PAKISTAN: Christian member was halted to raise blasphemy case in the assembly
By Aftab Alexander Mughal
On Nov. 3, During the Punjab Assembly’s session, the speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, a Muslim who belongs to a right-wing party, did not allow a Christian member Joel Sahotra to speak on a blasphemy case of Aasia Noreen, saying that the matter was very sensitive. Christian member wanted to speak on Aasia’s issue who has been awarded death sentenced by a Pakistani court for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad while she has openly denied the allegations levelled by a Muslim cleric. However, when Ali Haider Noor Niazi of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan party, a party of Islamic hardliners, began speaking emotionally on the same issue, the speaker did not stop him. Protesting against speaker’s attitude, the Christian members, except minister and secretary for human rights and minorities Kamran Michael and Khalil Tahir Sindhu, walked out of the House. Nonetheless, the Christian MPAs (members of provincial assembly) tabled a resolution in favour of their demands and urged the government to review the country’s blasphemy laws.
The House again faced a bitter situation when Pakistan People’s Party MPA Ashraf Sohna, a Muslim by faith, tried to speak in favour of the review of the blasphemy laws, but Mutehada Majlas-e-Amal (MMA, an alliance of Islamic parties) parliamentary leader Ali Haider Niazi immediately stood up and said, “We will not allow anyone to even think about making amendments in the blasphemy law.”
Christians have been demanding for the repeal of blasphemy laws, which have been used against to persecute them, while Islamists have been organising protest rallies in favour of the laws. (END)
Aftab Alexander Mughal
Minorities Concern of Pakistan