Despite international outcry, Pakistan will not repeal blasphemy law

By February 17, 2011

Pakistan (MNN) — Despite the harsh criticism Pakistan's government has recently received regarding its blasphemy law, the country's Prime Minister recently announced that no amendments will be made to the law.

We've been following the case of Asia Bibi for months at Mission Network News. Bibi is a young Pakistani mother who was sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the prophet Muhammad in 2009. Bibi is currently in the appeal process, but a bounty has been placed on her head, and many radicals want her dead. Read her full story here.

Bibi's harsh sentence stirred international outrage. Her story has been told across the globe, and many appealed to Pakistan's government to overturn the strict law. Although no one has ever been executed under the blasphemy law, over 30 people convicted have been murdered by mobs. The law also has been historically abused.

Essentially, Pakistan's blasphemy law mandates that any person who insults Islam must be put to death. The law is not unique; many other Muslim-dominated countries have similar laws, but Bibi's story got humanitarians thinking. By January, a private bill had been drafted to amend the blasphemy law by easing the penalty for breaking it.

Upset citizens of Pakistan flooded the streets in January, however, for a 24-hour strike against the proposed changes. Sunni clerics threatened that any changes would be made "over their dead" bodies.

Whatever swayed the government's decision, international opposition does not seem to have made a difference. Voice of the Martyrs, Canada reports that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told parliament that his government would not touch the legislation.

Sherry Rehman, the Pakistani National Assembly member who proposed the bill, involuntarily withdrew the bill and has since been buried in death threats.

Christians are routinely accused of blasphemy in many Muslim nations, and a firm hand to uphold the blasphemy laws will likely mean continued persecution. Pray that the church would continue to grow despite the threat of unjust laws, and that believers would boldly proclaim the Gospel regardless. Continue to pray also for the safety of our sister, Asia Bibi.

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