Shehrbano Taseer, the daughter of the slain governor in Pakistan, has been speaking out against the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Human Rights First brought her to Geneva to address UN delegations on the abuses of these laws.
Taseer’s father, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered by his own bodyguard following his opposition to abuses of Pakistan’s blasphemy statute.
Watch this video of Shehrbano discussing the human rights challenges of putting the defamation of religions concept into practice.
Taseer’s presence in Geneva at the Human Rights Council literally changed the tone of the debate. As we’ve recently told The Economist, it “made it impossible for UN delegates to turn a blind eye to the victims of blasphemy laws.”
Shehrbano shared her personal story and discussed the impact of abusive blasphemy laws Pakistan. Her father was assassinated by his bodyguard on January 4, 2011 for seeking to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and for requesting a presidential pardon for Aasia Bibi, a woman accused of committing blasphemy and sentenced to death.
Shehrbano described her father’s killer’s views as a “mindset” that must be changed. She said, “this is the kind of poisonous mindset and environment that is created and allowed to flourish because of the blasphemy laws…The few, like my father who try to protect minorities are gunned down and silenced…That serves as a future warning to anyone else who dares to criticize the blasphemy laws.”
Despite criticism and even death threats, Shehrbano has quickly become an outspoken proponent of amending her country’s blasphemy laws and against the passage of a UN resolution that could legitimize Pakistan’s national blasphemy laws. She said “I do not wish for any family to have to suffer through what mine has had to. No other nation should lose its brave heart because of this madness in the name of religion.”
Since attending the Council meeting, Human Rights First has continued to work closely with Shehrbano. She has written a number of articles and has willingly spoken with journalists about her experience at the Human Rights Council and the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.
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