Dawn: WASHINGTON: Governments around the world are increasingly invoking blasphemy laws, with Pakistan by far the country that jails the most citizens for allegedly attacking religion, a US report said Thursday.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government advisory panel, voiced fear that the rise in laws banning blasphemy was leading to punishment of people who merely express different religious views or who have been falsely accused.
The report found Pakistan used its controversial law at a level “incomparable” to anywhere else, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for alleged blasphemy against Islam.
Pakistan has never carried out the death penalty for blasphemy, but the report charged that the law, and the lack of procedural safeguards, has contributed to an alarming number of mob attacks and vigilante violence against minorities.
Egypt has seen a rise in use of such laws since the 2011 overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak, the report said.
Citing local activists, the report found blasphemy cases involved 63 people in 2011 and 2012 and disproportionately targeted the Christian minority.