Christians are afraid more persecution comes after revision of blasphemy law
A recent move to make Pakistan’s so-called blasphemy laws stricter will make it easier to convict innocent people, including religious minorities, says a British Pakistani Christian organization.
“The additional hardening of laws will make it only easier to convict innocent people,” said Juliet Chowdhry, Trustee for the British Asian Christian Association.
The organization says that Christians suffer “severe persecution” in Pakistan, and any tightening of blasphemy laws are likely to impact them.
The laws already provide the death penalty for anyone who offends Islam. Now, Pakistan’s National Assembly raised the minimum prison sentence to 10 years for anyone who insults the wives, companions, and family members of the Prophet Mohammed. Formerly, the maximum was three years.
The amendment to article 298 of the penal code also provides for a 1 million rupee fine – about $4,500.
“The blasphemy laws of Pakistan have been a tool for discrimination and persecution since being Islamized in the 1980s,” Chowdhry said in a statement. “From 1860 when the British introduced the first blasphemy law till 1985, only 10 blasphemy cases were registered. However, from 1986-2015, 633 cases had been registered and in 2020 alone 199 cases, illustrating how the laws have been weaponized.”
Christians, she said, make up an “unhealthy percentage of blasphemy convicts and spend longer periods incarcerated than other victims of these draconian laws.”