Christians are being persecuted across the world and the ones in the Italian city of Rome are protesting the trend.

On Saturday, Rome’s ancient Colosseum was lit in red in solidarity with the persecuted Christians, particularly Asia Bibi, a woman condemned to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Hundreds gathered on a rainy night outside the Roman amphitheatre that is a symbol of the martyrdom of early Christians to hear the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi.

The Catholic woman has been living on death row in Pakistan since 2010, when she was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.

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Human rights groups such as Amnesty International say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

“The aim of the blasphemy laws is to crush people who believe differently,” Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference, told the gathering.

The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence. There are no penalties for false accusations.

Asia Bibi’s case drew international attention after the murder of two politicians who tried to intervene on her behalf.

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