Christian and human rights activists have hailed Pakistan’s Supreme Court decision that the nation’s notorious blasphemy laws, which have been used to target religious minorities, can be reformed. “The court’s judgment has provided hope to many that Pakistan may actually be able to reform its notorious blasphemy law. For many years, reform to the blasphemy laws was thought to be impossible because of the influence and fear of religious extremist groups in Pakistan. This recent judgement has opened the door for reform,” said International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for South Asia, William Stark. “Now, Pakistan as a society must take the next steps to walk through it. Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan have historically suffered under the country’s blasphemy laws. Disproportionately accused and convicted with little to no evidence, the call for adequate safeguards against false accusations is truly a step in the right direction,” Stark added.

The three-judge bench said in its 39-page ruling that “Seeking improvement to a manmade law in respect of a religious matter for better or proper enforcement of such law does not ipso facto amount to criticizing the religious aspect of such law.” The ruling was part of a verdict in a high-profile case involving the killing of a politician with outspoken views on the blasphemy laws, The Wall Street Journal noted. The judges warned that such “religious vigilantism” will greatly harm the rule of law in Pakistan, and warned that “tolerance stands depleted to an alarming level.” FULL REPORT