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Saturday, December 25, 2010
By Shamim Bano
Thousands of supporters of religious groups rallied in Karachi on Friday against the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law, threatening the government with public’s wrath if it moved to amend the law.
The call for the protest was given by the Tehreek-e-Namoos-e-Risalt which was supported by a number of religious groups from different schools of thought. Protesters gathered outside hundreds of mosques in the city to defend the law.
Former information minister Sherry Rehman submitted a draft bill to the National Assembly in November, seeking an end to the death penalty under the existing law after a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was given the death sentence for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
At this, religious groups joined hands to defend the law and in a meeting in Lahore on December 16 they announced a multi-phase, countrywide campaign to press the government to refrain from bringing any change in the law.
The protesters — belonging to Brelvi, Deobandi, Shia, Ahle Hadith and other sects — vowed to continue their protests till the government withdrew the bill from the lower house of parliament. They also demanded ouster of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for lobbying to get a pardon for Asia Bibi from the president of the country.
The rally adopted several resolutions, asking the government to stick to the punishment awarded to Asia Bibi and sack the Punjab governor.
Strict security measures were seen en route of the rally. A massive gridlock was also witnessed on MA Jinnah Road.
The religious groups also announced they would observe a countrywide shutter-down strike on December 31. Besides, a public meeting will be held on January 9.