Human rights and Christian advocacy groups welcomed the Pakistani parliament’s call to reform the country’s notorious blasphemy laws following the lynching of a university student. On April 14, a mob attacked and killed Mashal Khan, a university student, for what they claimed were blasphemous messages posted on social media. The killing sparked national and international outrage when video of the attack spread on social media. Many experts have observed that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abused to deadly effect. Often, the accused are subjected to mob violence and in some extreme cases are killed.
04/19/2017 Pakistan (Christian Today) – A Christian advocacy group has welcomed the Pakistani parliament’s plans to reform its controversial blasphemy laws.
The planned reform comes after a university student was killed by a mob on April 14 after being accused of blasphemy, according to the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), a group that supports persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
According to Pakistani laws, insulting Islam can incur the death penalty.
The murdered student was a member of Abdul Wali Khan University in north-western Pakistan and was beaten to death for allegedly promoting ‘blasphemous’ content on social media, including his views on socialism and the mystic aspect of Islam known as Sufism.
Another student was injured in the mob attack, after which university officials closed the campus. As many as 45 people have reportedly been detained in connection with the lynching.
A resolution by Pakistan’s National Assembly condemned the killing and said that legal safeguards needed to be implemented to avoid abuse of the country’s blasphemy laws.
CLAAS director Nasir Saeed welcomed the news. He said: ‘It is great news as in the past whoever tried to speak about changes in the blasphemy law was shut up and even threatened with death.
‘Those who raised their voices, like Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed in broad daylight, and their killers hailed as heroes.
‘I wish the Pakistani parliament had taken this step and realized the sensitivity of the issue earlier, saving many innocent people who were killed for a crime they never committed. Their lives could have been saved, but it is still not too late.’