President of Pakistan Criticizes France on Religious Freedom
02/22/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – President Dr. Arif Alvi called on French leaders to not let discriminatory attitudes against Muslims be made into law. The comments were made at an international conference on religious freedom and minority rights held in Islamabad on Saturday. He went on, however, to criticize the West’s freedom of expression as it pertains to ‘blaspheming’ the Islamic prophet Muhammad, calling such speech an insult to the global Muslim community.
Pakistan has some of the strictest blasphemy laws in the world accompanied by punishments including the death penalty. The laws are often used by the majority community to discriminate against religious minorities. ICC has verified a number of cases of blasphemy in Pakistan and compiled them in a report. Additional cases exist, but may not be included in the report for a number of reasons.
The nature of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws has created a cultural norm where the majority Muslim community can use the laws to threaten Christians and other religious minorities and gain an advantage in personal and professional matters.
During his remarks at the event over the weekend, Alvi stated that Pakistan is emerging as a country of harmony for all religious and faiths. While certain instances might attempt to break this harmony, he said, the nation will stay consistent in its path towards religious tolerance.
In reality however, the Pakistani government is not protecting its religious minorities. At all levels of government, civil society, and the professional world, religious minorities are faced with ongoing discrimination ranging from workplace discrimination to outright violence. A religious minority can never be president in Pakistan—the constitution of Pakistan limits Christians and other religious minorities in this regard. The sentiment set forth in this statue permeates the entire society where many Muslims find it insulting to be working under a religious minority. Pakistan has a long way to go before they can truly claim they’ve created a free and fair society for all.
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