Press statement of Mr. M.A. Joseph Francis MBE, National Director CLAAS

As we celebrate International Human Rights Day the recent incident of a Sri Lankan factory manager Mr. Priyantha Diyawadana who was brutally murdered and lynched by a Muslim mob of factory workers in Sialkot on 2nd December 2021, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) southeast of the capital Islamabad. The victim was alleged to have committed blasphemy by tearing the posters bearing the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). According to the media news the Prime Minister has vowed to prosecute the culprit with the full severity of the law.  Regrettably, this action alone is not enough to protect freedom of religion or belief as this is also not the first time that the mere accusation of blasphemy has led to the mob lynching of innocent victims.

This incident is yet another testament to the deteriorating state of human rights in the country and the insidious rise of religious extremism in Pakistan.

We reiterate the need to make procedural amendments to the existing blasphemy law by adding punishment for false blasphemy accusations to deter the continuous misuse of the blasphemy law.

We urge all democratic and progressive voices to call upon the government of Pakistan to take immediate action to curb these non-democratic forces that incite violence in the name of religion. They are not only contaminating our society with hatred but painting a bad picture of Pakistan on the international horizon.

In solidarity