Pakistan should urgently repeal its Blasphemy laws to ensure that its minorities, Christians and Hindus, do not face targeting from fundamentalists among the majority community in the country, a member of the European Parliament has urged in an article in EP Today.

Marijana Petir, EP member, wrote in the European Parliament journal that Pakistan today represents a human rights nightmare, particularly for the minority Christian community, which often faces social discrimination, isolation and targeting from conservative and fundamentalists in the society. Christians form about 1.6 per cent of the country’s population.

In her article, she squarely blames successive Pakistani governments for allowing radicalized extremist forces to thrive, “drastically reducing tolerance within society and depriving minority religious groups the right to live safely and with dignity.”

Petir, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, specifically criticizes what she describes as “Pakistan’s regressive Blasphemy Law” and demands its immediate repeal.

“The laws are biased against religious minorities (in Pakistan), failing to give them political rights equal to other Muslims. Apart from facing social discrimination and isolation, Christians are especially a regular target of extremist Islamic groups. Over the years, Christian localities have witnessed terror attacks, and their churches vandalized,” she adds.

Referring to gruesome incidents of targeting by Islamic extremists, Petir has written “…incidents like this can only evoke disbelief and horror in any other part of the civilized world. But this is the cruel reality that Christians and members of other religious minority groups in Pakistan grapple with, every day,” says Petir.

She says that the international community can only support, but it is for Pakistan to find a place safe for its Christians and minority groups to live in.

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