Target: President Mamnoon Hussain
Goal: Abolish discriminatory blasphemy law
Pakistan’s blasphemy law, legislation that criminalizes the practice of any other religion besides Islam, is beginning to make headlines as human rights groups state that the law has increased the amount of attacks, threats and killings of people belonging to a religious minority in the country. The law predates the country’s founding in 1947 but it was during the 80s when, then military dictator Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, modified the law to include the death penalty.
Today, the violence associated with the blasphemy law has been savage, inhumane and unjust. Muslim extremists have kidnapped, tortured and killed followers of minority religions who have been accused of blasphemy and countless others are on death row or are serving life sentences according to Human Rights Watch. Victims of the blasphemy law include former Gov. Salman Taseer who was assassinated by his own guard after he defended a Christian woman on trial for blasphemy. And, Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti after he fought to make changes in the law.
People who follow alternative versions of Islam are also being targeted and although the Pakistani government has never executed anyone under the law, extremists have perpetuated constant fear in religious minorities or followers who seek to support those who practice other religions. Because of this, the blasphemy law has been purposely abused by those looking to settle personal disputes.
With more than 30 countries in the world upholding blasphemy laws it is time for Pakistan to make a landmark move towards the tolerance and support of other religions. By signing this petition you’ll encourage President Mamnoon Hussain to amend the blasphemy law that criminalizes religious minorities.
Dear President Mamnoon Hussain,
Pakistan has been the site of religious turmoil for many years and it has come to my attention, and the attention of human rights groups, that the blasphemy law is increasingly responsible for the kidnapping, torture and killing of religious minorities in your country. Extremists have spread fear throughout Pakistan with their violent attacks and threats against innocent people — even those who follow Islam and defend religious minorities aren’t safe. I understand that the change is not easy, but it is imperative that the people of Pakistan, especially religious minorities, no longer live in fear.
I encourage you to consider amending the blasphemy law and allowing the Pakistani people to be free to practice whatever religion appeals to them. This monumental move towards tolerance is crucial to the livelihoods of countless individuals.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Juanmonino via gettyimages