The head of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Muhammad Khan Sherani, announced on Thursday 28th January that he is willing to review Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that critics say are regularly misused and have led to the deaths of hundreds of Christians and Muslims.
The CII is a constitutional body that advises the Pakistan legislature whether or not a certain law is repugnant to Islam.
Religious and political leaders have kept well clear of debating blasphemy laws in Pakistan, a country where criticism in relation to Islam is a highly sensitive subject, and where even rumours of blasphemy have sparked deadly riots.
Sherani told Reuters he was willing to reopen the debate to see whether sentences as harsh as the death penalty were fair.
In an interview at his office in Islamabad, Sherani said: “The government of Pakistan should officially, at the government level, refer the law on committing blasphemy to the Council of Islamic Ideology. There is a lot of difference of opinion among the clergy on this issue. Then the council can seriously consider things and give its recommendation of whether it needs to stay the same or if it needs to be hardened or if it needs to be softened.”
Sherani, who was also in the headlines recently, after his council obstructed a bill to deter child marriages, did not disclose his own position on the blasphemy laws.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry a mandatory death penalty, although, to date, no death sentence has been carried out. However, those who have been accused of blasphemy often face lynching from their communities, even if they are acquitted.
Critics say the law is abused in poor, rural areas by people falsely accusing rivals in order to settle personal grievances.
- Pray for the Pakistan government and Council of Islamic Ideology as they debate the blasphemy laws. Pray for wisdom, discernment and for a softening of this legislation that has been led to so much abuse.
- Pray for those who are awaiting sentencing under these harsh laws. Pray for clemency from the courts, and for justice to be prevail on their behalf.
- Pray for Christians in Pakistan, for protection from the growing Islamic fundamentalism in the country, and for courage to share their faith.
- Pray for many in Pakistan to have life changing encounters with Jesus, through dreams and visions, as well as the witness of Christians around them.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.“
Source: https://www.barnabasfund.org/news, http://www.dawn.com/news