Ispahani: Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws Persecute the Weakest of the Weak

 Farahnaz Ispahani delivers a keynote address on Pakistan's treatment of religious minorities at the Under Caesar's Sword project symposium "What is to be Done? Responding to the Persecution of Christians," April, 20, 2017. Photo: Nathan Mitchell Photography 

Farahnaz Ispahani delivers a keynote address on Pakistan's treatment of religious minorities at the Under Caesar's Sword project symposium "What is to be Done? Responding to the Persecution of Christians," April, 20, 2017. Photo: Nathan Mitchell Photography 

In this opinion piece for CNN, RFI Senior Fellow and former member of Pakistan’s parliament Farahnaz Ispahani highlights how Pakistan’s abusive blasphemy laws disproportionately harm the most vulnerable in society.  These include Asia Bibi, a Christian woman still languishing in prison after being sentenced to be hanged for a blasphemy accusation arising from her drinking water from a well and cup allegedly belonging to Muslims.

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and the death sentences by which they can be enforced, provide extremists and other accusers a powerful weapon against the weak and—like murdered human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman—against the advocates who stand up for them.

As Ispahani notes, according to a 2016 Amnesty International report, once individuals are accused of blasphemy "they become ensnared in a system that offers them few protections, presumes them guilty, and fails to safeguard them against people willing to use violence."

 Following a dispute over a water cup, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five, was charged with blasphemy and in 2010 was sentenced to death. Appeals are still on-going in her case and she remains in prison. Photo: CNN/Supplied

Following a dispute over a water cup, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five, was charged with blasphemy and in 2010 was sentenced to death. Appeals are still on-going in her case and she remains in prison. Photo: CNN/Supplied

Read Ms. Ispahani’s full CNN piece here: Pakistan's blasphemy laws persecute the weakest of the weak