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Monday 27 February 2012

Ireland - Church in Chains Topical Issue to be discussed just after Anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti's Martyrdom

David Turner from Church in Chains confirms date of 6th March for the collaborative attempt for Global Parliamentary debate on Pakistan to honour Shahbaz Bhatti:

Hi Wilson,

Glad to hear of involvement of Canada, Holland and USA as well as UK.

The procedure for Topical Issues in the Dáil (Irish parliament) is that any member can submit a  topical issue to the Ceann  Comhairle (Speaker) on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Typically, at least 20 issues are submitted. The Ceann Comhairle then selects 4 topics for discussion on the floor of the Dáil. We are aiming for Tuesday 6 March (the first sitting day after the anniversary of Shabhaz’s killing).

Attached is a copy of the text that we’ve suggested to our TDs.

In fellowship,



The need for reform of the blasphemy law in Pakistan

To be submitted on Tuesday 6 March

This is the first sitting day of the Dáil since the first anniversary of the murder of Shabhaz Bhatti, Pakistani Federal Minister for Minorities, on 2 March 2011. Minister Bhatti was a brave man, an outspoken critic of the misuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and a courageous advocate of reform.

Shabhaz Bhatti, like Governor Salman Taseer who was murdered in January 2011, had been a prominent supporter of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five sentenced to death under the blasphemy law in November 2010 and who remains in solitary confinement (for her own safety) in a Pakistani jail as she waits for her appeal to be heard.

I would like the House to mark the anniversary by the reiterating our support for Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which acknowledge the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

I consider that recognition of a crime of blasphemy offends the basic human rights of freedom of religion and speech and believe that all governments have a duty to protect their citizens from violent religious extremists – and, indeed, to protect their own officials who support freedom of religion, such as the assassinated Shabhaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer.

I urge the Minister to call on the government of Pakistan to reform its blasphemy law, in line with the proposals brought by Minister Bhatti.

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