Plea for prayer as Blasphemy Laws debated in Pakistani Senate for first time since 2010.
A new attempt to amend the Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan is being debated in Pakistani Senate in Islamabad this week.
The new debate has been introduced into the Senate by Senator Farhatullah Baber, a Muslim and a member of Pakistan People’s Party. Senator Baber is also a member of the Special Committee of the Pakistani Senate on Human Rights and the debate is to consider how the Laws can be amended to prevent them being used to persecute religious minorities, including Shia Muslims and Christians.
This fresh attempt to discuss the matter in the House, comes a decade after minority MP Mr Bhandara presented a private bill in 2007 seeking amendment to the Blasphemy Laws. The proposal was immediately blocked, with claims that it would conflict with Islamic law and offend Muslims. Another attempt in 2010 was scuppered when Sherry Rehman of the Pakistan People’s Party who proposed it was threatened with death if he didn’t withdraw the proposal.
There have already been strong objections to the debate and possible amendment of the laws. The lawyer Nadeem Siddiqi has presented a recourse to the High Court of Lahore asking the Court to stop the debate. Mr Siddiqi has claimed that the initiation of this debate was “a conspiracy” and stated that “Parliament cannot make a law contrary to the Islamic principles.” The Court is expected to rule on this within two weeks.
CLAAS is calling on everyone who opposes the blasphemy law in Pakistan to pray fervently for this debate. This is the first time in many years that the abuse of the Blasphemy Laws are to be debated and if Senator Baber fails it may be several years again until the matter is discussed again in the Senate. Meanwhile innocent men and women such as Asia Bibbi remain in prison, facing possible execution.
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