Islamabad, 20th July, 2010

Civil Society Organizations, Peace and Human Rights Activists are once again shocked and outraged at the vigilante killings in Faisalabad of two young men under trial, accused under the infamous Blasphemy Law.

We strongly condemn the absence of law enforcement, the lack of protection to the under trial accused, and the impunity with which the fanatics who carry out extra-judicial killings are allowed to get away with murder – quite literally.

Whether or not 35-year old Sajid and Rashid would ever have received justice is now an academic debate. They are dead, killed by religious intolerance in the prime of their youth, for no fault of their own except the accident of being born Christian in the theocratic Islamic State of Pakistan, where, two and a half years into its five-year rule, the self-professed progressive Government is unwilling or unable to provide its non-Muslim citizens the required protection and security that the Constitution guarantees them; and where the elected Legislature shows neither the political will nor the commitment to repeal the Zia-imposed Blasphemy Laws.

We demand that the Punjab Government should immediately increase security at law courts, prisons, all places of worship, and should particularly provide protection to all non-Muslim Pakistani citizens in view of recent intelligence reports on specific targeting of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects. We demand that the killers of Sajid and Rashid should be apprehended immediately and dealt with by the full force of the Law, without any leniency or mitigation.

We demand that the federal Ministers for Religious Affairs and Minority Affairs should immediately jointly table a Bill in Parliament to repeal at least Sections 295 B and C of the Blasphemy Laws for a start.

We ask: How many more Shanti Nagars and Gojras and Ayub Masihs and Bishop John Josephs and Sajids and Rashids and Hafiz Farooqs and Naimat Ahmars and Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khans must we suffer before the alarm bells start ringing in the corridors of power? What more will it take?

Tahira Abdullah

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