Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pakistan's blasphemy laws ...

Also at CT, two new cases of the blasphemy law being used against Christians in Pakistan.
On September 9, 2005, a neighbor of Masih's demanded that Christians gathering in their town observe Muslim and not Christian rituals, precipitating an argument between him and Masih, according to Masih's lawyer. The resident accused Masih of blasphemy two days later, and a lower-ranking officer investigated and arrested him.

Masih's lawyer based his defense on the requirements of the law itself. In 2004, after increasing pleas for the amendment of blasphemy laws, Pakistan's national assembly made an effort to appease rights groups by permitting only senior police officers to investigate blasphemy cases, a measure which had not been implemented in Masih's case.

Masih was not at the trial. He remained at Kol Lakhpat jail and appeared in the courtroom on video—the first video blasphemy trial in Pakistan. Masih's lawyer plans to appeal the death sentence, he told, a Catholic news service.
The new Pakistani ambassador to the Holy See just presented her credentials to the Holy Father, when he reminded the Pakistani government about the importance of democracy, but (at least according to the AP report), didn't directly address the issue of religious freedom.

1 comment:

Mac said...

He -- well, his speechwriter, presumably -- was simply precisely tracking her speech and, essentially saying "Yes, good point; yes, I like that..." (they present them in writing beforehand); she had indeed specifically mentioned religious freedom, describing its difficulties in Pakistan and saying that government policy is to discourage extremism and persecution of religious minorities. Easier said than done, obviously.