Pakistani Christian Leader calls for end to misuse of blasphemy laws

Bishop Samuel Azariah calls for end to misuse of blasphemy lawsThe Moderator of the Church of Pakistan has called upon the Pakistani Government to consider repealing the blasphemy laws. Bishop Samuel Azariah warned that the laws were open to "misuse". He said that the recent case of Rimsha Masih, a young Christian girl accused of blasphemy, was "proof of the misuse of the law". An imam who had been among Rimsha's accusers was later arrested on suspicion of planting evidence against her. He warned that there were many more people victimised by the blasphemy laws. "Rimsha's case is one among many," he said.

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Bishop Samuel Azariah

He warned that blasphemy cases like Rimsha's were creating a sense of fear and insecurity. "The religious minorities and even some sects of Muslims have been affected by the misuse of the blasphemy law," he said. "A majority of the cases have proved to be false, which has disturbed the fabric of trust in our society." His comments coincide with a hearing on Pakistan's blasphemy laws organised by the World Council of Churches, of which Bishop Azariah is a member.

The hearing in Geneva is being attended by Christian and Muslim scholars and is being held to address the misuse of the laws and the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan. Bishop Azariah said the hearing was an opportunity for Christians to speak assertively on the blasphemy laws and the injustices they are causing. "This dialogue is an attempt to improve churches' understanding of the situation of religious minorities in Pakistan," he said. "I hope our voices are noted by the higher authorities in Pakistan."

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