According to the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) in Pakistan, since 1987, 187 Christians have been accused under Pakistan’s various “blasphemy” laws.
In addition, in a 60-page report published in early November, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has vigorously condemned these cruel laws, trials and punishments.
The report calls on the Pakistan government to “repeal all blasphemy laws … or amend them substantially so that they are consistent with international standards on freedom of expression; freedom of thought, conscience or religion; and equal protection of the law”.
The “blasphemy laws” have frequently been misused to abuse the country’s Christians, who are often falsely accused of blasphemy by people who use it as a way of settling a personal grudge or to grab property.
The NCJP reports that, in addition to the number of Christians accused under this law, 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis and 21 Hindus have also been accused of ”blasphemy” offences since 1987. Given that the religious minorities account for an extremely small percentage of the Muslim-majority population, the number of Christians and members of other minority religions accused is massively disproportionate to the number of Muslims accused, even though the number of accused Muslims is higher.
The report from the ICJ also strongly urges the abolition of the mandatory death penalty that is included in the Pakistan Penal Code for “defiling the name” of Muhammad.
In addition, it recommends that the government “expressly include the requirement of proof of deliberate and malicious intent in all offences related to religion … particularly 295-C [the blasphemy law]”. Currently, no proof of intention is needed, meaning that someone could commit an offence under this law without even knowing it.
There are moves in Pakistan towards improving freedom of religion. On 5th October this year, in a landmark statement, the Pakistan Supreme Court said that criticising the country’s notoriously harsh blasphemy laws is not blasphemy.
However, in the past, any political figures in Pakistan who opposed or attempted to amend the blasphemy laws have been violently pressured into backtracking, and several have been killed.
- Pray for Pakistan government, to take heed of this report and criticism from it’s own Supreme court, and seek to amend or even repeal the Blasphemy laws.
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan, as they face increasing pressure against them from their communities as well as the government.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across Pakistan, that will turn many hearts to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and His transforming love and grace.
Philippians 2 vs 9 -11: “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”