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Pakistan ’s Islamic Political Parties Warn Government

Not to Amend Blasphemy Law

Washington , D.C. (November 3, 2009)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 31, two prominent Islamic political parties warned the government of Pakistan not to amend or repeal the blasphemy law. The law has been a major cause of violence against Christians.

According to the Daily Times, Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan and the Tehreek Tahafuz-e-Haqooq Ahl-e-Sunnat, mainstream political parties with large supporters, threatened to call for protests if the law is altered. The Daily Times quoted Hafiz Abdul Guffar Ropari, the leader of Jamaat Ahl-e-Hadith Pakistan , as saying that the government of Pakistan must not amend the law “if it wants to remain in power.”

Pakistan ’s blasphemy stipulates that defaming the Islamic prophet Mohammed or desecrating the Qur’an is punishable by death and life imprisonment respectively.

Muslims have used the law to repeatedly incite violence against Christians. In August, a Muslim mob killed 11 Christians and burned down over 40 Christian homes following false allegation of desecration of the Qur’an in the Pakistani city of Gojra .

Muslims also have been the victims of the blasphemy law. According to the State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom, in 2008 alone, 17 Muslims and 25 Ahmedis were arrested for allegedly violating the blasphemy law.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa and South Asia , Jonathan Racho said “It’s unfortunate that political parties stand in the way of repealing the blasphemy law which has been misused against Christians, Muslims, and Ahmedis. We urge the government of Pakistan to end the misuse of blasphemy laws by repealing it once and for all.”