ASIA/PAKISTAN - Abuse of the blasphemy law: the floor to the government of Imran Khan

Monday, 3 September 2018

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The improper use of the blasphemy law continues in Pakistan, but "it is still unlikely that amendments to defuse these abuses are applied to the controversial legislation", says a Pakistani journalist and commentator Tehreem Azeem in a note sent to Fides, recalling that the law continues to be called into question to resolve personal disputes, falsely accusing someone and generating mass attacks or lynchings of the accused.
Since 1990, 70 people have been lynched in Pakistan for alleged blasphemy charges, while another 40 have died or are serving a life sentence on blasphemy charges.
Among the victims, there are also members of religious minorities, as happened in a recent case: in Muslim town, in the district of Gujranwala, a young Christian, Farhan Aziz, 26, was accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and was arrested on 2 August. Soon after, members of the "Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan" party surrounded the only street in the city where Christians live, threatening an attack and forcing the faithful to flee.
Another recent case caused an uproar: in Lahore an artist of Sindh, Qutub Rind, who arrived in Punjab for an art exhibition, was killed after false accusations of blasphemy, following a quarrel with the owner of the apartment where he was staying. The man and some accomplices beat him, fractured his limbs and pushed him down from the third floor of a building. Upon the arrival of the police, they invoked, in an apparently instrumental way, the blasphemy law.
The Special Committee of the Pakistan Senate for Human Rights in 2017 recommended that authors of false accusations of blasphemy are to be given the same punishment imposed on those who commit blasphemy. Now one will see how the new government of Imran Khan, winner of the recent general elections and the 19th Prime Minister of Pakistan, will take action: organizations of religious minorities and civil society ask that they commit themselves to passing the amendments to the blasphemy law, preventing 'abuse for personal reasons. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2018)


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