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Pakistani woman saved from angry mob who mistook writing on dress for Koran verses

Even after she was cleared of blasphemy the woman made a statement apologising for her 'mistake'
Even after she was cleared of blasphemy, the woman made a statement apologising for her 'mistake' - CEN

A Pakistani woman had to be saved from a mob after she was accused of blasphemy when Arabic writing on her dress was mistaken for verses from the Koran.

The unnamed woman was cornered in a restaurant in Lahore and had to be escorted to safety after hundreds of people gathered outside.

Her dress bore the word “Halwa”, meaning beautiful in Arabic letters.

Blasphemy is punishable by death in Pakistan’s courts but accusations provoke such high feeling that those under suspicion are sometimes lynched before their cases reach trial.

The woman faced an angry mob of hundreds who didn't even know what the dress said
The woman faced an angry mob of hundreds who didn't even know what the dress said - CEN

Police told the BBC that no one in the crowd knew what the text said but rumours and anger quickly spread.

Video clips of the incident showed police forming a barrier to protect the woman as Assistant Supt Syeda Shehrbano, a senior officer, tried to negotiate with the growing crowd.

Assistant Supt Shehrbano said later: “Nobody actually knew what was written on the [dress].”

“The major feat was to try to get that woman out of the area in order to ensure that she is safe.”

“Had I not screamed and had I not convinced the crowd that we will do something about it, it would have turned nastier… Thank God.”

The writing on the dress read Helwa, meaning beautiful in Arabic
The writing on the dress read Helwa, meaning beautiful in Arabic

The woman was escorted from the restaurant to a police station, where religious scholars confirmed that the text was Arabic calligraphy, not verses from the Koran.

Police then asked the scholars to record a video stating their findings and that the woman was innocent.

The woman gave a public apology, saying: “I didn’t have any such intention, it happened by mistake. Still I apologise for all that happened, and I’ll make sure it never happens again,” adding that she is a devout Muslim and would never commit blasphemy.