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EU urges Pakistan to push for repeal of blasphemy laws

EU: blasphemy laws are increasingly used to target vulnerable minority groups in Pakistan

Published: Updated:

The European parliament called Thursday on Pakistan to overhaul its blasphemy laws with a view to repealing them, saying they were “increasingly used to target” Christians and other minorities.

The parliament expressed particular concern about the case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death four years ago for insulting the prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.

Her sentence was upheld last month by a high court in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, dashing hopes the conviction might be overturned or commuted to a jail term.

In a non-binding resolution, members of the European parliament in Strasbourg, France expressed their concern that blasphemy laws “are increasingly used to target vulnerable minority groups, including Ahmedis and Christians, in Pakistan.”

The resolution “calls on the government of Pakistan to carry out a thorough review of the blasphemy laws and their current application ... with a review to repealing the laws.”

It also “calls on the government of Pakistan to abolish the death penalty, including for blasphemy or apostasy.”

Around 50 MEP’s meanwhile wrote to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini urging her to ask Pakistan to show clemency toward Asia Bibi.

In a final recourse in her case, Bibi filed an appeal in Pakistan’s top court Monday.

Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in the majority Muslim country, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence.

Pakistan has never executed anyone for blasphemy and has had a de-facto moratorium on civilian executions since 2008.

But anyone convicted, or even just accused, of insulting Islam, risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.