Twelve members of the Oireachtas have signed a petition to the Ambassador of Pakistan, Ms Aisha Farooqui, expressing their deep concern at the continuing misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan and its disproportionate effect on religious minorities including Christians.
Among those who signed the petition are two party leaders: Ivana Bacik TD (Labour) and Peadar Tóibín (Aontú); and two party spokespeople on Foreign Affairs: Seán Haughey (Fianna Fáil) and Brendan Howlin (Labour); together with independent Senators Rónán Mullen and David Norris.
In the petition (full text below), the TDs and Senators express their concern that Pakistan’s blasphemy law provides a pretext for false allegations, arbitrary arrest and violence against religious minorities and point out that more people are imprisoned under blasphemy charges in Pakistan than in any other country in the world.
David Turner (Director, Church in Chains) said: “We are encouraged by the response of the TDs and Senators who have signed this petition. In addition, a number of other TDs wrote directly to the Pakistani Ambassador or to Micheál Martin (Minister for Foreign Affairs) while three TDs (Richard Bruton, Brendan Smith and Robert Troy) responded by tabling questions in the Dáil on the matter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“The various responses from the Oireachtas show a widespread concern across the political spectrum in Ireland about the ongoing detrimental effect Pakistan’s blasphemy law is having on many innocent people – especially members of religious minorities including Christians.”
The petition was signed by: Ivana Bacik TD, Seán Canney TD, Michael Collins TD, Noel Grealish TD, Seán Haughey TD, Brendan Howlin TD, Mattie McGrath TD, Senator Rónán Mullen, Carol Nolan TD, Senator David Norris, Brendan Smith TD and Peadar Tóibín TD.
I write, as a member of the Oireachtas, to express my deep concern at the continuing misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan and its disproportionate effect on religious minorities including Christians.
It is clear, based on the multiplicity of reports from monitoring agencies including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, that Pakistan’s blasphemy law provides a pretext for false allegations, arbitrary arrest and violence against religious minorities. More people are imprisoned under blasphemy charges in Pakistan than in any other country in the world.
The blasphemy law in Pakistan has attracted wide international concern, including at the European Parliament in 2021 when a motion was passed describing its effect as “exacerbating existing religious divides and thus fomenting a climate of religious intolerance, violence and discrimination”.
I ask therefore that you convey our appeal to your government to act now to reform the blasphemy law to ensure that false accusations (often made to settle personal scores) are penalised and that cases are dealt with speedily rather than the present situation where blasphemy law cases are adjourned repeatedly, prolonging the suffering of those accused.