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Pakistan: Fear keeps parliament from repealing blasphemy law, says bishop

Catholic World News - June 18, 2010

Bishop Max John Rodrigues of the southern Pakistani city of Hyderabad told Fides that while most Pakistanis support the repeal the blasphemy law used to oppress religious minorities, fear of retaliation keeps members of parliament from doing so.

“Christians and other religious minorities have been struggling for years against the law, promoting a national and international campaign, and most Muslims in Pakistan are also against the law,” said Bishop Rodrigues. “The fact is that a handful of extremist Islamic groups want to keep it and are ready to mobilize to this effect: when in the past, announcements or attempts to abolish the law were made, public protests halted the process immediately.”

“Today in parliament many members are afraid: they are intimidated, a possible target for extremists attacks,” he continued. “Our country is engaged in fighting terrorism, targeted murders, bomb explosions against our institutions and against the security forces. Those in power fear for their lives, and this keeps the situation at a standstill.”

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