Pakistan looks to curtail "abuse" of blasphemy laws
Posted by Marisol on May 28, 2007 1:55 AM
Trying to prevent abuse of laws that are themselves an abuse. The  U.S. State Department provides this summary of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code:
Section 295(a), the blasphemy provision of the Penal Code, originally stipulated a maximum 2-year sentence for insulting the religion of any class of citizens. This sentence was increased to 10 years in 1991. In 1982 Section 295(b) was added, which stipulated a sentence of life imprisonment for "whoever willfully defiles, damages, or desecrates a copy of the holy Koran." In 1986 another amendment, 295(c), established the death penalty or life imprisonment for directly or indirectly defiling "the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammad." In 1991 a court struck down the option of life imprisonment. These laws, especially Section 295(c), have been used by rivals and authorities to threaten, punish, or intimidate Ahmadis, Christians, and even orthodox Muslims. Since 1996 magistrates are now required to investigate allegations of blasphemy to see whether they are credible before filing formal charges.
Sharia Alert. "Blasphemy laws: Steps being considered to prevent abuse," by Sajjad Malik for the  Daily Times:
ISLAMABAD: The government is considering a number of measures to stop the abuse of blasphemy laws to victimise minority communities, Pakistan told the European Union during a Joint Commission meeting on May 23 and 24.
"The government is formulating measures to forestall abuse of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan ... Efforts are being made to address the causes of religious prejudice through education, economic development and adherence to the rule of law," documents seen by Daily Times quoted Pakistani officials as telling EU delegates.
The Pakistani officials defended the blasphemy laws, saying they had been part of South Asia's legal system for over a hundred years. They accepted that the laws were being abused, but noted that the majority of cases registered under the laws were against Muslims.
They rejected EU concerns that there was organised intolerance towards minorities in Pakistan. "Many cases involving members of the minority communities are on account of personal enmity emanating from disputes over property, and other family related problems, and due to social and economic factors like illiteracy and poverty," the EU side was informed.
Pakistan officials also warned that too much external pressure on human rights issues could impinge on the government's ability to move forward with new initiatives since such public pressure could generate the impression that the government was acting under western pressure.
During the meeting, Pakistan complained of a rising tide of racism and "Islamophobia" in Europe and demanded the EU take steps to contain them. The EU was also urged to take steps to address a growing perception among Muslims that human rights were western political instruments meant solely to target Muslim societies.
Article printed from Jihad Watch: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2007/05/pakistan-looks-to-curtail-abuse-of-blasphemy-laws.htmlURLs in this post: