Pope Rebukes Pakistan over Blasphemy Law

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Pakistan's Muslims are telling Pope Benedict XVI to stop interfering in their internal affairs.

On Monday, the pontiff sparked controversy by calling on Pakistan to repeal its harsh blasphemy laws. Those laws carry the death sentence for those convicted of insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammed.

"I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities," Benedict said.

Pope Benedict said such laws are often used to stir up violence against religious minorities.

"This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities," he said.

Jamaat-e-Islami, the head of Pakistan's Islamist political party, said the laws are not designed to target anyone and the pope should not interfere.

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman convicted of blaspheming Mohammed, is currently under a death sentence. Salman Taseer, a Pakistani governor who spoke up on her behalf, was murdered last week by one of his own guards for his stance against the nation's blasphemy laws.

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