Pakistan's blasphemy laws could be misused: EU

Published: May 20, 2010
Virulent religious sentiments in Pakistan have often led to discrimination and violence against minorities. (AFP)

Virulent religious sentiments in Pakistan have often led to discrimination and violence against minorities. (AFP)

STRASBOURG: The EU parliament called on Pakistan to guarantee minority rights, claiming that its blasphemy laws could be misused.

The parliament claimed on Thursday that the laws could be used to murder members of political, racial and religious minorities.

In a resolution adopted in Strasbourg, the assembled Euro MPs expressed “deep concern” at the Pakistani blasphemy laws, calling for a “thoroughgoing review” of the legislation which is “open to misuse.”

The laws can carry the death sentence and are “often used to justify censorship, criminalisation, persecution and, in certain cases, the murder of members of political, racial and religious minorities,” the parliament said in a strongly-worded statement.

The texts in question “are misused by extremist groups and those wishing to settle personal scores,” the EU deputies said.

They had also “led to an increase of violence against members of religious minorities, particularly Ahmadis, but also Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Shiites, Buddhists, Parsis, Bahais and critical citizens who dared to raise their voice against injustice,” they added.

The parliament did recognise recent “measures taken in the interest of religious minorities,” by the Pakistan government, such as establishing a quota of five per cent for minorities in the federal jobs sector, recognising non-Muslim public holidays and declaring a National Minorities Day.

However such initiatives cannot mask the reports and surveys by independent agencies which “reveal that minorities in Pakistan are deprived of basic civil liberties and equal opportunities in jobs, education and political representation,” the parliament underlined.

The resolution also criticised the practice of including religious details on citizens’ passports, a practice which the Euro MPs argued could lead to “discriminatory practices.”

Present in Strasbourg was Pakistan’s minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who told AFP that his country was “trying to improve the situation and many steps have been taken.”

He said the Pakistani authorities had made a “commitment to amend these laws.”

“These laws will be changed in such a way which could not be harmful. I’m working on that, this will be done by the end of this year,” he said.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Atif
    May 20, 2010 - 11:35PM

    I would only say; look who is talking. Who are they to tell us about minority rights? Have they forgotten the discrimination and intolerance against minorities in EU especially since last year? But we still remember. We still remember, all those bans, mugging and even ethnic killings. We still remember “headscarf martyr” (search google) and how she was killed in court and stabbed 18 times but no one tried to stop the murderer. Get some life EU. Your human rights violations are worst than anybody else and goes far back in past. It’s just that you are successful in concealing your own wrong doings. I give you credit for this.Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    May 20, 2010 - 11:38PM

    Funny!!! EU should first eliminate discrimination within Europe before raising finger at someone else.

    They are talking about removing religious details from Passports and they are the ones who raise eyebrows when they see a green passport.

    I say let’s make all the passports in the world of the same colour. Will EU support this idea? Double standards!!!!!Recommend

  • Nasir Talib
    May 21, 2010 - 1:09AM

    @Atif & Ali i wonder if you both realize what you just said i believe you guys have forgotten the recent incidence in “Gojra” not to long ago and it was because of the blasphemy allegation, there have been other Shanti nagar in the late 80’s don’t let me pull the skeletons out of your cupboard & please do not blame other countries when ours is the one with a Law that justifies killing a person that he has committed blasphemy. In many case the accused was killed by angry Mobs before Judicial proceedings could be initiated and all that was done in the name of religious fervor.
    EU is right and so are many other forums that have raised a Voice against this Law.Recommend

  • Dr. Ghulam Murtaza Khuhro
    May 21, 2010 - 5:34AM

    When it comes to religion, Tolerance is only lesson that should be preached and practiced. In fact, almost all of us in our daily life are blasphemy practitioners. Do we (Muslims) practice what Prophet practiced and preached to practice? If this hypocrisy is given up, probably our reactions would be more rational and humane. Others may be wrong but do we think that we may also be wrong? Does this occur to persons belonging to different sects of same religion? Hence, tolerance will be best course.Recommend

  • Ammar Zafarullah
    May 21, 2010 - 4:45PM

    The EU concerns are genuine as the blasphemy laws were used to persecute minorities. These laws call for the respect of all religions but have we ever seen any person from the majority being penalized despite the fact that Hindus, ahemdi’s are ridiculed by the clergy every now and then. So the blasphemy laws if they are needed! Must be applicable for all sects! Recommend

  • Umair
    May 21, 2010 - 10:16PM

    This law can easily be misused. It is quite vague as there is no set criterion as how to decide whether something alleged to be said or written by a person falls in the category of being ‘blasphemous’.

    People who are criticizing Europe should check their own record first. Recommend

  • asif arif ali
    May 29, 2010 - 11:43PM

    All the peoples of Pakistan need to be afforded protection of state from terrorist. We must show we are true Islamic country by protect human rights of all citizen.Recommend

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