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Bangladesh Christian Association demands repeal of blasphemy law in Pakistan

ANI | Updated: Sep 24, 2020 15:41 IST

Dhaka [Bangladesh], September 24 (ANI): The Bangladesh Christian Association has expressed grave concerns over the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan and demanded that the Imran Khan-led government should repeal the blasphemy law, and release people, who have been arrested under the legislation on false charges, "with dignity".
In a letter addressed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, sent through the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka, the group called on authorities to drop all fabricated blasphemy charges against Christians and members of minority communities and urged for clemency to those already sentenced to death for blasphemy.
"We are aware that blasphemy remains a contentious issue in Pakistan and hundreds of Pakistani Christians and other minorities have fled the country fearing for their lives over allegations of blasphemy. Unproven accusations of blasphemy have led to extrajudicial killings, mob lynching and violent protests targetting minority community members," the letter said.
The association said the blasphemy law is in conflict with the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens guaranteed in the constitution. It described the law as "vague, arbitrary and leaves scopes for misuse" by some people for their personal interests and fanning communal hatred and promoting enmity against the minorities.
The Bangladesh Christian Association cited incidents where people have been arrested under the blasphemy law and charged under fabricated charges.
A sessions court in Lahore on September 8 ordered Asif Pervaiz, 37, a Pakistani Christian, "to serve a three-year prison term for "misusing" his phone to send a derogatory text message" and awarded him a death sentence. This came days after a Christian man, David Masih, was charged with blasphemy after pages of the Quran were found in a drain in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
"It has been learnt Pervaiz used to work in a textile factory in the Youhanabad area of Lahore and has been in police custody since 2013 after his supervisor brought against him a fabricated charge of sending defamatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad to him in a text message," the group said.
It recalled that two prominent and liberal Pakistani Christian politicians -- Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer -- were assassinated for their efforts to repeal the blasphemy law and supporting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely charged for blasphemy and later acquitted by a court in 2018.
"Thus, we would like to draw the attention of the Government of Pakistan as well as lawmakers, politicians, the judiciary, the civil society and the people of Pakistan in this connection and demand the repealing of the blasphemy law as early as possible to save the minority people in Pakistan," the letter read.

It also said, "We would highly appreciate if the issue is taken care of in the purview of human rights and humanity. We are looking forward to your sympathetic steps and actions." (ANI)