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Christians ask PM to protect Pakistani minorities

Petition of more than 6,000 people handed in to 10 Downing Street by delegation including Aid to the Church in Need

By on Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Neville Kyrke-Smith and Wilson Chowdhry hand in the petitions at 10 Downing Street (Photo: John Newton)

Neville Kyrke-Smith and Wilson Chowdhry hand in the petitions at 10 Downing Street (Photo: John Newton)

Petitions calling for action to protect Christians and other minorities in Pakistan have been handed in at 10 Downing Street.

The documents, bearing the names of more than 6,000 people, were presented at Number 10 by an ecumenical delegation that included Neville Kyrke-Smith, director of Aid to the Church in Need UK, the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians.

The visit to the Prime Minister’s residence on Saturday July 2 came at the end of a two-mile protest march highlighting human rights violations in Pakistan.

Both the march and the petitions called for protection of Christians and other minorities amid widespread criticism of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which impose sentences including execution and life imprisonment for offences against Islam.

The Pakistani authorities have been criticised for inaction over widespread abuse of the laws and the petitions called for improved law enforcement.

Earlier this year Punjab governor Salman Taseer and federal minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed after criticising the controversial legislation and related mob violence.

Tributes to Mr Bhatti were paid at the event which was organised by Wilson Chowdhry and the British Pakistani Christian Association and involved Aid to the Church in Need, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Christian Concern.

Speaking outside Number 10 Mr Kyrke-Smith said: “Please help us to change these blasphemous blasphemy laws. They lead to killings.”

Sikhs, Hundus and Muslims also took part in the event.