04/01/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Johnnie Moore has called on Pakistan to repeal its draconian blasphemy laws. As people gathered to march on International Women’s Day in Islamabad, others filed a First Incident Report against the organizers of the march, claiming that the marchers were displaying ‘obscene posters’ and making sacrilegious remarks against various religious personalities. The local court ordered a probe on the organizers of the march—a decision which Commissioner Moore called a “shame to the wonderful Pakistani people.”
Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws continue to be one of the greatest sources of persecution against the country’s religious minorities. Christians regularly fall victim to false allegations of blasphemy, often landing the accused in prison and their family in financial ruin. The laws encourage a climate of impunity for those that make the false allegations. Many times, the allegations are proven wrong, but not before doing permanent damage. Those accused often have to relocate to another part of the country.
Several Christian victims are currently serving sentences in Pakistan for supposedly committing blasphemy. Many are serving life sentences or are on death row. ICC publishes a report that tracks these cases as they progress through the judicial system.
In response to Commissioner Moore’s comments, Matias Perttula, Director of Advocacy at ICC, said, “Pakistan’s ongoing abuse of the blasphemy law is a continual plague on the Christian community in Pakistan. They continue to suffer under the throes of this extremist and clearly biased law that pretends to protect religion. The truth is that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are tools for destroying innocent lives. USCIRF is absolutely right in calling out this law yet again and urging its ultimate repeal,”.