Few facts and questions about anti-Blasphemy law

Among countries with a Muslim-majority, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. Last Friday people from different religio-political groups were protesting against intention of National Assembly to amend that clause of constitution which can hang anyone convicted of blasphemy against last prophet. Since 1956 when Pakistan became “Islāmic” Republic, politicians

Photo by writer

have used religion for the sake of their policies and today Islam has become a political party or brand more than a religion. Apart from debate whether amendment in law is necessary or not, I have few facts and questions for those who think laws are sacred and misuse is myth.

There is no doubt that we respect and admire personality and image of Islam’s last prophet Muhammad and it is highly offensive for Muslims if anyone compromise image of Holy Prophet (Article of PPC 295-C forbids defaming Muhammad) but at the same time a question arise in my mind about supremacy of God. Our (Pakistani) law can hang anyone for blasphemy against last prophet, does it condemn and punish blasphemy against God?

By Article 33, it is the country’s duty to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian, and provincial prejudices among the citizens. But it has no discouragement for religious discrimination and prejudice against minorities.

The only law which has become controversial for its over use to victimize is PPC 153 A:

(a), whoever “by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or incites, or attempts to promote or incite, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities” shall be fined and punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to five years.

“Pakistani authorities charged 1274 people with offenses under the blasphemy laws since 1986 till 2010. Sixty percent of the people charged were non-Muslim. Most of those charged were murdered soon after the charge was laid.” The Washington Post

According to Minorities Concern of Pakistan, Aasia Noreen, is the 38th woman who has been charged under the blasphemy laws in the country. And  Jamaat-e-Islami-affiliated cleric on Friday offered Rs 500,000 reward for anyone who kills Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy. Wikipedia

“I will give Rs 500,000 to a person who killed Aasia,” the prayer leader of the historic Masjid Mohabbat Khan

The cleric also appealed to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to kill Aasia. He asked the group to carry out the killing instead of bombing other places. “To kill the woman is a service to the religion in a real,” Daily Times Pakistan

In July 2010, a trader in Faisalabad complained that one of his employees had been handed a pamphlet which contained disrespectful remarks about Muhammad. According to the police, the pamphlet appeared to have the signatures and addresses of Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother Sajid, who were Christians. While the police were escorting the brothers from a district court, gunmen shot and killed both. BBC news

Allama Ahmed Mian Hammadi, a Pakistani Muslim cleric, has claimed that Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Minorities has himself committed blasphemy by branding the recently murdered Christian brothers as victims of Pakistan blasphemy laws. Daily Jasarat

On 4 August 2009, a Muslim mob attacked a factory-owner by the name of Najeebullah and others at Sheikhupura in the Punjab. The mob killed Najeebullah and two others, and set fire to the factory. The mob complained that Najeebullah had placed an outdated calendar, which contained verses from the Quran, on a table. For that offense, a worker accused Najeebullah of blasphemy. Daily Times

On 30 July 2009, hundreds of members of Sipah-e-Sahaba, a banned Muslim organization, torched Christian homes and killed Christians in the Punjabi city of Gojra and in the nearby village of Korian. The proferred reason for the violence was that a Christian had defiled a Quran. BBC News

Arshed Masih, 38, is still fighting for his life in Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, a city not far from Pakistan’s capital. With the help of police, Muslim extremists last Friday set him on fire for refusing to convert to Islam and raped his wife. (Source: Asia News)

The incident occurred in front of a local police station. In 2005, Masih and his wife began working for a wealthy Muslim businessman, he as driver and she as his wife’s maid. Recently, the two fell out of favour with their employer and his family because they insisted on remaining Christian. During the incident, Masih’s wife, Martha, “was raped by police agents”. The couple’s three children, were forced to watch their parents being brutalised. No action taken by the Government.

In August 2003, the police arrested a Christian, Samuel Masih, for allegedly defiling a mosque by spitting on its wall. While in prison, Masih contracted tuberculosis. The authorities transported him to a hospital. There, on 24 May 2004, a police constable used a hammer to kill Masih. The constable said it was his duty as a Muslim to kill Masih.  He told police, “I wanted to earn a place in heaven.” Strategic Network

There aren’t two opinions about respect and protection of reputation of holy personalities but we should support any possible law making or review to amend  law to ensure its safe and legal use. Misuse of blasphemy law had already murdered many citizens in past and our country shouldn’t  allow this anymore.

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One thought on “Few facts and questions about anti-Blasphemy law

  1. Reading this article of yours, indicates some prescience of the death of the Governor of Punjab yesterday. It made front-page headlines in all of India’s newspapers. The worry is, this kind of fanatic act witnessed yesterday, does it portray a mindset that is endemic in Pakistan ?
    Pakistan has to quickly get its act together, for its own sake as well as that of its neighbours like India. We should all be concentrating on developmental issues like education, environment protection, health care and so on, as priorities.
    By the way, I really liked the picture that you had put up on this blog-post. So much of peace reflected in that one snap !

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