A resolution introduced in the US Congress has asked the American government to lead an international effort to repeal blasphemy laws in countries like Pakistan where two high-profile politicians were assassinated this year for opposing the controversial statute.
Introduced by Republican senator James Inhofe, the Senate resolution listed out a series of incidents related to the blasphemy laws in the Muslim world, including Pakistan.
"On January 4, 2011, (Punjab) governor Salman Tasser, who courageously sought to release Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman and mother of five who was sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, was gunned down by his own security guard because of his support for reforming the blasphemy laws," said the resolution, which has been sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"On March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's only Christian Cabinet member and passionate supporter of interfaith tolerance and repeal of Pakistan's blasphemy law, was assassinated by multiple gunmen, leaving his body and vehicle riddled with 80 bullets," it said.
The Senate recognises that religious minority freedoms and rights must be protected, the resolution said. It appealed in the strongest terms that the United States government lead the international effort to repeal existing blasphemy laws.
In the midst of newly acquired freedoms in some of the countries, including those of speech, press and assembly, it is extremely important that religious minorities in these countries be protected from violence and guaranteed the freedom to practice their religion, it said.