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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/2/21

Pakistan denounces EU resolution on blasphemy

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Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Interfaith Harmony Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Saturday said there would be no compromise on the blasphemy laws, as all the Ulema and religious leaders rejected the resolution passed by the European Union in the regard.

Addressing a press conference at the Muthida Ulema Board Seerat Academy, he said no one could be allowed to blasphemy of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the name of freedom of speech or religion and any violence in that regard was also not tolerable.

A negative discussion continued in the European Union regarding Islamophobia and blasphemy, Ashrafi said adding the international propaganda on forced conversions in Pakistan was baseless.

If some elements were found involved such activities, they would be sentenced, he added.

Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari

Responding to the passage of the resolution, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari (while apparently referring to) co-author of the resolution Charlie Weimers of Sweden, said: "It is unfortunate that the co-sponsor of the EU's anti-Pakistan resolution was a member of a party that the Swedish PM Stefan Lofven referred to as 'a neo-fascist single-issue party' with 'Nazi and racist roots'."

She said the pertinent question now was "whether GSP Plus is getting muddied in Islamophobia?"

"We have issues to resolve but there has been more movement now on our Human Rights International Convention commitments than in previous governments. The way forward is dialogue & negotiations, which we have been doing, not extreme public positionings. Unfortunate," she wrote.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Foreign Office Friday expressed its disappointment at the adoption of a resolution at the European Parliament on blasphemy laws in the country.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mr. Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry noted that the unwarranted commentary about Pakistan's judicial system and domestic laws are regrettable.

While reminding the world about growing the anti-Muslims and anti-Islam trends in the world, Chaudhry noted that at a time of rising Islamophobia and populism, the international community must exhibit a common resolve to fight xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence based on religion or belief, and work together to strengthen peaceful co-existence.

The EU resolution

According to the resolution, the situation in Pakistan "continued to deteriorate in 2020 as the government systematically enforced blasphemy laws and failed to protect religious minorities from abuses by non-state actors, with a sharp rise in targeted killings, blasphemy cases, forced conversions, and hate speech against religious minorities including Ahmadis, Shia Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs; whereas abduction, forced conversion to Islam, rape and forced marriage remained an imminent threat for religious minority women and children in 2020, particularly those from the Hindu and Christian faiths".

The EU resolution also criticized the judiciary of Pakistan by saying: the judicial procedures in blasphemy cases in Pakistan are highly flawed; whereas low standards of evidence are required for a conviction and judicial authorities often uncritically accept allegations; whereas the accused are often presumed guilty and have to prove their innocence rather than vice versa.

Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel

The EU resolution expresses particular concern regarding the case of a Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel, who were sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2014. These charges emanated from the alleged sending of text messages disrespectful of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from a phone number registered to Kausar to the person accusing the couple of blasphemy.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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