Islamabad, Pakistan, Jul 10, 2018 / 16:17 pm
A candidate for prime minister in Pakistan’s upcoming general election has defended the country’s controversial blasphemy laws, which have been used to harass, jail, and kill members of religious minorities disproportionately.
Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, a centrist party, said he fully supports the blasphemy law of the Pakistan Penal Code. The statement was made July 7 after giving an address at the Ulema and Mashaikh Conference at Golra Sharif in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad.
“We are standing with Article 295c and will defend it,” said Khan, according to the Guardian.
A former member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Khan will be considered for prime minister along with Shehbaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim Leage (N) and Bilawal Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
The general election will take place July 25. PML-N is forecast to win the election, though there have been allegations of vote rigging in favor of PTI.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad. Pakistan's state religion is Islam, and around 97 percent of the population is Muslim.
Although the government has never executed a person under the blasphemy law, accusations alone have inspired mob and vigilante violence.
Blasphemy laws are reportedly used to settle scores or to persecute religious minorities; while non-Muslims constitute only 3 percent of the Pakistani population, 14 percent of blasphemy cases have been levied against them.