Pakistan Ulema Council acquits six Christians of blasphemy charges

Pakistan Ulema Council on Saturday, acquitted six Christians accused of blasphemy in Lahore.

As per details, the six men are sanitary workers and were accused of blasphemy in a FIR that accused them of throwing pamphlets with Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) name into trash.

The incident occurred three day ago and the issue was duly sent to the Punjab Muttahida Ulema Board.

According to Pakistan Ulema Council Chief Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, the exoneration of six Christian workers is a testament to the rule of law in the country.

The board, in its investigation , unanimously concluded that the men were illiterate and were, therefore, innocent, he said.

Blasphemy in Pakistan

The Pakistan Penal Code, the main criminal code of Pakistan, punishes blasphemy against any recognized religion, providing penalties ranging from a fine to death. From 1967 to 2014, over 1,300 people have been accused of blasphemy, with Muslims constituting most of those accused.

By its constitution, the official name of Pakistan is the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” as of 1956. More than 96% of Pakistan’s 167 million citizens (2008) are Muslims. Among countries with a Muslim majority, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. The first purpose of those laws is to protect Islamic authority.

By the constitution (Article 2), Islam is the state religion. By the constitution’s Article 31, it is the country’s duty to foster the Islamic way of life. By Article 33, it is the country’s duty to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian, and provincial prejudices among the citizens. Under Article 10A of constitution it is also the state’s duty to provide for the right of fair trial.

Pakistan’s support of blasphemy laws has caused it to be active in the international arena in promoting global limitations on freedom of religion or belief and limitations on freedom of expression. In March 2009, Pakistan presented a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which calls upon the world to formulate laws against the defamation of religion.

Between 1986 and 2007, Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with blasphemy offences. Fifty percent of these were non-Muslims, who represent only 3% of the national population. No judicial execution for blasphemy has ever occurred in Pakistan, but 20 of those charged were murdered.