In The News: Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan

Islamic law was a prominent issue in last week’s elections in Pakistan. According to Reuters, religious parties were “fielding more than 1,500 candidates for national and provincial assemblies, compared with a few hundred in 2013.” The article describes a normalization of campaign rhetoric and slogans “accusing opponents of blasphemy or treason.”

Imran Khan, who has declared victory amid accusations of poll rigging, was one of the candidates accused of politicizing Islamic law, telling a gathering of Muslim leaders in Islamabad a few days before the elections that he would “defend” the country’s controversial anti-blasphemy laws. These laws mandate the death penalty for any perceived insult against the Prophet Muhammad, and have been criticized for being overwhelmingly used to persecute religious minorities.

SHARIAsource has published several commentaries related to Islamic law in Pakistan, including:

  • The blasphemy trial of Asia Bibi, which has raised questions about how public opinion can influence the judicial process
  • A comparison of women’s right to divorce in Pakistan and India
  • The expanding role of the Federal Shariat Court (for an overview of the Pakistani court system, see our Country Profile)