Death sentences against Christians – abolish blasphemy laws!
Christians in Pakistan are in danger: Following several new death sentences, human rights activists call for an abolition of blasphemy laws (Press release)
Alarmed by two new death sentences against Christians in Pakistan, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) calls for an abolition of the blasphemy laws in the country's criminal code. In a fax to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the human rights organization accused Pakistan of using the controversial paragraphs to incite violence against religious minorities rather than demanding respect for their religious freedom.
"As a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Pakistan will lose credibility if the country fails to put an end to violent attacks by religious extremists and to arbitrary violations of fundamental human rights," criticized Ulrich Delius, the STP's director, in Göttingen on Monday. "The convictions for blasphemy are damaging Pakistan's image. The government must finally break the spiral of violence to emphasize that it won't give in to pressure from religious extremists."
The death sentences against the two brothers Amoon and Qasir Ayub were passed last Thursday. In 2011, they had been accused of slandering the prophet Mohamed on their website – which, however, had not been accessible since 2009. After three years on the run, the two Christians were arrested. The trial had been held in a prison, for security reasons. Currently, at least ten more Christians are facing death sentences for alleged blasphemy in Pakistan.
The STP also recalled the fate of Asia Bibi, a catholic woman who had been sentenced to death before being acquitted after years of imprisonment. "She will be able to celebrate Christmas with her husband, but not in freedom," Delius criticized. The police are keeping Asia Bibi in a secret location until the Supreme Court decides on the objection of religious extremists against her acquittal – probably in January 2019. Without police protection, she would likely be murdered by religious fanatics, who – according to Delius – are putting increasing pressure on the government of Pakistan.
Header image: Patrick aka Herjolf via Flickr