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ICC Note:
Christians in Pakistan received startling news when they read a statement made by a Muslim cleric once thought to be liberal. The cleric said that Pakistan should not release blasphemers in reference to allowed Christian accused of blasphemy being allowed to pay bail prior to being convicted in court. Many Christians in Pakistan fear that this statement from this cleric, who had assisted Christians in the past with issues related to blasphemy laws,  marks a change in attitude for Pakistan’s identity and treatment of Christians as a whole. Please pray for those falsely accused of blasphemy in Pakistan
4/17/2014 Pakistan (Pakistan Christian Post) – Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti, President of Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) has expressed concern and surprise over the statement of Allama Tahir Ashrafi that appeared in a section of media. The statement read “We cannot release blasphemers” in context to Christians behind bars on accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan.
Dr. Nazir Bhatti said, “Allama Tahir Ashrafi is very a enlighten Muslim cleric and Pakistani Christians will never forget his valuable support in Rimsha Masih case, who proved later to be a Down syndrome minor Christian girl wrongfully accused under blasphemy charges in capital city of Islamabad. His recent statement not to release blasphemy accused victims is really surprising and needs clarification.”
“The victims of blasphemy behind bars have denied defiling the name of Prophet Mohammad and their cases are in the courts. They deserve the due right of justice and to be released. The statement of Allama Tahir Ashrafi has hurt the feelings of families of victims of blasphemy,” added Nazir Bhatti.
After Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) has come into power in Pakistan, the victims of blasphemy Sawan Masih from Lahore and Christian couple Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta from Kasur were sentence to death. It is feared by Pakistani Christians that these sentences were mande under pressure from Taliban meaning justice will not be ensure to falsely accused Christians. The appeal against death sentence of blasphemy victim Asia Bibi, which was deferred from Lahore High Court twice in a month, seems to be changing the policy of justice towards blasphemy in Nawaz Sharif regime.
“Pakistani Christians still remember proposal of Allama Tahir Ashrafi in Islamic Ideology Council ICC to stop misuse of blasphemy laws which caused him strong opposition. It was such a relief for Pakistani Christians that he presented their sentiment to such a high forum, but suddenly the most recent statement of Allama has hurt feelings of millions of Pakistani Christians,” said Nazir Bhatti.

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