Blasphemy is a big problem in Pakistan

The Commission, through its delegation in Islamabad, followed the Ayub Masih case very closely and expressed its deep concern over the death of the Bishop of Faisalabad.

She took part in an information visit to Faisalabad and Sahiwal and met with staff from the diocese, Ayub Maish's parents and local Christians.

On May 14, 1998, the Union Troika made a demarche to the Pakistani Minister of Justice on blasphemy laws. She expressed grave concern that blasphemy carries the death penalty and stressed the need to take appropriate measures to prevent abuse.

In principle, freedom of religion can be protected despite blasphemy laws. The problem lies in the way in which the law is applied and in the possible abuse of the law, as well as in the penalties provided.

Although Pakistan's current constitution guarantees religious freedom, religious minorities fear that the Islamization of the state could further restrict this freedom. In addition, the death penalty based on blasphemy can be used to threaten and intimidate minorities.

The Commission attaches great importance to all human rights issues in Pakistan, including the protection of religious freedom. It will therefore continue to monitor the situation closely and participate in all measures aimed at improving the human rights situation in the country.