Pak Islamist groups warn govt against changes in blasphemy law

Pak Islamist groups threatened protests if blasphemy law is amended.

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

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

"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.