Pakistan prime minister will not amend blasphemy law, Bibi transfers jails
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said recently that the blasphemy law will be retained just the way it is.
In his address to religious scholars at the Ulema and Mashaikh Conference 2011 in Islamabad, Gilani assured the participants that the government has no intention to amend or repeal the controversial blasphemy law, The Express Tribune reported.
In a separate development, Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death by hanging for alleged blasphemy, will be transferred to another jail. The 45-year-old mother of five is awaiting appeal of her case. (See http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2010/12/pakistani-official-dismisses-clergy-offer-of-reward-for-bibi%e2%80%99s-death-14750)..
Recently, moderate Muslim Gov. Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own security guard because he advocated amending the blasphemy law. (See http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/01/muslim-pakistani-governor-assassinated-for-slamming-blasphemy-law-14988).
Taseer also openly supported Bibi. The blasphemy law has been often been abused to settle scores and/or for personal or political gain. This has led to an international outcry from human rights groups for its repeal. (See http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2010/08/human-rights-groups-seek-repeal-of-pakistan%e2%80%99s-blasphemy-law-13356).
Gilani said that even as the law will remain the same, clerics should represent true Islam, and laws should be implemented to protect the rights of all people. Gilani told the religious scholars, “We are not in the favor of amendment in the blasphemy law, but we are not in favor of misuse of the law either…and it does not matter what law it is,” The Express Tribune reported.
Gilani’s statement comes within days of the thrashing and public humiliation of a mother and her daughter by a mob of angry men, because they were accused of blasphemy. However, none of the men who attacked them were present when the alleged blasphemy occurred. (See http://theundergroundsite.com/index.php/2011/01/two-pakistani-christian-women-thrashed-humiliated-by-mob-for-alleged-blasphemy-15079).
Gilani said violence slurs the reputation of the Islamic faith, especially in the West, making the lives of Pakistanis overseas difficult. He said scholars of different religions should work together to bridge peace and understanding, The Express Tribune said.
Religious leaders in the conference said they believe people of all faiths can live together peacefully, even as they regretted that Islam is distorted by vested interests, according to The Express Tribune.
While calling for a deeper understanding of the Quran by everyone, the scholars at the conference said Islam does not differentiate people regardless of belief, color or caste. At the same time, they said they would not allow anyone to change the blasphemy law, The Express Tribune reported.
For her own safety
In a separate development, Bibi will be transferred to an all-women jail for her own safety, The Express Tribune said, noting that she could be harmed by male prisoners.
She will be moved at nighttime within the next week amid heavy security, The Express Tribune said. Bibi was sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly making derogatory remarks about the prophet Mohammed to a group of women who were pressuring her to convert to Islam.