Friday, January 04, 2019

Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan and Religious Minorities

-- Nasir Khan

On January 4, 2011, Pakistani politician and governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by an Islamist fanatic. Mr. Taseer opposed the infamous blasphemy laws and stood for the rights of the underprivileged, socially downgraded and politically powerless Christians in a predominantly Muslim country, who have been frequently targeted by anti-social Muslim religious extremists. For his bold political stand and public views, his life was in danger; he was apprehensive of an attempt on his life at the hands of any misguided extremist. As we know, a vicious and brainwashed extremist goon killed him. His death reminds us of the deplorable fanaticism, intolerance and apathy in Pakistan.¨¨

But the best way we can pay our respects to this noble son of Pakistan is that all democratic, revolutionary and politically active people unite on some common points and struggle against miscreants and religious extremists who personify evil and inhumanity. They are not only a constant threat to the level-headed and just people who dare to speak against the injustices inflicted upon the people under the blasphemy laws but also an affront to the basic principles of human fraternity and respect towards the followers of other religions under Islam.

The so-called blasphemy laws of the brutal dictator General Zia strengthened the hands of religious maniacs in Pakistan. We demand that all these barbaric laws be annulled and all people of Pakistan irrespective of religion, creed, or ethnicity be treated equal in law and in society. This should happen not by pious wishes but in practice. At present religious persecution, oppression and religious discrimination in Pakistan is growing. This destructive and insidious phenomenon violates basic human rights of the citizens of Pakistan and also violates the UN Charter.

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