Peshawar: Thousands of activists belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), rallied in Peshawar in favour of the country’s blasphemy law. The law has been in the spotlight since November when a court sentenced to death Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, in a case of blasphemy that has exposed deep rifts in the troubled Muslim nation of more than 170 million people.
Salman Taseer, slain governor of Punjab and an outspoken liberal, was gunned down earlier this month by Mumtaz Qadri, one of his own bodyguards, for opposing the law which imposes a death sentence for those who insult the Prophet Mohammad (P.B.U.H).
Religious parties have led demonstrations demanding Mumtaz Qadri release, he has been treated as a hero by some in Pakistan, and religious parties. Chanting “Allah-ho-Akbar”, the crowd demanded the release of Mumtaz Qadri. “Long live Qadri,” proclaimed a placard held up by the demonstrators.
Jamaat-e-Islami leaders addressing the large crowd called upon the government to categorically declare that the blasphemy law would not be amended. The Pakistani government has repeatedly said it had no plans to amend or scrap this law.
While liberal Pakistanis and rights groups say the law is dangerously discriminatory against the country’s minorities, Asia Bibi’s case has become a lightning rod for the country’s Muslim religious right.-Reuters