Vatican City, Jan 11: Urging Pakistan to repeal its anti-blasphemy law, Pope Benedict on Monday, Jan 11, demanded the other Muslim countries as well to take steps to protect minority Christians in their regions.
The pope was delivering his annual address to diplomats of about 170 countries days after the Muslim governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer was gunned down by his own bodyguard for opposing the law. The law imposes a death sentence for those who insult the Prophet Mohammad..The pope said the Pakistani law was a pretext for violence against religious minorities.
Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam, an influential party in Pakistan, termed the pope's remarks offensive to the Muslim country. The party's senior leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said the ppe's statement is nothing but interference in Pakistan's internal matters.
"The pope has given a statement today that has not only offended the 180 million Muslims in Pakistan, it has also hurt the sentiments of the entire Islamic world," he said.
A Pakistan court sentenced a Christian mother of four, Asia Bibi, to death in a case that exposed deep rifts in Pakistan and since then the law has been in the spotlight.
The pope urged Pakistan to abolish the anti-blasphemy law, because it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities..
He renewed his condemnation of attacks on churches that killed dozens in Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria. He said those attacks showed the need to urgently adopt effective measures for the protection of religious minorities.