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    » 10/09/2009, 00.00


    Muslim leader: government hostage to the extremists will not abolish the blasphemy law

    Fareed Khan

    Irfan Mufti denounces the "weakness" of the executive which needs the fundamentalist wing to stay in power. He speaks of a "game of compromise" and the lack of "political will" to reject the norm. Archbishop Saldanha thanks Muslim MPs who proposed the abolition of the law.

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - The ruling party Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is "weak" and is not able to "abolish the blasphemy law." So says Irfan Mufti, director of South Asian Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-PK), who tells AsiaNews that the country lacks the "political will" to reject the "controversial law”. Meanwhile, Msgr. Lawrence John Saldanha, president of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), sent a personal letter of thanks to colleagues who have proposed the abolition of the norm in the parliamentary session of 8 October.

    Irfan Mufti, Muslim, explains that "some of the allies in government” are of religious extraction and “have no intention” of abolishing the blasphemy law; the government, on the other hand, does not want to lose the support of these parties and perpetrates "a game of compromise" that does not allow substantial changes in the country.  

    Commenting on some recent statements by President Asif Ali Zardari, who last week met with Pope Benedict XVI, the director of SAP-PK underlines the fact that there is "only political vacuum" and questions "what the concrete steps" have been undertaken by the Head of State to "stop the abuse of the blasphemy law".   The Muslim leader confirms the position of the organization - in conjunction with a broader civil society movement that brings together the countries of South Asia - which "calls for the complete abolition of the blasphemy law" because it "goes against the people and social harmony".

     Two months after the events at Gojra, which killed seven Christians, there are no signs that justice will be ensured for victims. Archbishop Lawrence John Saldanha is "worried" because he fears that even in this case - as happened several times in the past - the attackers will go unpunished. The prelate, however, has wanted to thank the parliamentary Muslims who, in recent days have called for the abolition of this law.  

    Mgr Joseph Coutts, bishop of Faisalabad, reports that he "is still waiting" for a "public inquiry into the events in Gojra," as assured long ago by  the Chief Minister of Punjab. The Christians of the village, meanwhile, denounce "new death threats" and live "hidden away from the extremists who want to eliminate us all from the city".



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    See also

    28/01/2005 PAKISTAN
    First Christian to be acquitted on blasphemy charges
    Despite the not guilty verdict, a Christian man must hide in fear for his life. The government admits law is improperly enforced.

    17/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Collusion between police and extremists cause of deaths in judicial custody, Pakistani NGO says
    A human rights group expresses concern over “increasing incidents of violence” against religious minorities. Fanatics enjoy impunity thanks to complicitous prison guards. The government is blamed for not prosecuting people responsible for such crimes. Police has not yet registered a first information report on the murder of a 20-year-old Christian man in Sialkot prison.

    07/08/2009 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, a Catholic activist: petition for the abolition of blasphemy law
    Peter Jacob, executive secretary for Justice and Peace, stresses that the government is "more sensitive" than before to violence against minorities. He adds, however, that change is only possible through a "mass movement". Human Rights Commission warns: attacks against Christians in Gojra "premeditated" and executed with the complicity of the police.

    03/07/2009 PAKISTAN
    Faisalabad, a Christian tortured and detained on false charges of blasphemy
    He is accused of having burned pages of the Koran. Charges invented by Muslims in the area, envious of the successful business done by the shop owned by the couple. Director of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue warns of a "wave of anti-Christian extremism" in the country.

    15/11/2005 PAKISTAN
    Christian leaders urge Pakistan president to repeal blasphemy law

    The Christian community has called a protest strike on 17 November in the wake of violence and destruction of churches and Christian places in Sangla Hill. The public security forces are under fire for their alleged inefficiency.

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