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Persecution Pakistan – Blasphemy laws

March 2016

There has been renewed hope for Pakistani Christians, as a leading cleric announced a willingness to review its controversial and hard-line blasphemy laws.

According to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (Claas), the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Muhammad Khan Sherani, has said that he is willing to review the laws, which have seen many Christians jailed and tortured in the Islamic country.

In a statement, Claas said: ‘Pakistan’s religious and political elite almost universally keep clear of debating blasphemy laws in a country where criticism of Islam is a highly sensitive subject. Even rumours of blasphemy have sparked rampaging mobs and deadly riots’. However, now Mr Sherani has reportedly said he was willing to reopen the debate and see whether sentences as harsh as the death penalty were fair.

He added that the council could seriously consider the matter and give its recommendations on whether the law is too harsh or soft, and whether it needs to be amended.

Currently, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws mandate the death penalty. Poor, uneducated Christians are often targeted and falsely accused of blasphemy in order to settle personal scores.

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