British Pakistani Christians protest against blasphemy law

The Pakistani Christian community in Britain has led a protest against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The blasphemy laws have been blamed for much of the persecution against Christians in Pakistan and for increasing inter-religious tensions.

Human rights groups say that the blasphemy laws are frequently misused by extremists to level false charges against Christians in order to settle personal scores or seize property or businesses from them.

The protest in central London on Saturday was joined by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, a Pakistani Christian, and Dr Martin Stern, a Jewish Holocaust survivor and former medical student at Peshawar University.

It was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association and was held to coincide with the one year anniversary of the arrest of Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel, two pastors shot dead outside a court in Faisalabad after being acquitted of blasphemy.

A worship service was held before a protest march from the Pakistan High Commission in Knightsbridge to 10 Downing Street.

Petitions urging pressure on Pakistan to revise its harsh blasphemy laws were handed over at both addresses.

The march was supported by the South Asian Forum. Its national coordinator, Manoj Raithatha, said: “We believe this protest is an opportunity to promote interfaith harmony and to highlight Pakistan's poor performance in human rights."