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Sherani, Head of CII willing to review blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani talking to Reuters on Thursday

Islamabad: Head of the Islamic Ideology Council (CII), Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, in a recent interview on Thurdsay, January 28, 2016, said that he is willing to review blasphemy laws to decide if they are Islamic.

Talking to Reuters in an interview in his office, Sherani said, “The government of Pakistan should officially, at the government level, refer the law on committing blasphemy to the Council of Islamic Ideology. There is a lot of difference of opinion among the clergy on this issue.”

“Then the council can seriously consider things and give its recommendation of whether it needs to stay the same or if it needs to be hardened or if it needs to be softened,” Sherani added

Islamic Ideology Council is a constitutional body of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, responsible for giving legal advice on Islamic issues to the government and the Parliament. The body was founded in 1962 under the government of Ayub Khan.

Sections 298, 298A, B and C and 295, 295A, B and C of the Pakistani Constitution refer to blasphemy against any religion or religious figure. 295C the most brutal of these sections refers to use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, etc. defiles the name of Muhammad punishable with death sentence.

From 1987 to 2014, 1300 people have been accused of blasphemy, mostly non-Muslims, the popular cases being of Asia Bibi and Rimsha Masih.

Many of the blasphemy victims have been lynched before the cases reached the court. Many a non-Muslim colonies burnt and ransacked on accusation of blasphemy. Important cases being of Shamah and Shahzad who were burnt alive in a brick kiln and Joseph Colony and Gojra incidents where entire Christian colonies were burnt to ground.

Talking about the blasphemy law has become somewhat of a taboo in Pakistan as it can lead to serious life threats. Former Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer was assinated in 2011 when he spoke up against the place of blasphemy laws in Pakistani Constitution.