Rights group calls on Pakistan to urgently reform its blasphemy law

Wednesday, August 22, 2012
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Islamabad:Amnesty International on Tuesday issued a statement calling on the Pakistani government to urgently reform its blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty.

The statement comes close on the heels of violation of the country's blasphemy laws by a Christian girl which has sparked off outrageous as she allegedly desecrated a religious text.

Amnesty International is urging the Pakistani government to ensure the safety of this girl.

Police arrested Ramsha Masih last week after angry neighbors surrounded her house in Islamabad and accused her of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Quran. Some said she was burning papers from the garbage for cooking.

Meanwhile, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a probe into the girl's case. She is reported to be mentally handicapped and as young as 12.

The London-based human rights group welcomed President Zardari's "swift response," but said such actions will "count for little" unless the blasphemy laws are reformed.

Amnesty urged Pakistani officials to ensure the laws cannot be used to maliciously settle disputes or enable private citizens to take matters into their own hands.

Religious minorities have been disproportionately accused of blasphemy. But a large proportion of victims are from the Muslim majority.
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