URI appeals for end to blasphemy convictions in Pakistan

23 December 2010, 11:42 AM

URI Executive Director Charles Gibbs wrote an open letter to the people of Pakistan on December 23 urging them to reject their country’s blasphemy law. Islamist parties were planning to demonstrate in the streets in support of the law after President Asif Ali Zardari formally pardoned Asia Bibi, a Christian woman whose conviction after a workplace dispute spawned international outcry. One Pakistani cleric even put a bounty on her head.

Citing the democratic ideals of Pakistan national hero and founding father Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gibbs wrote: “I pray that this magnificent vision from Pakistan’s earliest days will hold sway, not only in Pakistan but throughout the world, during these troubled times when cultures of extremism pose such a profound threat to human well being.

“I pray, too, for the day when the people of Pakistan live in peace and prosperity, when Pakistan is a model of peaceable coexistence for the world, and the people of Pakistan live, as they did for so many years, without a blasphemy law.”

The letter was sent to various English-language media outlets in Pakistan, following up on a letter Rev. Gibbs sent to President Zardari earlier this month. It was published online by the Pakistan Christian Post.