After serving five years of the life sentence of hard labor for false blasphemy allegations, last week Pakistani Hindu school teacher and principal Notan Lal was released from prison. Notan Lal was imprisoned after a student falsely accused him of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. 

HAF Managing Director Samir Kalra applauded the release, stating:

“We are relieved to see Mr. Lal has been freed after five long years of wrongful imprisonment and hard labor. Securing the Mr. Lal’s freedom has been a top priority for the Hindu American community, with over 2000 Hindu American advocates writing to their members of Congress urging them to take action to secure his release. Now that the day has finally come, we hope the Government of Pakistan will take additional steps to provide security to Mr. Lal to protect him against the mob violence that is all too frequent in Pakistan when false blasphemy allegations arise.”

Pakistan has some of the world’s most draconian blasphemy laws, disproportionately imprisoning Hindu and Christian minorities. While punishments can vary, the most recent blasphemy sentences have been death or rigorous imprisonment for life. A single accusation is sufficient to serve as “evidence” for an arrest. Despite their widespread misuse and abuse, Pakistan’s blasphemy laws enjoy widespread support in Pakistan and have emboldened violent mobs to commit extrajudicial killings. Between 1987-2022, 1,865 individuals were charged under blasphemy laws in Pakistan while 129 individuals were killed by extrajudicial mob justice for blasphemy. Last summer, an incensed mob burned several churches and looted homes of Christians after two Christian men were falsely accused of blasphemy.

HAF continues to be concerned about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, mob violence in Pakistan and many other innocent prisoners of conscience languish in Pakistani prisons due to false blasphemy accusations. 

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