International Advocates Target Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
07/16/2022 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – Last week, delegates from over 100 countries gathered together over two days for the fourth International Ministerial Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in London. At the event, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which are often used to harshly persecute Christians, drew particular attention.
David Alton, member of the British House of Lords, and Joël Voordewind, a former parliamentarian from the Netherlands, condemned the blasphemy laws’ discrimination against minority groups, emboldening of extremists, and use of the death penalty as a potential punishment. The duo of Alton and Voordewind also took the initiative to specifically advocate for Shagufta Kiran, one of the many Christians imprisoned under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Pakistani authorities arrested Shagufta, a mother of four, in July of 2021 for allegedly proliferating blasphemous materials in a WhatsApp group chat.
Others, such as Joseph Janson, chairman of the Voice for Justice, also chimed in against Pakistan’s unjust blasphemy laws. Janson, speaking to UCA news, demanded, “The state must implement measures to prevent violence, persecution, and discrimination on the basis of religion and stop the misuse of the blasphemy laws by requiring all cases to undergo prior judicial review before charges are made.”
Beyond the injustice of the blasphemy laws, the general state of religious freedom in Pakistan came under fire in a panel discussion focused on the country. In the panel discussion, multiple speakers from organizations like Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) UK discussed the status quo in Pakistan and examined the roots of persecution and intolerance in the South Asian nation. CSW’s Cecil Chaudhry asserted, “The state has failed in protecting its vulnerable and marginalized communities. It is unable to enforce rule of law and has allowed for the extremist mindset to grow and give way to mob violence.” We pray that the voices of advocates around the world would have an impact in Pakistan, pushing them towards greater justice and religious freedom for Christians.
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