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World News

Christian couple share their escape from death row in Pakistan

by Kelly Valencia

A faith-based legal advocacy organisation has released a new documentary sharing the story of a Christian couple who escaped persecution in Pakistan.

Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, were accused of blasphemy and had been on a death row sentence for seven years before they escaped to Europe.

"We are so relieved to finally be free. The last eight years have been an unspeakable ordeal, but we are so happy to be reunited with our children," Emmanuel said. 

The couple was arrested in 2013 for allegedly sending a blasphemous text to a Muslim cleric. Both were beaten, arrested, and charged with blasphemy. 

Shafqat Emmanuel was already wheelchair bound at the time of arrest.

After several court hearings and with the help of ADF International, a court in Lahore acquitted them of their charges.

But despite their acquittal, the couple continued to receive death threats and had to flee to Austria.

Emmanuel continued: "We are very grateful that so many people, especially the teams from ADF International and the Jubilee Campaign, helped and protected us by bringing us to safety. 

"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 I."

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan, and although no one has been formally executed for it, dozens have been killed by mobs after being accused of the crime.

Speaking to Premier Christian News, Tehmina Arora, director of Advocacy Asia at ADF International said: "We've had several instances of blasphemy charges continuing in 2020 and in 2021 particularly bad but  we have seen increased international advocacy and we have also seen the courts being a little more receptive, but there's still a long way to go." 

ADF has released the documentary to mark UN's International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

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