03/01/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Violent militancy is on the rise in Pakistan amid an increasing trend of religiosity. While many Pakistani officials have celebrated the growing embrace for adhering to stronger religious ties among the population to unite the country, this increase has actually created further militancy and extremism. This is evidenced by recent attacks from religious extremist cells against women’s rights advocates and some military personnel.
In addition to these attacks, the country’s religious minority communities (Christians, Shiite Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others) are being oppressed by the country’s controversial blasphemy law. The law is embraced by a prominent faction of Pakistan’s extremist Muslim community. The law’s intention is to safeguard the honor of religion, but in reality is used as a tool of oppression against the minority community. While many of the law’s victims include a prominent number of Shiite Muslims, religious minorities bear the brunt of the law.
ICC has tracked numerous cases in a recently updated report highlighting the cases of over 30 cases that are currently underway, though the actual number of blasphemy cases targeting Christians is much higher. These cases are officially verified incidents that tell a compelling story of how the law’s significant faults empower a culture of impunity for the oppressors and leave the innocent victims at a lifelong disadvantage in Pakistan.
While militancy is on the rise from one end of Pakistan society, the steady and growing trend of discrimination against Christians and other minorities is growing alongside.
One of the more prominent blasphemy cases was that of Asia Bibi, who was in prison and on death row for nearly a decade until she was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
ICC’s Advocacy Director, Matias Perttula said, “The blasphemy law is a stain on the record of human rights in Pakistan. While militancy and other forms of extremism are on the rise, one of the roots that empower this rise is the blasphemy law. Pakistan needs to deal with this law now and begin active steps to remove these extremist measures from society.”
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