Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
World: South Asia
Call to outlaw death fatwas
Death fatwas - an abuse of religion, say campaigners
Pakistan's leading human rights organisation has called for a ban on death fatwas, saying that incitement to violence should be against the law.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says the excessive use of fatwas - or religious edicts - is a violation of Pakistani law, an encroachment on the powers of the courts, and a misuse of religion.
Fatwas are religious decrees issued by recognised Islamic scholars or other authorised Muslim leaders.
The commission is especially concerned about fatwas which call for people to be put to death.
One called for the death of anyone opposed to the enforcement of Islamic sharia law in the country.
Another demanded the death of a journalist in Peshawar who wrote an article cataloguing alleged sexual abuse of children in some Islamic schools.
A third was issued against members of parliament who have urged Pakistan to sign the nuclear test ban treaty.
Diplomatic ties between Iran and the UK were upgraded last month after the Iranian government distanced itself from the death edict issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Fatwas cover wide variety of situations
In April religious authorities in Algeria put out a fatwa permitting women who had been raped in the country's civil war to have abortions.
And last year the Mufti of Egypt reportedly issued a fatwa warning people against organising or attending bullfights. The edict said eating meat from bulls killed at a fight was also contrary to Islam.