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Pakistan: court orders government not to change blasphemy law

Catholic World News - December 07, 2010

The Lahore High Court has ordered the Pakistani government not to change the nation’s blasphemy law before the court hears the appeal of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death for blasphemy after she refused to convert to Islam.

Terrorist organizations associated with the Taliban have issued a fatwa against Shabhaz Bhatti, the Catholic layman and cabinet minister who is leading a commission that will consider changes to the nation’s blasphemy law.

Shaheryar Gill, a Pakistani Christian who serves as associate counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, shed light on the effects of the blasphemy law.

“You see, 20 years or more of the blasphemy law in Pakistan has instilled in people that punishment for insulting Islam is death,” Gill said in a recent interview. So, rather than going to the court, people have taken the law into their own hands.” Gill recounted:

There was an attack on a village in Kasur by a Muslim mob where hundreds of Muslims attacked a Christian village of 135 families. The triggering event was a blasphemy charge. There was a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim.

A Christian was driving his tractor and he saw a motorbike standing in the middle of the road. He asked the owner of the motorbike to please move so that he could pass. The owner said to the Christian with the tractor: “How could a ‘Chuhra’ tell him what to do”? A "Chuhra" is a derogatory term for Christians. Over this they had a little fight. Some people intervened and stopped the fight and everybody went home.

After a few hours a Muslim family gathered other people and attacked and beat the Christian family. The next day they announced in the mosque that a Christian desecrated the Quran. A mob gathered and attacked 135 families of that village just because of a petty fight between two people.

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  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Dec. 07, 2010 10:59 PM ET USA

    How is it that the Pakistani court "orders" the government to do, or not to do, something? This is frighteningly like my native Canada with its (shamefully and successfully) militant Supreme Court!

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