Pakistan on Strike over Blasphemy Laws
Businesses were shut across Pakistan on Friday in a protest strike over moves to amend a blasphemy law that permits the death penalty and which rights campaigners say encourages Islamist extremism.
Conservative religious groups called for a national strike in a bid to block any intended amendment after thousands of Islamists rallied in major cities last week.
The strike went ahead despite a categorical announcement by deputy information minister Samsam Bokhari on Thursday that the government had no intention to amend the controversial law.
Former Information Minister Sherry Rehman from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) sparked fury when he lodged a private member’s bill seeking to abolish the death penalty for blasphemy.
Pakistan provoked international condemnation after the death sentence was passed on a Christian woman found guilty of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.