Proposed revision of the blasphemy law lands in Parliament

A detailed proposal for the revision of the blasphemy law has arrived at the National Assembly: Fides learned from Sherry Rehman, A prominant, parliamentarian of the “Pakistan Peoples Party”, which drafted the document and submitted it to the Secretariat of the Parliament, “hoping to discuss it and find a majority consensus in the Assembly.”

Among the various proposed changes contained in the document, sent to Fides, there are, for example: five years’ imprisonment instead of the death penalty for those who commit the crime of blasphemy; severe penalties for those who deliver false accusations of blasphemy and those who incite religious hatred; the passage of proceedings for blasphemy within the jurisdiction of the High Court; the need for accurate trials and guarantees before the arrest of an accused.

The next session of Parliament is scheduled for 20 December: “We hope that the President of the Assembly inserts the motion into the working calendar. For 25 years, the country has supported legislation that was introduced by General Zia and was not approved by any Parliament. It is time to address this problem. In civil society there is growing consensus, even if there are protests from Islamic extremist groups,” emphasised Ms Rehman.

Of Cardinal Tauran’s visit to Pakistan, she said: “We are happy. We welcome him and the support of the Holy See and the international community in the campaign for the respect of human rights. The law is shameful. It affects religious minorities (and not only those). It is manifestly unjust. The Prophet Muhammad, a good and just man, would not be a part of it. It is serious and it is wrong to act with violence and injustice in his name.”

Sherry Rehman slams abuse of blasphemy laws

Earlier Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer has said that he went to meet Aasia Bibi for the sake of humanity only and the blasphemy law was man-made and not God-given, adding that his meeting with Aasia Bibi was being politicised, a private TV channel reported on Thursday. Talking during an interview with the channel, Taseer said no Muslim could even imagine blasphemy, adding that the issue important for him was reviewing the blasphemy law. “Even now, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan, Nilofer Bakhtiar, Sherry Rehman and others have talked about bringing a change in this law,” he said, adding that he had conducted a complete investigation of the matter that the law was used against Aasia. He said he did not want to further comment on the issue, as it would be dealt in the high court. The governor said that the blasphemy itself, in his opinion, was an offence, but to misuse it by falsely accusing someone was a bigger offence. He rejected the opinion that he was doing political point scoring, saying that he was surely a liberal, but he could not understand the allegations of pro-Westernisation made against him.

Dunya TV-POLICY MATTERS-27-11-2010-4; host Naseem Zahra, participants Ayaz Mir, Sherry Rehman, Justice Tariq Mehmood, Imran Khan, religious scholar Javed Ghamidi [except Anees ur Rehman, the crony of Zia regime] agreed that blasphemy law is a grave injustice.



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