A non-binding resolution passed by European parliament urges Islamabad to abolish death penalty and review blasphemy laws.
The European parliament on Thursday called 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 Aasia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death four years ago for insulting Islam’s Prophet during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. The Lahore High Court upheld her sentence last month, 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 Ahmadis 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 Aasia Bibi. In a final recourse in her case, Bibi filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on Monday.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in Pakistan, with even unproven allegations often prompting mob violence. No one has ever been executed for blasphemy and there has been 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.