Friday, December 31, 2010

Pakistan’s government refuses to review blasphemy laws

Pakistan's government is refusing to
review blasphemy laws like the one
under which Asia Bibi has been
sentenced to death.
The government of Pakistan has backed out its commitment to review the country’s controversial Islamic blasphemy laws, reported ASSIST News yesterday.

The government’s move is to appease Islamic religious groups who have announced that they will shutter their businesses on New Year’s Eve to protest against any move to amend the laws.

On Thursday, the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Syed Khursheed Shah, requested that merchants and those in favour of the blasphemy laws call off their nationwide, December 31 shutdown of businesses, because the government has no intention of changing or repealing these laws.

One week ago, the Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, declared that despite various pressures the government would definitely review the laws.

In the 1980s, the late General Zia-ul-Haq introduced Islamic laws against the “blasphemy” of Islam, Muhammad, the Qur’an and Islamic personalities. The laws have widely been misused against Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus and liberal Muslims. Christians and human rights groups have been demanding for the total repeal of the laws.

On Wednesday, the government in the National Assembly categorically denied any move to amend or repeal the blasphemy laws.

“The government considers that its prime responsibility is to protect this law, and it will never support any private members’ bill even from the treasury benches in this regard,” said the federal minister in a policy statement.

You can read the full report here.

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