US rights commission calls on Pakistan to repeal blasphemy laws

Washington DC [US], March 31 (ANI): USCIRF Commissioner Johnnie Moore has asked Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy laws following a local court's decision to order a police probe against the organisers of a march marking International Women's Day over allegations they committed blasphemy.

"Pakistan couldn't even take a break on International Women's Day from its draconian blasphemy laws. What a shame to the wonderful Pakistani people. USCIRF calls once again on #Pakistan to repeal its blasphemy laws," said US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner to Tuesday (local time).

This comes after a Pakistani court directed authorities to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the organisers of this year's Aurat March in Islamabad for allegedly displaying "obscene posters" and making sacrilegious remarks against religious personalities.

Last Saturday, a local court in Karachi directed the police to record the statement of an applicant and, if any cognisable offence was made out, then register an FIR against the organisers of the march in Islamabad, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

The Aurat March is an annually-held demonstration, organised in various cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar to observe International Women's Day.

Aurat March, which started in 2018, is carried out every year on International Womens' Day to highlight atrocities against women.

Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari earlier this week had called the misuse of blasphemy laws to target Aurat March organisers as 'regrettable'.

Bilawal's comments came during a meeting with organisers of the Aurat March's Karachi chapter following a flurry of hate, threats of violence, and intimidation against women, the transgender community, and non-binary folks protesting against oppression on International Women's Day, according to Geo News.

In December 2020, USCIRF published a report on 'Violating Rights: Enforcing the World's Blasphemy Laws', which examines the enforcement of blasphemy laws worldwide. This report found that the country with the most cases of state-enforced blasphemy laws was Pakistan, with 184 cases identified between 2014-2018



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