European Parliament: Report 2015-16 on Freedom of Religion & Belief launched,
Apropos to the growing violation of human rights of religious minorities around the world, the European Parliament’s Inter-group on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance (FoRB& RT) has launched its critical annual report 2015-16. The auspicious launch ceremony was held on 30th June in the European Parliament in Brussels. The report highlights the 53 countries, including Pakistan, where freedom of religion or belief continues to be severely restricted and religious intolerance keeps growing. The report also proposes recommendations for EU foreign policy.
The speakers were of the view that EU’s relations, especially the trade policy must ensure that Freedom of religion and Religious Tolerance are treated with decorum and respect by the countries in focus. Co-Chairman Peter Van Dalen MEP expressed that persecution of Christians of Pakistan is rapidly growing. The climax of it was this year’s Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore. Asia Bibi and several others are facing harsh injustice in the form of death sentence for Blasphemy. Co-Chairman Dennis de Jong MEP commented that freedom of religion shouldn’t be a hobby for an ambassador but a core human value.

PCPF Delegation: A four member delegation comprising of Ijaz Mathew Zulfquar, Elizabeth Jansen, Marie Therese and Kashif Anwar attended the occasion. In his speech the delegation head, Ijaz Mathew Zulfquar said that freedom of religion is the very question of our existence as free human beings and equal citizens. He said that the courts in Pakistan are awarding death penalty every day like a generous charity is distributing soup bowls to the street poor. Judges are afraid of their own lives because they know if they don’t send the accused to gallows, the religious extremists will kill them as well. This is the reason that Asia Bibiand others cannot expect fair trials. He argued that EU diplomats should urge government of Pakistan to provide security to the judges and give them the confidence to do justice to people under trial. He said that there was no sense and need of the Blasphemy Law. It was merely an evil plan of a bad general in Pakistan because he needed a tool to continue his rule by fear. The general has met his fate but we have been picking up the thorns sown by him with our eyes for four decades. He could say with all responsibility that Asia Bibi and other accused of this crime had not committed Blasphemy. Atrocities against our people are growing. Just last week two major incidents have happened; a Christian woman was raped in the presence of her family to punish her for the mistake of her brother and a court has sentenced to death more Christians and a Muslim for Blasphemy.This carnage in the name of religion must be stopped.