A piper leads the protest marchers through London (photo: Aid to the Church in Need)
Petitions urging greater safety for Christians in Pakistan signed by more than 6,000 people have been handed in at the Pakistani high commission in London and the British prime minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street. They called for action to protect Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. They were delivered at the start and end of a two-mile protest march on July 2 by 300 people, highlighting human rights violations in Pakistan and organized by the British Pakistani Christian Association. Another petition, signed by 4,500 people, called for the release of the Christian mother-of-five Asia Bibi, sentenced to death in Pakistan under the much-criticized blasphemy laws. In a speech, Imam Dr Taj Hargey, from the Muslim Educational Centre in Oxford, condemned Pakistani extremists carrying out violence in the name of the blasphemy laws. “The people who carry out such violence malign my faith and bring it into disrepute. They stand for everything I am against,” he said, quoting sources showing the Prophet Muhammad’s respect for Christians. “The blasphemy laws are bad laws [and] have destroyed Pakistan’s reputation in the international community,” said Bishop Nazir Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, Kent, who is of Pakistani origin.