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Pakistan – Blasphemy laws

June 2017

Pakistan’s parliament has called for a reform to its controversial blasphemy laws, following yet another death at the hands of an angry, fanatical mob.

The student, from Abdul Wali Khan University in north-western Pakistan, was allegedly set upon and lynched by Muslims for his views on sufi-Islam and socialism. He was killed by the mob, which cited the ‘blasphemy law’ that currently carries a death sentence.

After the attack, a resolution was passed by the National Assembly, which condemned the lynching and stated that safeguards must be included in the law to stop it being abused in the future. According to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), the student was brutally beaten to death over allegations he promoted ‘blasphemous’ content on social media.

Another student was injured in the incident, which took place on university premises, prompting officials to close the campus. Some 45 people were detained in connection with the mob attack.

Nasir Saeed, director of CLAAS-UK, welcomed the parliament’s resolution to introduce safeguards to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law and prevent the killing of innocent people.

He said, ‘It is great news, since, in the past, whoever tried to speak about changes in the blasphemy law was shut up and even threatened with death. Those who raised their voices, like Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed in broad daylight, and their killers hailed as heroes’.