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ICC Note:

Following reports that Pakistan would propose legislation to help curb the abuse of the country’s blasphemy laws, some Christians have claimed that it will be very difficult for the current government to pass the proposed legislation. Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan are disproportionately accused and punished under the blasphemy laws. In many cases, mere accusations of blasphemy against a Christians is enough to spark mob violence against entire Christian communities. Is the current government able to pass the reform necessary to protect Pakistan’s minorities from the widely abused blasphemy laws? 

5/29/2015 Pakistan (Christian Post) – Human rights activist Pervez Rafique, who’s also a former minority member of parliament representing the Pakistan People’s Party in Punjab, said it will be hard to change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which he said are upheld by an Islamic government that has “strong relations” with Muslim extremists

Such blasphemy laws are often used to persecute minorities, and Christians in the country have been facing a growing wave of violence, with a Protestant church destroyed and six Christians beaten by armed men in Chakwal in Punjab in an incident on Thursday.

Rafique told The Christian Post in an email interview on Thursday that those presently in power in Pakistan are known for having a “pro-Taliban, pro-Islamic ideology” and said that they have “strong relations with Muslim extremist organizations.”

He pointed out that 80 percent of blasphemy accusations against Christians have occurred in Punjab, where Christians have been violently attacked on a number of occasions.

Fides News Agency reported that the latest attack occurred in Chakwal, when Pastor Suhail Masih and five other members of the Protestant church were beaten by armed men who stormed the house of worship. Reports have said that Masih and the other church members were being accused of “proselytism and conversions of Muslims,” while the attack is believed to have been instigated by a local imam.

While Christians in the community protested and called for police to take actions against the attackers, so far only two men were arrested but later released by authorities.

Some Christians in Pakistan, such as human rights lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, have said that blasphemy laws, which Muslim mobs sometimes take in their own hands, need to be abolished.

Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, told Fides: “No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. Mass attacks against entire communities show that hate against Christians is growing. The blasphemy law is widely used for revenge, but the government has not yet managed to take steps to stop the misuse of the law and ensure security for Christians. If those responsible are not punished, those who attack with impunity Christian neighborhoods and churches are encouraged.”

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