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2013-03-13

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Religious and civil society: it is urgent to revise the law of blasphemy

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - The urgency for reform of the blasphemy law, its rules and procedures: is what the orders and religous Catholic congregations in Pakistan ask for in an appeal sent to Fides Agency, through their "Justice and Peace Commission".
The appeal was drawn up and signed, together with a number of civil society organizations in Pakistan as "Organization for Development and Peace", "Human Rights Commission Pakistan", "Awaz Foundation", "SPO Pakistan" ("Strengthening Participatory Organization").
The appeal notes that serious accidents of the "Joseph Colony", against Christians, "shows how the government has failed and proved to be insensitive to protect minorities" and calls for "immediate steps to protect the lives of religious minorities" and the reconstruction of houses.
One of the necessary steps, they say, is the revision of the blasphemy law, its rules and procedures, in order to "discourage religious extremism."
Meanwhile, there are initiatives of solidarity: the Minister of Religious Affairs Punjab has announced that on March 15 there will be a "Day of Tolerance", in which the entire nation will show solidarity with the Christian community. The initiative was a proposal by the "Council of Ulama" and some Christian leaders, including Paul Bhatti, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Religious Harmony. A multilateral conference between political parties and movements, to discuss the theme of religious harmony, has instead been announced for March 20, thanks to the initiative of Maulana Tahir Hafiz Ashrafi, who had already spoken out in the case of Rimsha Masih (the disabled Christian girl acquitted for blasphemy), supporting her innocence.
Meanwhile, the federal government, on the initiative of President Ali Zardari has already paid the families affected 500 thousand rupees for each house destroyed, in order to start the rebuilding. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 13/03/2013)

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