Friday, January 16, 2009

Blasphemy laws 'will be abolished,' says Pakistan Minister for Minorities

ASSIST News Service reported today that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's Minister for Minorities promised in a telephone interview that Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws 'will be abolished.'

"Religious minorities have been neglected, victimized and oppressed in Pakistan," he told ANS. "They have faced constitutional and institutionalized discrimination and inequality but our government is committed to address the long-standing issues of minorities. We are making all-out efforts to uplift and empower minorities."

This are welcome words, of course. We would certainly be delighted by a repeal of these draconian laws which have been repeatedly used to persecute Christians. Of course, the previous president, Pervez Musharraf, also made such promises in 1999 and even attempted to fulfill them before being forced to back down after pressure from Islamist groups, settling instead on making various public statements deploring religious intolerance but effectively doing nothing. Let's just hope that Bhatti's words are not more of the same.