Pakistani Christians Gather in Geneva to Protest U.N. Inaction on Blasphemy Law

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by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Pakistani Christians rallied at the U.N. earlier this week demanding action on Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy law, joined by members of European Parliament and human rights activists.

The protest was held at Palais Wilson, the current Headquarters for the United Nations High Commissioner for human rights, during the 40th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and follows a similar effort by Pakistani believers in September of last year to gain support from the international body against the persecution of religious minorities in their country.

“If we have an altercation with any person, they put us under PPC 295C,” said Frank John, a Pakistani Christian who attended the protest, in reference to the article of Pakistan’s legal code that forbids slander against the Prophet Muhammad.

“We always remain in fear of its misuse,” explained John.

The said article made headlines in January when Pakistan’s top court upheld the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman held in solitary confinement for almost ten years after a Muslim coworker accused her of making dishonoring remarks toward the Prophet.

Despite repeated attempts by concerned parties to garner international support for Pakistani Christians, critics claim the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has not only been loath to address the situation but has even shortchanged Christians fleeing Pakistan to neighboring Thailand of refugee status.

“It clearly appears to us that the UNHCR in Bangkok has placed a higher burden of proof on Pakistani Christian asylum seekers [than on other refugees],” said Ann Buwalda, director of international Christian advocacy group Jubilee Campaign USA, who testified before Congress last month on behalf of the 4,000 displaced Pakistani believers in Thailand who still await refugee status from the UNHCHR.

“There are denials because there is an unreasonable standard [of evidence] placed on them,” said Buwalda.

It remains to be seen whether this year’s protest will yield international action on a law that has kept Pakistan in the top five of Open Doors USA’s World Watch List for three straight years.

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