I spoke to British city councillor Raza Anjum about 10 hours ago who told me that right wing Muslim groups were preparing to rally against any changes in Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He told me that the ruling party leaders had proposed changes in the laws which criminalize speaking against Muhammad. However, the opposition party is standing against any changes. Despite their opposition, Anjum was planning to meet with the opposition later in the day.
According to this article, the extremist groups did indeed rally, about 4000 people in three locations and threatened sustained protests and worse if the laws were amended.
Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi’s case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country.
In the port city of Karachi, more than 2,000 people rallied against Rehman’s proposed draft bill and demanded the government give Bibi a severe punishment for insulting Prophet Mohammad.
Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields.
Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.
Leaders of JUI and radical Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party warned that the government would “face a strong reaction if Bibi was pardoned.”
”The government should forget about amending the blasphemy law as any attempt in this regard will prove fatal,” a local religious leader Yahya Ludhianvi said.