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PAKISTAN: Islamic Parties’ Camping Against Amendment In Blasphemy Laws

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PAKISTAN: Islamic Parties’ Camping Against Amendment In Blasphemy Laws

By Aftab alexander Mughal

On Dec. 12, 2010, during a press conference major Islamic parties of the country have announced to launch a campaign for upholding the sanctity of Prophet Muhammad against the proposed amendment in the blasphemy laws. During a meeting, they formed an alliance and a seven-member committee was also constituted to chalk out a strategy for holding meetings, processions, wheel-jam strikes and a sit-in outside parliament.

The meeting was convened by the Markazi Jamaat Ahle Sunnat in Rawalpindi, twin city of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. Leaders of major Islamic political parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, Jammiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F, part of coalition government in the centre), and other religious leaders participated in the meeting.

Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws once again came under discussion after the death sentence of an illiterate Christian woman, Aasia Noreen. She was sentenced to death on November 8, 2010. A Christian federal minister said that the blasphemy laws should be amended. Since these laws introduction, Christian and human rights organisation have been demanding for the repeal of the blasphemy laws which have been used against Christian and other religious minorities to persecute and intimidate them.

The Islamic parties stated that the only punishment for blasphemy was capital punishment, adding that no one had the right to amend this law. They further said that the private member bill by Sherry Rehman, a former federal minister, reflected the American agenda.

Pir Ateeq-ur-Rehman Markazi, leader of Jamaat Ahle Sunnat, told the press conference the religious parties had united to protect the sanctity of the name of Holy Prophet and were ready to render any sacrifice.

“People will not allow the government to amend blasphemy law at any cost,” said Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of JUI-F. He said international powers always tried to divide the Mulsim Ummah, but all the sects of Islam were united for the dignity of the Holy Prophet.

Moreover, in many cities Islamic parties organised rallies against attempts to amend the blasphemy law and likely extradition of Aasia Noreen. Jamaatul Dawa, a charity run by Lashka-e-Tayyba (a terrorist organisation banned in Pakistan) also organised a rally in Lahore while the Punjab government of Pakistan Muslim League-N, a right wing party, did not take any notice of the rally.

Aftab Alexander Mughal

Editor
Minorities Concern of Pakistan

Dec. 13, 2010

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Aftab Alexander Mughal is a Pakistani journalist and a human rights activist. He is the editor of Minorities Concern of Pakistan, an e-magazine, while he also heads the Asia desk of Spero News . For 14 years, he served the “Minority Rights Commission of Pakistan” and “Justice and Peace Commission of Pakistan” as National Director for Research and Publications and an Executive Secretary. From 1985 to 1992, he worked as Youth Director of Catholic Diocese of Multan, Pakistan. Born in 1956 in Muzaffargarh, Southern Punjab of Pakistan, Mughal has worked with many national and international civil society organizations. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science. He has widely travelled and represented Pakistan at regional and international conferences. He has been awarded the "International Award for Excellence in Journalism 2010" by the Union of Catholic International Press (UCIP) whose international office is in Geneva, Switzerland. The award was made at the World Congress, which was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 12 -19, 2010. This is Mughal's second award from UCIP. His first one being the "Media in Your Country Award" which he received on the October 20, 1989 in Ruhpolding Germany. Mughal started his career as a journalist in 1979 and edited the monthly magazines "Nishan-e-Rah" and "Mashal." until 1985. Since then he worked as a freelance journalist. His main area of interest is human rights, peace and religious freedom in Pakistan. He also has been contributing to national and international magazines, newspapers and various news agencies and has several books to his credit on minority rights issues including, “Death or Exile” and “From the Ashes of Shantinagar.” Moreover, he is also a co-author of “Section 295 C, Pakistan Penal Code – Study of the History, Effects and Cases under Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.”

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