Pakistan: National Assembly votes to make controversial blasphemy laws even harsher

Thursday, January 19, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , ,

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Bypassing public debate on the matter, ’s National Assembly on January 17 voted to make the country’s highly controversial laws even harsher than they already are, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports.

In Tuesday’s unanimous vote, the National Assembly passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, increasing the sentence for insulting the Prophet Mohammed’s companions, wives, and family members from three years to 10 years imprisonment, together with a fine of one million Pakistani rupees (around $3,500), CSW reports.

CSW notes in its report that long before Tuesday’s amendment was approved, rights groups have demanded that Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws be repealed. The blasphemy laws are vaguely worded and require low standards of evidence, CSW said. They criminalize any “insult” to Islam and carry sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty in some cases. Moreover, Muslim extremists have frequently abused the laws to harass and attack non-Muslims and even exact revenge on personal enemies who may be Muslims too.

“Minority leaders have expressed their concerns that the politicians who pushed for this amendment have ignored the existing challenges Pakistani society is facing with blasphemy laws, which stipulate death for convicts and often foster mob violence,” CSW said in its report.

“Pakistan must do more to protect its most vulnerable minority communities by upholding its international obligations and guarantees enshrined within the country’s constitution, and the international community must hold the government to account for where it fails or refuses to do so,” CSW asserts.

Pakistan ranks seven on the US Open Doors World Watch List 2023 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.

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