Pope asks Pakistan to scrap blasphemy law



Pope asks Pakistan to scrap blasphemy law Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI on Monday called on Pakistan to scrap a blasphemy law after the murder of the governor of Punjab, saying the legislation was a pretext for "acts of injustice and violence".

"I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law," he said.

"The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction."

The pope, who was speaking at a traditional New Year's meeting with foreign ambassadors to the Vatican, said the anti-blasphemy legislation was an example of "norms prejudicing the right to religious freedom."

More than 50,000 people rallied in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Sunday against the controversial reform of the blasphemy law that was behind the shooting of Punjab governor Salman Taseer last week.

Taseer had called for reform of the blasphemy law that was recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death. But his outspoken liberal stance offended the country's increasingly powerful conservative religious base.

Controversy over the law flared when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a bill in November calling for an end the death penalty for blasphemy, after Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi was sentenced to hang.

PTI