Christians Call for Pakistan to Drop Oppressive Blasphemy Laws

Groups Say Law Targets Christians

A petition circling around Canada is calling for Pakistan to drop its blasphemy laws.

The Islamic republic’s law has grave consequences for the nation’s Christians, including some who are facing death for their beliefs.

An unidentified woman, and mother of four, was arrested in February under the controversial law, according to International Christian Concern, an advocacy group working with Christians worldwide.

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The ICC reports that the woman, who was released from prison Oct. 18, still faces the death penalty if she is found guilty of blasphemy.

The ICC alleges that prison guards and others in Pakistan attempted to get the women to convert to Islam during her eight-months behind bars.

“Once, a prison warden asked me to accept Islam,” the woman said according to reports by the ICC. “She offered me better treatment, food, clothes and other luxuries for embracing Islam but I refused flatly.”

At least 35 Christians have been killed since 1986 under the country’s blasphemy laws, according to reports.

The law is vague and allows the death penalty to be applied to anyone who directly or indirectly defiles the name of the Prophet Mohammed, The Vancouver Sun reported.

"This is not about politics. This is not anti-Islam. This is about human rights," said Imtiaz Nadeem Bhatti, the Pakistani-native who is organizing the Canadian petition.

Bhatti is the nephew of former Pakistani Minister of Religious Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, who was assassinated Mar. 2010 after trying to change the country’s blasphemy laws.

The controversial law made headlines earlier this year when Asia Bibi, a Christian mother, was sentenced to death after being accused of Blasphemy by another villager.

"Anybody can accuse anybody. Every day, the abuse is increasing," Bhatti said.

Freedom House, a research and advocacy group based in Washington D.C., is monitoring the conditions in Pakistan.

“Although many other countries have laws against blasphemy, the situation in Pakistan is unique in its severity and its particular effects on religious minorities,” Freedom House said in a recent study.

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