ASIA/PAKISTAN - Blasphemy law, the Church hopes for an imminent change

Thursday, 4 February 2016 blasphemy   human rights   religious minorities   religious freedom  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) - "We welcome the reflection and steps taken by the Council regarding the ideology and we hope that an amendment of the blasphemy law, to prevent further abuse, is imminent. Already the President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, during the meeting with us Bishops and other religious leaders last year, informed us that he would try to do his best. The abuse of the law, used for other purposes, hurts many Muslim and Christian Pakistani citizens, and all religions, unjustly destroying the lives of many innocent people. We hope for a change for the better": This is what His Exc. Mgr. Sebastian Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore told Agenzia Fides, talking of possible changes to the blasphemy law, consisting of three articles of the criminal Code that punish with life sentence or death penalty, the contempt of the Islamic religion.
In recent days the President of the Islamic Ideology Council, Muhammad Khan Sherani, expressed a willingness to review the blasphemy law. In a country where criticism to Islam is a highly sensitive topic, this step was for years impossible, and even publicly discussing it was a taboo. Sherani could reopen the debate and give Parliament and the Government recommendations that propose changes considered necessary to prevent abuse of the law. According to Nasir Saeed, a Christian activist and director of the NGO CLAAS (Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement), committed to defending the rights of Christians in Pakistan, "President Sherani’s words are encouraging, given that until a few years ago one could not even discuss this law". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 04/02/2016)