Friday, February 4, 2011

Government of Pakistan will not amend blasphemy law

Pakistan's prime minister
said Wednesday the
government will not
amend the blasphemy law.
Christians in Pakistan received a blow yesterday. The government of Pakistan will not be amending the country’s controversial blasphemy law, reported ASSIST News Service.

This decision followed on the heels of massive countrywide protests against the government by Islamic and mainstream opposition parties who had taken to the streets to demand that there be no amendments to the blasphemy law that has been widely criticized around the world.

The protestors demanded that the Pakistani government make clear its stance over the issue of blasphemy law, which uses its Penal Code to prohibit and punish blasphemy against Islam.

The Criminal Code provides penalties for blasphemy ranging from a fine to death. An accusation of blasphemy commonly subjects the accused, police, lawyers and judges to harassment, threats and attacks. An accusation is sometimes the prelude to vigilantism and rioting.

The prime minister told parliament in a speech before the National Assembly in Islamabad, on Wednesday that his government would not touch the legislation, which human rights groups say is routinely abused to persecute minorities and settle personal scores.

The prime minister called upon parliamentarians, media and Islamic scholars to come forward and help the government of Pakistan to introduce a mechanism to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law. He also urged people protesting against the amendments to now “stop their protests as the government has made it clear that there will be no change in the Pakistan Penal Code Section 295 B & C.”

Most recently, the blasphemy law was used against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother, who was found guilty of the alleged crime and sentenced to death by hanging. Her case is currently being appealed.

You can read the full report here.

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