Minorities Group Calls for End to Pakistan’s ‘Weaponized’ Blasphemy Law Targeting Christian Minorities

Minorities Group Calls for End to Pakistan’s ‘Weaponized’ Blasphemy Law Targeting Christian Minorities

The Minorities Alliance Pakistan (MAP), through its president Akmal Bhatti, has called for an end to the government's blasphemy law that it said had been 'weaponized' to target Christian minorities in the country.

According to a report by Crosswalk, MAP issued the call following news about the Supreme Court of Pakistan's granting of bail to two Christians indicted for alleged violation of the country's blasphemy laws.

'Weaponized Legislation Against Christian Minorities'

Bhatti, speaking to a reporter from Morning Star News, said the Pakistani Supreme Court's granting of bail to the two accused is not a good thing.

"Granting bails is not a solution to this menace. We have repeatedly demanded for legislation against false accusers, but the government has paid no heed to our demands," Crosswalk quoted him saying. 

The religious rights advocate added that Pakistan's blasphemy laws victimize minorities.

Bhatti explained that the laws are also used "to settle personal enmities."

He said that the blasphemy laws in the country have been 'weaponized' against Christians and other religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.

Also Read: Human Rights Writers' Group Calls Out President Buhari for Failure to Contain Sustained Killing, Kidnapping of Christians 

Details of the Bail Grant, Jail Release

The report disclosed that Pakistani Supreme Court justices Mazahar Ali Naqvi and Ijaz Ul Ahsan have allowed two accused Christian to post bail for their temporary freedom.

Raja Waris and Patras Masih reportedly received the news on their bail application on Aug. 24. The release order, however, only came out on Aug. 27.

Facts of Masih's Blasphemy Case

Of the two accused, Masih has been languishing in jail for four years.

The report said the 22-year-old Christian had been incarcerated since July 2018.

He was only 18 years old at the time, the report added.

Aneeqa Maria, a lawyer for the Voice Society, which represents Masih, said the two-judge bench granted their petition for bail due to the "peculiar aspect and facts" of their client's case.

Maria explained that the justices concurred with the arguments made by Voice Society's lawyers, which said that Masih had been wrongly charged with Section 295-C of the country's Penal Code.

In their decision granting bail, the two justices mentioned the failure of local police and the Federal Investigation Agency to determine Masih's alleged blasphemy as applicable under Section 295-C.

Moreover, the justices said there was no recommendation from the Muttahida Ulema Board stating that Masih committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.

The recommendation is mandatory for any case to be tried under the blasphemy law, the justices noted.

The same article mentioned that Masih, at the time, posted on Facebook a photo that allegedly blasphemed Muhammad.

Masih's social media post reportedly caused protests by Islamist parties marred by violence.

The report said the violent protests following the backlash against Masih's Facebook post forced an exodus of hundreds of Christian families from Lahore's Shahdara town. 

Sittar Sahil, one of the two lawyers who represented Masih, explained that Masih's social media post did not contain anything blasphemous against the Prophet Muhammad.

Sahil argued that Masih merely posted a photo of the prophet's grave. He said that such an image does not constitute a violation of Section 205-C.

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