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Pakistan makes its blasphemy law even more repressive

Pakistan's Parliament has amended one of its blasphemy laws to increase the punishment for insulting the Prophet Muhammad's companions and other sacred personalities, sparking alarm among Christian leaders, who demanded quite the opposite — its repeal.


The Muslim-majority country’s National Assembly this week passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, increasing the punishment for insulting the prophet’s companions, wives, and family members to 10 years in prison, along with a fine of 1 million rupees (approximately $4,424 USD). The law as it was previously written only punished violators by up to three years in prison.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said the bill was passed despite the absence of ministers, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, from the proceedings.

International human rights activists have criticized the amendment. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a United Kingdom-based organization that monitors global Christian persecution, warns that lawmakers passed the bill without debate and “have ignored the long-standing demands of civil society organizations and minority community leaders for the repeal of the blasphemy laws.”


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