In a move to prevent the abuse of Pakistan’s notoriously harsh blasphemy laws, the country’s government has drafted a bill to try to reduce the frequency of false accusations.
Given that there is a mandatory death sentence for the crime of “defiling the name” of Muhammad, false accusations pose serious risks to individuals, especially non-Muslims, and are often used to settle personal grudges. When a Christian is accused of blasphemy, violence often erupts against an entire Christian neighbourhood, but there is rarely any punishment for the rioters.
Although no one has yet been executed under the blasphemy laws, 14 people are currently on death row and a further 19 are serving life sentences. Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, is one of those on death row, having been found guilty of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad in a dispute with fellow field-labourers in 2009.
While the bill goes some way towards seeking to prevent the abuse of the current laws against Christians, it does not change the prevailing mandatory penalties for blasphemy. It would, however, impose penalties for false accusation, and also make it necessary to prove that a person accused of defiling the name of Muhammad had done so intentionally.
Christians across Pakistan are hopeful that the proposed bill will be passed into law and will, at the very least, cause Muslims to think carefully before making accusations or seeking revenge.
- Pray for Pakistan as it struggles with increasing religious violence and intolerance.
- Pray for the Government as they seek to bring in laws to help protect Christians. Pray that they laws will be upheld and see an end to mob violence against Christians communities.
- Pray for the Church in Pakistan to grow strong, and to see many turning to Christ through the witness of Christians in their communities.
Ephesians 6 vs 18: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.“