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Pakistani lawmaker who sought to amend law will not be prosecuted for blasphemy

Catholic World News - February 21, 2011

A Pakistani prosecutor has declined to pursue criminal charges against a legislator who had called for changes in the country’s harsh blasphemy law.

Sherry Rehman, a member of the Pakistani People's Party, had been denounced by Islamic activists for a speech in which she suggested amending the law. The speech itself was blasphemous, the Islamic zealots argued. After reviewing the speech, the prosecutor found no violation of the law.

Rehman’s case illustrates the difficulties that face the Christian minority in Pakistan under the existing law. A prominent member of parliament, whose speech was recorded, can escape prosecution—although she still faces death threats from Islamic extremists. An ordinary Christian, accused by a neighbor, would not have videotape evidence to establish what he actually said, nor the social standing to call attention to his case, and could face imprisonment or even execution on the basis of an unfounded charge.

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