Date: April 19, 2017
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
SOUTHALL, UNITED KINGDOM (ANS -- April 19, 2017) -- A British Christian advocacy group has welcomed the Pakistani Parliament’s calls for reform of that country’s blasphemy laws after student’s killing.
The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is a Christian charity dedicated to helping persecuted Christians in Pakistan.
Since 1998, CLAAS workers, lawyers, volunteers and supporters have championed the cause of the persecuted Christians and other minorities in Pakistan and have helped thousands of poor and traumatized victims of religious persecution. CLAAS’ ministry is based on Proverbs: 31:8-9: "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
The endorsement comes after a university student was killed by a mob on April 14 after being accused of the offence which carries the death penalty for insulting Islam.
A resolution passed by the National Assembly condemned the lynching and stated that safeguards must be included in the law to stop it being abused in the future.
Pakistan’s top court is investigating the murder of the student from Abdul Wali Khan University in north-western Pakistan, allegedly for his views on sufi Islam and socialism.
The blasphemy laws are a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, and vigilantes often take the law into their own hands and kill people accused of blasphemy.
The student was brutally beaten to death over allegations he promoted ‘blasphemous’ content on social media.
Another student was injured in the incident which took place on the university premises, prompting officials to close the campus.
According to reports, a total of 45 people have been detained in connection with the mob attack.
Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, has welcomed the parliament’s resolution regarding introducing safeguards to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law, and to prevent the ongoing killing of innocent people.
“It is great news, as in the past whoever tried to speak about changes in the blasphemy law was shut up and even threatened with death,” he said.
“Those who raised their voices, like Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti, were killed in broad daylight, and their killers hailed as heroes.”
Saeed further said it is encouraging that parliament has agreed to stop the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law and hopes it will stick to its word and give the matter priority.
“I wish the Pakistani parliament had taken this step and realized the sensitivity of the issue earlier, saving many innocent people who were killed for a crime they never committed. Their lives could have been saved, but it is still not too late.”
Photo captions: 1) Campaign to repeal blasphemy laws in Pakistan. (CLAAS Photo) . 2) CLAAS Logo. 3) Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.