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ICC Note:

On Sunday night, Christians and Muslims in Pakistan rallied together calling for the government to take immediate steps to stop abuses related to the country’s blasphemy laws. This rally comes in the wake of the murder of a young Christians couple who were accused of committing blasphemy. The murder shocked both the Pakistani and international media. Will Pakistan reform the way it handles cases of blasphemy or will this movement, like so many others, die out over time? 

11/17/2014 Pakistan (Asia News) – The Pakistani government must take “immediate steps” to stop abuses related to the country’s blasphemy laws, and punish those found guilty of making false accusations out of revenge or in order to settle personal scores.

The government must take charge of security in order to prevent outbreaks of mob violence and attacks incited by local religious leaders and extremist groups.

To achieve this goal, it is essential to ensure better training in the army and police forces whose leaders must be held accountable in the event of non-compliance or if they deliberately fail to intervene to prevent or thwart crimes and abuses.

Activists, religious leaders and ordinary citizens, Christians and Muslims, pressed these demands during a candlelight vigil held yesterday in Faisalabad, Punjab.

During the protest, demonstrators remembered the tragic murder of a young Christian couple, burnt alive by an angry mob because they were deemed “guilty” of blasphemy.

The initiative was sponsored by the National Minorities Alliance of Pakistan (NMAP), in cooperation with the Joshwa Welfare Organization (JWO) and the Muslim Masihi Ittehad (MMI).

The rally brought together more than a thousand people, including priests, nuns, activists, human rights defenders, students, children and representatives of Christian and Muslim groups.

Brandishing placards, they chanted slogans in praise of peace and the protection of the rights of persecuted minorities.

At the end of the march, at Gate Square, protesters together recited a inter-religious prayer for Shama and Shahzad, the latest innocent victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

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