Pak Islamist groups warn govt against changes in blasphemy law
Last Updated: Sunday, December 26, 2010, 00:54
Islamabad: Hardline religious parties and groups, including the LeT-linked Jamaat-ud-Dawah, have threatened countrywide protests if the controversial Pakistani blasphemy law is amended or attempt made to commute the death sentence of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

Thousands of supporters of hardline religious parties and groups, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, joined protests across Pakistan yesterday to step up pressure on the government not to make any changes in a controversial blasphemy law.

They warned the government of countrywide protests if any attempt is made either to amend the law or commute the death sentence of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy last month.

Large rallies were organised in several cities, including Islamabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Quetta and Karachi by groups like the Tehrik-e-Tahfooz Khatm-e-Naboowat and Tehrik Hurmat-e-Rasool, which has close links to the JuD.

Workers of religious parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam too joined the protests.

Addressing the rallies in different cities, leaders said the religious groups would oppose any move by parliament to change the blasphemy law.

They said Muslims are ready to die to defend the law and any changes to it will not be accepted. The protestors also called for a 'jihad' in favour of the law.

In Lahore, hundreds of people attended a rally organised by the Tehrik Hurmat-e-Rasool outside the JuD?s headquarters in Chauburji and vowed to protect the blasphemy laws.

Addressing the rally, JuD leader and Tehrik Hurmat-e-Rasool convener Amir Hamza said a criminal case should be registered against those showing a "soft corner" for Asia Bibi.

Hamza asked Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, who has called for the Christian woman to be pardoned, not to become a "tool" in the hands of the US.

Senior JuD leader Abdur Rehman Makki said the protestors would sacrifice their lives but would not allow anyone to change the blasphemy law.

"The Christian woman must meet her fate for committing blasphemy against the Prophet," he said.

Earlier, addressing a Friday prayer gathering at Jamia Qadsia mosque in Chauburji, JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed warned the government against trying to repeal the blasphemy law.

"I want to tell those who are trying to repeal the blasphemy law that we will not allow them to do so. We will strongly resist any such move," he said.


First Published: Sunday, December 26, 2010, 00:54

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