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Lawyers boycott Pakistan courts over slaying of attorney who stayed on case despite death threats

Posted May 9, 2014 3:15 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Lawyers throughout Pakistan boycotted the nation's courts Friday to protest the slaying earlier this week of a human rights attorney who continued to represent an academic in a controversial blasphemy case despite death threats reportedly made in open court last month.

Muhammad Ramzan Chaudhry, who serves as vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council, asked lawyers throughout the country to go on strike Friday over the death of Rashid Rehman, who was fatally shot Wednesday evening in his law office in Multan. Chaudhry also demanded that the government bring Rehman's killers to justice, according to the Pakistan Observer and Pakistan Today.

Earlier news reports said the gunmen did not wear masks.

Although police said a case has been filed against two unidentified suspects, a number of lawyers are concerned that attorneys are at risk of violence from religious extremists and that law enforcement authorities are not dealing with such threats, according to the Express Tribune.

“This is only a symptom of a deeper malaise,” said Asma Jahangir, a well-known lawyer who attended Rehman's funeral, reports the Independent.

“It is becoming more and more difficult for people who have liberal views to stay alive in this country," Jahangir continued. "And the state sits by like a spectator.”

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