News 14 Jul 2023

Pakistan - Tabitha: My new life

Christian nurse tells of escape from her torturers.

A Pakistani Christian nurse, who narrowly escaped being lynched by a large mob of people after being accused of blasphemy, has spoken of her joy after arriving in North America to start a new life with her family.

Video footage of Tabitha, now 32, being beaten up by colleagues went viral in early 2021 after she was accused of insulting the prophet of Islam, breaking 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries the death sentence. 

The hospital nurse was forced into hiding while police investigations continued. 

Now, more than two years later, in an exclusive interview with the UK national office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic charity for persecuted Christians, Tabitha and her husband described fleeing Pakistan.

They went on to highlight “the miracle” of being granted an immigrant visa to a new country in the West, which cannot be disclosed for safety reasons.

Living under tight security, she and her husband are together with their two boys, whose names are also withheld.  

She said: “I am thankful to Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, for giving me my freedom. Jesus is mighty to save.” 

The evangelist Gospel singer described the moment in January 2021 when her life in Pakistan turned upside down. 

The climax came when she was set upon by colleagues. She said: “The mob wanted to kill me but I kept praying to Jesus and I opened my eyes and I felt I saw angels and from that moment I knew that I would be saved.”

She thanked those who had secured her safe passage out of Pakistan including Christian leader the Reverend Iftikhar Indryas, an advocate for persecuted faithful.

Mr Indryas said: “All Glory to Jesus. He is the one who has saved her. We are simply his servants.”

In her ACN interview, she described how, as head nurse at Sobhraj Maternity Hospital in Karachi, disaster struck when she disciplined a colleague whom she witnessed taking a bribe from a patient in contravention of the institute’s rules. 

Tabitha said the co-worker responded by accusing her of blasphemy.  

Hospital staff surrounded her and she was beaten repeatedly and tied up with ropes and forced to make an apology. 

She was locked in a room until the police arrived and arrested her.

The police released her saying they could not find any credible evidence against her. 

But a mob of hundreds of extremists surrounded the police station and forced the authorities to file a First Information Report (FIR) against her. 

Tabitha and her family went into hiding but, with the case still pending, they were spirited out of the country, living in an undisclosed location in the Middle East where they received residency cards. 

But now, having arrived in the West, Tabitha told ACN she wanted to dedicate her life to advocacy for persecuted Christians in Pakistan. 

In a message to fellow Pakistan Christian nurses Mariam Lal and Newosh Arooj, in hiding after being charged with blasphemy, Tabitha said: “I want them to know that we are praying for them and that we stand with them. 

“I will work for persecuted Christians until I take my last breath.” 

Her husband added: “We are so thankful to be where we are now. We know we will never be able to go back to Pakistan.”

 - By John Pontifex 

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