Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws have been a matter of discussion of late. It’s no secret that there is a large section of society who believe that those accused of violating the blasphemy laws aren’t actually guilty but a victim of politically motivated hate. There have been countless protests, within the country and outside, to amend the laws that are being used to oppress innocent people – or repeal them, altogether.
The iconic Colosseum of Rome in Italy was lit red on Saturday to protest the persecution of Asia Bibi
Alongside Asia Bibi, who many believe to have been wrongly convicted under the blasphemy laws, the gathering was for condemning the persecution of Christians around the world.
According to Reuters, Asia Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih said his wife was innocent of blasphemy. Speaking at the gathering in Rome he said, “this is just hate against Christians, who are considered impure”.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have attracted global attention after incidents like Asia Bibi‘s conviction and the murder of Mashal Khan who was wrongly accused of committing blasphemy
Due to the existence of blasphemy laws and the understanding that if someone kills a person accused of violating the blasphemy laws they will be protected under the law, many have resorted to vigilantism and taking illegal routes.
There has been strong suspicion that those accused of blasphemy are killed by vigilantes not because of religious sentiments but for personal enmity.
Of late, Pakistan has taken steps to change the way it deals with those who kill in the name of the controversial law
With convictions being announced for the murderers of Salman Taseer and Mashal Khan, despite a lot of room for improvement in the extent of those convictions, the state has taken steps to improve the way it deals with those who misuse the law.
Recently, changes have been announced to the blasphemy laws to punish those who falsely accuse someone of committing blasphemy. According to Dawn.com, Pakistan’s Interior ministry proposed amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 which will potentially punish those who make a false accusation of blasphemy as harshly as those who are punished for actually committing blasphemy.
Upon the Colosseum being turned red, many Pakistanis were quick to express how they felt about such actions actually translating into real world change
Such fine symbolism unlikely to have effect on the barbarians.
— vikas (@vikas6th) February 25, 2018
They should learn to mind their own business…messed up Iraq, Afghanistan so should now STFU
— yasirgkhan (@yasirgkhan) February 25, 2018
It is high time that the country listens to the cries of its minorities. Having been founded on the principle of being a place that will protect the minorities of Indian subcontinent, Pakistan cannot become an oppressor it once sought to stand up to. There is an immediate need in how the state machinery helps protect its innocent from being wrongfully throttled because of the misuse of this controversial law.
Cover image via: euronews.com