Sherry Rehman vows to stay put despite death threats over blasphemy law

Sherry Rehman has said she will not flee the country despite death threats flooding her email inbox and mobile phone.

Karachi: Liberal Pakistan parliamentarian Sherry Rehman, who proposed a bill to reform the nation’s draconian blasphemy laws, has said she will not flee the country despite death threats flooding her email inbox and mobile phone.

“These death threats won’t make me flee,” The Guardian quoted Rehman, who supports reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as saying.

Having championed the same issue that caused Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer`s assassination- reform of Pakistan`s controversial blasphemy laws- Rehman has become a prisoner in her own home since Taseer’s murder almost three weeks ago, as she is, by popular consensus, next on the extremists`` list.

“I get two types of advice about leaving. One from concerned friends, the other from those who want me out so I’ll stop making trouble. But I’m going nowhere,” said the steely politician, adding, “At least for now.”

She has no idea how long her self-imposed house arrest will last, but the precedents are ominous, the paper said, recalling that in 1997, a judge who had acquitted two Christians accused of blasphemy was gunned down three years after the judgment.

"It makes me realise that life is pretty fragile," she said, adding, "But we don``t want to leave. I see no meaning to a life away from my country. It``s my identity, it’s everything."

Giant rallies against blasphemy reform have swelled the streets of Karachi, where clerics use her name, said the paper, adding that there are allegations that a cleric in a local mosque branded her an "infidel" deserving of death, while her opponents tried to file blasphemy charges against her in Multan last week, raising the absurd possibility of Rehman facing a possible death sentence.

"My inbox is inundated. The good news is that a lot of it is no longer hate mail," she said with a grim smile. "But a lot of it is."

When asked about the silence of her colleagues in the ruling Pakistan People’s party on the blasphemy issue, she politely replied: "They feel they want to address this issue at another time." The truth is, they have abandoned her, the paper said.


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