Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pakistani hardliners oppose suggestion to repeal blasphemy laws

The continuing struggle in Pakistan as to how to deal with the country’s draconian blasphemy laws is reflected in this recent article in ASSIST News Service.

Friday, September 18, 2009
Pakistani hardliners oppose suggestion to repeal Blasphemy Laws
By Dan Wooding and Sheraz Khurram Khan
Special to ASSIST News Service

PAKISTAN (ANS) -- The religious and political conservative leaders of Pakistan have said that they would not tolerate any attempt to repeal Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws.

Salman-Taseer-500 The reaction of the fundamentalist leaders came in response to the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer’s statement on Wednesday, September 16, in which he suggested the repeal of the country’s blasphemy laws.

“The blasphemy laws should be repealed to protect the religious minorities, particularly in the wake of increasing incidents of Christians’ persecution by religious extremists,” said Mr. Taseer while replying to reporters’ queries at a dinner on Wednesday.

Reacting to the governor’s suggestion the fundamentalist religious and political leaders have equated demands for repeal of blasphemy to the committing of blasphemy.

Pakistan Urdu Daily Newspaper “Nawaiwaqt” quoted them as saying: “The governor should not play with sentiments of people.

“The secular-minded people should refrain from imposing their wishes on the people of Pakistan.

“The statement is an attempt to cover up domestic flaws. It is an open affront to the people of Pakistan.

“The matter of blasphemy is a matter of life and death for Muslims”, the newspaper quoted them as saying.

Khawaja Saad Rafique, a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, told the newspaper that attempts to repeal blasphemy laws will neither be tolerated now will they allow any such attempt to take place.

The newspaper quoted him as saying that unfortunate people who commit blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and other prophets should be given the same punishment as governed by the blasphemy laws.

He told the newspaper that those who misuse the laws should be meted out strict punishment.

Syed Munawar Hassan, Head of Jammat-e-Islami, (a fundamentalist Islamic religious party), was quoted by the newspaper as saying that the statement of the Governor and some non-governmental organizations that the blasphemy laws should be repealed was “condemnable.”

He said, “No true Muslim could tolerate blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad or against any prophets. Love of Prophet Muhammad is a fundamental part of Islamic faith.

“The governor’s logic that since Islam teaches us to protect minorities and therefore blasphemy laws should be repealed is an extremely weak one,” Mr. Hassan told the newspaper.

Engineer Saleemullah, Chief of Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan Nifaz-e-Shariat (Party of Pakistani Islamic scholars for imposition of Sharia) warned that if the blasphemy laws were repealed then lovers of prophet Muhammad belonging to religious parties including Tehrik-e-Nizam-e-Mustafa (Movement advocating system based on teaching of Muhammad), Tehrik-e-Tahfuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (Movement for protection of respect of Prophet Muhammad), would come out on streets to stage protest demonstrations.

Continue to uphold Pakistan’s political leaders during this time.  Recent attacks against Christians have opened doors of opportunity to discuss this issue but, as we have mentioned before on this website, previous governments have also attempted to address the blasphemy laws to no success. Pray that God will give courage to the country’s leaders to do the right thing and repeal these laws outright. 

Why not let our brothers and sisters in Pakistan know that you are praying for them and their government by posting a prayer on our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

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