Repeal blasphemy law to make Pak safe place for minority Christians, says EU parliamentarian

| Updated: Aug 07, 2017 19:20 IST

Brussels [Belgium], Aug.7 (ANI): Christians, who form about 1.6 percent of Pakistan's population, live in constant fear of persecution from extremist Islamic groups in that country because of legal strictures such as the draconian "Blasphemy Law", a woman Member of the European Parliament (MEP) has claimed. In an article published in EP Today, Member of the European Parliament, Marijana Petir, claims 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. In her article, 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. To highlight her concern over this law being applied in a discriminatory manner, she makes a mention of a Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, whose only crime was that she was a Christian, and had sipped water from the same vessel as a Muslim woman of her locality, which in turn, lead to an argument, registration of a case and a death sentence. Asia, according to Petir, has been in custody for seven years, and has appealed against her sentence. "An incident 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. "..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 also a regular target of extremist Islamic groups. Over the years, Christian localities have witnessed terror attacks, and their churches vandalized," she adds. "With the safety of Christians not a priority.. attacks like these have forced many churches to employ armed volunteers to guard their premises," Petir states further. 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." Lately, she claims that even foreigners belonging to the Christian faith are being targeted in Pakistan. Maintaining that Christians seem to be staring at a bleak future in Pakistan, she concludes by saying that there is a need for laws like the one against blasphemy, to be repealed, and also for a complete transformation of key institutions in the country, starting with education. 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. (ANI)
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