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Christian Women Stage Protest against ‘Discriminatory Laws’ in Pakistan

Mrs. Nasreen Maqbool addressing the women

Scores of women workers who are linked with All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) recently staged a protest rally against what they consider to be the “discriminatory laws” prevailing in Pakistan.

The workers also condemned the killings of two brothers in Faisalabad and asked government of Pakistan to take actions to stop killings and harassment of Christians in Pakistan.

They were referring to the brutal murders of Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27, who both faced blasphemy charges that they had denied, who were gunned down while being taken out of the court by policemen on Monday, June 19, 2010. A police official was also injured.

Addressing the women, Mrs. Nasreen Maqbool, District Coordinator of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance expressed her “grave concerns” over the “increased persecution” of religious minorities, “particularly Christians”, in Pakistan.

Women protesting against the Pakistan Penal Code, Section 295 B and C

She said, “Religious minorities are equal citizens of Pakistan. However, in recent years, violence and killings of Christians have been occurring which have been creating bad name for Pakistan.”

Mrs. Maqbool affirmed the long standing demand of her party [APMA] to review the discriminatory laws that has been used by some of the people to gain a personal interest and that “threatened women and minorities.”

She demanded that the Prime Minister and President of Pakistan should “take notice” of Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi’s statement against the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance Chief and Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, claiming the head had committed blasphemy for standing up for the murdered brothers.

“This kind of hatred based propaganda will lead to unrest and misunderstanding against minorities in Pakistan,” she went on to say.

Mrs. Maqbool said that she rejected the claim of Mr. Hammadi that the blasphemy law was not being implemented.

Women protesters listening to the speeches

“On the contrary,” she added, “since the law has been promulgated, innocent people had been convicted and after a series of persecution and trial, courts have found those accused as being innocent.”

She said that according to statistics collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, 35 Christians and Muslims have been killed “extra judicially” since 1982 in connection with allegations involving blasphemy.

“Moreover, since 1987, at least 1,035 men and women including Muslims, Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus, have been accused though none of the allegations were sustained or their sentence was held by the higher judiciary of the country,” she said.

Mrs. Maqbool said that, therefore, APMA was justified to review the laws which have been affecting large number of people .

Another speaker, Ms. Gulshan Bibi, said, “Women of our group are united with our support of Chief Shahbaz Bhatti. He is the hero of minorities.”

During the rally, the women chanted slogans, such as, “No to war, yes to peace, Protected Minorities, Prosper Pakistan.” They also held up cards in favor of their demands.

Ashfaq Fateh, Assist News Service

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