
Shafqat Emmanuel is apparently disabled, and his wife, Shagufta Kausar, works as a waitress and she is illiterate. Both were arrested in July of last year and sentenced to death last month.
Fr. Roy told, “From the government we expect respect for the law, the rule of law and freedom of worship provided for in the Constitution.”
The couple’s lawyer said that the Sim card from the phone comprising of the messages was not recorded in the couple’s name. The contents of the texts have not been released, lawyers claim that the couple could not possibly have sent the messages, as the couple is illiterate. William Stark, International Christian Concern’s regional manager for South Asia, told the Christian Post that Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws make people criticizing Islam punishable by death.
Humanitarian group World Vision in Progress took the responsibility of the couple’s four minor children. “If a bold step would not be taken from the Christian community soon then it would become impossible for them to live in Pakistan,” the organization has told.