Having listened to the concerns of Christian partners and correspondents in Pakistan, NIFCON (the Network of Inter Faith Concerns for the Anglican Communion) is one of the main sponsors of a petition being drawn up asking the government of Pakistan to repeal the law against blasphemy. In recent years the threat of this law has often been often been used in unjust attacks upon the country’s vulnerable Christian minority, and it seems to have played a part in the recent incident in Gojra which led to the death of a number of Christians.
The Chair of NIFCON’s Management group, the Rt Revd Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher, Ireland, who accompanied the Archbishop of Canterbury on a visit to Pakistan in November 2005, commented: ‘The advocacy of structural change by people internationally signals an awareness of the seriousness of injustice locally. It also expresses a personal solidarity with those who suffer and recognizes publicly that their cry is heard. I am glad to invite people of good will, especially Anglicans, from all over the world to add their voices in support of our Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan.’
The petition is also supported by a number of leading Muslims, in particular Dr Musharraf Hussein, of the Christian-Muslim Forum based in England.
The petition can be accessed here:
It is in the form of an open letter to the government and people of Pakistan and states:
Safety and respect for Christians in Pakistan
In the past weeks a number of Christians in Pakistan have been murdered by violent mobs stirred up by extremists as part of a pattern of violence that has been intensifying in recent years.
These killings have been very widely condemned by Christian and Muslim religious leaders around the world and by the Government of Pakistan as well as by many others.
The attacks have frequently been associated with false accusations of blasphemy or desecration of the Qur’an which have been used to stir up mob violence. The law on blasphemy has provided a ready excuse for those who are motivated to use it for their own ends
The attacks on Christians, and on occasions also on Muslims, facilitated as they are by the law on blasphemy, are very damaging to the reputation of Pakistan and indeed to the reputation of Muslims which we wish to see restored. Indeed we are convinced that living together peacefully for the good of humanity is the heartfelt desire of people of faith.
We who sign this letter – Christians, Muslims and people of other religions or none – from many countries including Pakistan, call upon the political and religious leadership of Pakistan to unite in condemning these attacks and murders in the strongest terms as an evil and a crime.
We urge the Government of Pakistan to take all necessary measures to restore confidence in the police and judiciary by ensuring that those at risk from violence stirred up by extremists are fully protected.
We also urge Parliamentarians and democratic politicians to act decisively to prevent any misuse of the present law to victimise minorities. Muslims and Christians alike are urging the repeal of this ill-advised law and particularly its sections 295 B and 295C, and its replacement with legislation agreed by the consensus of all faiths which will prevent incitement to religious hatred and the defaming of the prophets and founders of the different faiths.
We commit ourselves to continue to work together for justice, peace and reconciliation in our own communities.
The Rt Revd Michael Jackson
Chair, Network for Inter Faith Concerns of the Anglican Communion
Dr Musharraf Hussain
Chair, national Christian-Muslim Forum of England
For more information about the work of NIFCON contact Clare Amos, Director of Theological Studies, at email@example.com or Suminder Duggal, NIFCON Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org