Pakistan: 68 lawyers charged with blasphemy

Police in the Pakistani province of Punjab on May 13 filed charges of blasphemy against 68 lawyers for protesting police actions. Last week several dozen lawyers, mostly from Pakistan's Shi'ite minority, staged a protest against a high-ranking police official for detaining and beating a lawyer following a disagreement. The blasphemy charges underscore more widespread tensions between Sunnis and Shi'ites in Pakistan that have resulted in religious and politically-motivated violence. It is not yet known when the lawyers' case will be tried.

There have been many incidents involving Pakistan's highly contentious blasphemy laws in recent years. In March a Pakistani judge sentenced a Christian man to death for blasphemy. In January a court in Pakistan sentenced a man to death for being found to have written letters claiming to be a prophet. In August of last year a Pakistani courtdismissed charges against a cleric who was arrested for allegedly framing a Christian girl accused of blasphemy. In April of last year the Lahore High Court in Pakistan acquitted a Christian man sentenced to death for blasphemy. In November 2012 a Pakistani court ordered police to drop blasphemy charges against a 14-year-old Christian girl, which sparked international concern over the use of the country's controversial law.

From Jurist, May 14. Used with permission.