Shafqat and Shagufta’s story – Pakistan
After 7 years on death row accused of blasphemy, this couple was acquitted but had to flee the country with their children due to death threats.
On 3 June 2021, Christian couple Shafqat and Shagufta were acquitted of blasphemy, after spending seven years on death row. Imprisoned since 2013, the couple were convicted and sentenced to death in April 2014. Shagufta worked as a caretaker in a Christian school, whilst her husband Shafqat is partially paralysed. They faced execution for allegedly sending ‘blasphemous’ texts to a mosque cleric, from a phone containing a SIM card registered in Shagufta’s name.
The couple have consistently denied the allegations and believe Shagufta’s National Identity Card was purposely misused to obtain the card and send the messages following a minor dispute with a neighbour.
Their appeal was due to be heard in April 2020, six years after they were sentenced, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The couple’s four children remained in hiding throughout the delay, since the blasphemy accusations could lead to extremist attacks against them. The couple faced death threats after the news of their acquittal broke. The family have since sought refuge in another country.
BBC World News 3 June 2021