Pakistan’s blasphemy laws
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called upon Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws used to oppress Christians and other non-Muslim minorities. CSW National Director Stuart Windsor welcomed a recent decision by the Pakistani government to endorse the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but noted the obligations of nationals under the ICCPR conflicted with the Pakistani penal code.
‘Under Pakistan penal code 295C (which deals with blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed) some 892 people have been punished over the last 22 years, many of them Muslims as well as Christians; and 22 to 25 have been killed arbitrarily’. And while the state has never executed anyone for blasphemy, ‘once a person faces a blasphemy charge then their life is over in terms of what they face if they’re released from prison’.
The CSW said the blasphemy laws were deeply flawed, as they failed to adequately define the offence; could be prosecuted upon the testimony of one person alone; and had been used by Islamists to intimidate Christians and other religious minorities.
In May Pakistani police in the Punjab jailed a Christian doctor after ‘blasphemy’ charges led to a mob attack on his home. Officials said Dr Robin Sardar is being held in Punjab’s Gujranwala Central Jail, and his wife and six children have left their home in the town of Chak Chatta, 200 miles southeast of Islamabad.