Blasphemy accusations against a 23-year-old Christian girl Sonia Bibi, has been withdrawn followed by the her innocence proven. Sonia Bibi resident of Christian Town, in Gujrat was accused of committing blasphemy by desecrating a panaflex which had sacred names and photos of clerics on it. The Christian respondent was found innocent after investigations it was revealed that the panaflex had photos of election candidates on it, therefore the accusations were proven baseless.
She decided not to flee but face the situation as in case she fled would land. “If I had run away, what would have happened to my Christian neighbors and their houses?” said 23-year-old Sonia. Soon after the blasphemy accusations, a charged mob of about 70 men gathered outside her house and chanted religious slogans. This is a rare occurrence when blasphemy complaint against a Christian has been withdrawn since it could not be verified.
In an unusually, bizarre step an Islamic cleric Khubaib Jalali, who was leading the mob against the Christian respondent withdrew the complaint himself. Khubaib is a cleric at a local mosque who hails from Mandi Bahauddin. Followed by the incident, all Christians in the Christian Town area became fearful and some of them fled. There are about 150 Christian families, in the neighborhood and three churches.
Sonia narrated the story and said,” About three years ago, her sister-in-law had eloped with my cousin Khalid Masih. A police case was registered against Khalid, but the matter was settled after the woman returned.” She further disclosed that Sharjila Komal, a seamstress came to her house to inform that she had stitched her niece’s clothes.
“When she was leaving, she saw a salvaged advertisement banner spread on the floor which had pictures of bearded politicians. My brother Shaukat Gill has an interest in politics, and these banners had been used in November last year during the local elections. Now we use them as dining sheets on the floor.”
Sonia’ brother Shuakat said that it was around 8pm that a mob of about 70 people gathered outside his house, and demanded that the blasphemous banner be handed over to them. “I invited 18 of their elders inside so that they could see that the banner bore no sacred inscriptions. They saw the banners, but were not satisfied. They said they would consult amongst themselves in the nearby mosque before making a decision.”
After inspecting the panaflex, the mobsters left for a local mosque, meanwhile Shaukat made a call to the emergency police hotline. “I feared that the mob would return and may attack us. The police arrived soon and brought the situation under control. We showed them the banners once again, in the presence of the police.”
The following day, the situation worsened and “Several Christians and Muslims suggested that I should flee the place, but I declined. If I would flee, the protesters would hurt other Christians and destroy their property. Whatever they want to do, they should do it to me and not to others.”
The cleric, Khubaib Jalali, withdrew his complaint saying: “I have investigated the matter,” while maintaining in his application. “No occurrence of blasphemy could be verified. As of now, I do not seek any legal action on my application.”