CSI’s international president, Dr. John Eibner, wrote today to Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pakistan’s new Federal Minister of Law and Justice, asking him to drop the charges against ten Pakistani citizens who have been charged with blasphemy.
Noting that the cases against the accused are “marred by lack of credible evidence and other irregularities,” Eibner argued that “charges of blasphemy are habitually leveled in Pakistan by police officers and other complainants against innocent people for the purposes of revenge or other forms of unworthy personal satisfaction.”
Under sections 295B and C of Pakistan’s penal code, desecrating any part of the Qur’an is punishable by life in prison. Disrespecting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, is punishable by death.
Eibner wrote that the threat to human rights posed by Pakistan’s blasphemy laws goes beyond the punishments meted out by the legal system: “Lives are also threatened and taken extra-judicially. Murderers feel justified and endowed with impunity because of the federal blasphemy law.”
According to the Center for Research and Security Studies, 1,415 people were accused of blasphemy in Pakistan between 1947 and 2021. 81 of them were killed extrajudicially.
While Pakistan has never formally executed a person for blasphemy, many people have spent years in jail on blasphemy charges, including Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent nearly a decade behind bars. People formally charged with blasphemy have included children and mentally disabled people.
The ten Pakistani citizens currently facing blasphemy charges identified in Eibner’s letter include both Christians and Muslims:
- Salamat Mansha Masih
- Sarfraz Ahmad
- Stephen Masih
- M. Tayyab
- Haider Ali
- Muhammad Shahid
- Shagufta Kiran
- Raja Aziz Waris Masih
- Sunny Waqas
- Noman Masih
CSI supports victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and their families, with legal and financial aid.
Christian Solidarity International (CSI) is a Christian human rights organization promoting religious liberty and human dignity.