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Pakistan: Authorities must protect Christians against vicious 'blasphemy' attacks

© Rizwan Tabassum/AFP via Getty Images

Vigilante mobs attack at least five churches and homes of minority Christian community in city of Jaranwala

Country has long history of blasphemy laws leading to human rights violations

‘The Pakistani authorities continue to create a permissive environment for human rights violations’ - Rehab Mahamoor

In response to arson attacks against at least five churches and attacks on Christian homes in the Pakistani city of Jaranwala after allegations of blasphemy were made against two Christian residents, Rehab Mahamoor, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, said:

“The Pakistani authorities must urgently ensure the protection of the minority Christian community in Jaranwala and immediately address violence against religious minorities.

“Vicious mob attacks are just the latest in the threat of vigilante violence which anyone can face in Pakistan after a blasphemy accusation - with religious minorities disproportionately vulnerable to attacks.

“The blasphemy laws have long been misused and the Pakistani authorities need no more evidence to see how dangerous the laws are. By ignoring the longstanding call to repeal the blasphemy laws, the Pakistani authorities continue to create a permissive environment for human rights violations.”

Earlier attacks

On 7 August, a teacher accused of blasphemy in the town of Turbat was shot and killed, while in February a man accused of desecrating the Quran was dragged out of a police station by a vigilante mob and beaten to death in the city of Nankana. In December 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager in the city of Sialkot was beaten to death after being accused of blasphemy by a mob who burnt his body after killing him.

Blasphemy laws lead to human rights violations

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are broadly worded leaving them open to abuse, with those accused of the “offence” largely unable to defend themselves. In a clear perversion of the rule of law, those accused of blasphemy are often presumed to be guilty on the basis of little or no evidence. In a major report from 2016, Amnesty documented at length how Pakistan’s blasphemy laws lead to a wide range of human rights violations.


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