Chancellor Merkel welcomes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (November 11):
Merkel should advocate for better protection of the Christian population and for the abolition of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) appeals to Chancellor Angela Merkel to use her meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday to advocate for better protection of the Christian population and other religious minorities in Pakistan and also for the abolition of the blasphemy laws in the South Asian country. "Considering the murder of a Christian couple that was accused of blasphemy in Pakistan and the fact that the death sentence against the Catholic Asia Bibi was recently confirmed, the talks with Sharif must not be limited to matters of security policy," said Ulrich Delius, the STP's Asia-consultant, in Göttingen on Monday. "In Pakistan, the situation of the non-Sunni religious communities is catastrophic. De facto, the minority groups are severely restricted in their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of religion."
"In Pakistan, Christian people are being treated as fair game – despite all the promises that dissenters shall be better protected," says the letter the human rights organization sent to Merkel. "These promises are half-hearted. The authorities are not willing to set clear limits for the Sunni extremists and to actually implement religious freedom."
According to the STP, an abolition of the controversial blasphemy laws would be a clear sign to all extremists, that the Pakistani government is serious about protecting the religious minorities. Pakistan's governments have been promising to mitigate or to completely get rid of the blasphemy provisions for years, but these plans were dropped again several times – due to pressure from religious extremists.
It is not only the Christians who suffer from this terror. Since the beginning of 2013, Sunni extremists murdered more than 400 Shiite Hazara. Ahmadiyya Muslims have to fear for their lives if they try to practice their faith – while Hindus are excluded from society and often become victims of the conflicts between India and Pakistan.
Ulrich Delius, head of STP's Asia department, is available for further questions: +49 551 49906 27 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Header Photo: [AKA Gilyo]/Flickr