An influential court in Pakistan is calling for the mandatory death sentence for blasphemy. VOM Australia’s partner, UK-based religious liberty group Release International believes the move – if implemented – could result in further attacks and accusations against Pakistan’s Christian minority.
It could also lead to the execution of those who have been falsely accused of blasphemy.
The ruling by the Federal Sharia Court represents a significant push towards hard-line Islamic law in Pakistan. Release contacts fear death by hanging could come within weeks of conviction if the President decides to implement the order, which was passed by the Sharia court last Wednesday.
Currently, most defendants convicted of blasphemy are serving a life sentence, even though the official penalty for defaming Islam’s prophet Mohammed is death. The decision by the Sharia court would rule out jail sentences for those found guilty of blasphemy and mandate their execution.Accusations of blasphemy are often levelled against individuals as a way of taking revenge or settling scores. Just the accusation can result in assassination, even for those cleared of the charges.
Currently, many Christians are convicted and then spend years in jail waiting for their appeal to be heard in court. They include Asia Bibi, the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy ‘ a charge she denies. Asia, a farm labourer from Punjab, remains on death row, awaiting appeal; she was first detained in 2009.
Source: Release International
- Pray the Lord will intervene in this situation so that changes to these blasphemy laws will not come about. Pray instead the Lord will encourage the Pakistani government authorities to pursue justice, truth and benevolence.
- Ask the Lord to protect His children in Pakistan from false accusation.
- Pray for Asia Bibi and others like her who have been convicted of blasphemy.