Two Editorials: The Blasphemy Law is Blasphemy

Posted on September 18, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Minorities, Religion, Society
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Adil Najam

Pakistan’s blasphemy law, as written and used, is a blot on the basic principles of justice, on Pakistan, and even on Islam, the religion in whose name its defenders so often abuse it.

The recent death-in-custody of a Pakistani citizen, Robert Fanish Masih, has once again challenged all notions of human decency and demands our attention, our indignation, and indeed our anger. It reminds us – yet again, and as if more reminder was needed – of the inhumanity of the situation that this law places us in. A bold call has come from the Punjab Governor to repeal the law. It is well past time to do so. But there are others, including our Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, who continue to waver with excuses. But this is only one more incident in what has become a nearly routinized parade of inhumanity in the name of blasphemy laws.

Incidences of violence and abuse in the name of blasphemy have increased perceptibly. So must the indignation in society and so must the calls by all honorable people for its repeal. Two editorials today, in the Daily Times and in Dawn, make exactly that point. And they are exactly right.

Here is the editorial from the Daily Times. It is worth reading in full, and especially the last paragraph.

In the aftermath of the death-in-custody of the blasphemy-accused Fanish Masih in Sialkot, the Governor of Punjab, Mr Salmaan Taseer, has courageously called for the repeal of the infamous law targeting the minorities in general and the Christian community in particular. He was echoing the demand being made by protesters in Lahore reacting to the cruel thrashing Christian protesters were given by the police in Sialkot.

Fanish Masih was found dead in his cell. The police say he committed suicide, but the question for all of us to consider is that Masih was kept in solitary confinement even after the police knew prima facie that the charge against him was concocted. Also, there was confusion all around springing from a conflation of blasphemy with desecration of the Holy Quran. Masih himself must have been sure that he was in a trap where his death was certain.

The sheer negative jurisprudence of the Blasphemy Law shocks the rational person and instils despair in the accused. Yet, the Pakistani mind is divided over details that are accepted by all as shameful to the pride of the nation, equating Pakistanis with backward Nigeria where blasphemy laws have killed hundreds so far, tragically, in imitation of Pakistan. The irrationality of the public attitude came to the fore when the federal minister for religious affairs, Allama Hamid Kazmi, was asked to react to Governor Taseer’s call for the repeal of the law.

Mr Kazmi was grieved by the Sialkot violence against unprotected Christians but was determined to defend the Blasphemy Law. His case was of a piece with the one made by the conservative Urdu press and the clergy. He assumed that blasphemy occurred in Pakistan and that no Muslim could collude with it by removing the deterrence of law. But the facts were ignored by him. The truth is that there is no blasphemy proved in Pakistan so far, except in the lower courts where mobs carrying weapons force the judge to hand down death.

Any society free of extremism would grasp this fact. Why should a law be enforced in a society where no one can actually blaspheme? And what does it mean that after the promulgation of the law, blasphemy actually raises its ugly head? Hundreds of cases have gone up from the grassroots courts to the higher judiciary where the accused has been let off, except for cases such as the one regarding a woman of unsettled mind who is being recommended for mental asylum after a lifetime in jail.

In May this year, 500 clerics stormed a court in Lahore’s Mustafabad when a judge bailed out Munir Masih and his wife for keeping a Holy Quran in their home. The victims insisted they had kept it for spiritual protection and out of devotion; but the accusation was that they were unclean as a community and therefore the Holy Quran was defiled. Later the charge was changed from desecration to blasphemy, after which the court was assaulted.

In April this year, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal against a Federal Shariat Court ruling that death is the only punishment under Islamic law for blasphemy. This is what the victim knows when he is framed and put in solitary confinement in jail: he is going to die either sentenced by a scared sessions judge or killed by the police during the remand.

The Council for Islamic Ideology recommended in 2006 that blasphemy cases be registered with the High Court and that high officials free of local blackmail be appointed as investigators, but nothing has happened. Both the mainstream parties want the law repealed. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in his memoir complains that Nawaz Sharif as prime minister wanted to change the Blasphemy Law but Ms. Bhutto did not help him in parliament. Later Ms Bhutto returned to power in 1993 and wanted to change the law but this time Nawaz Sharif did not help.

The PPP and the PMLN are busy fighting their other less worthy battles in parliament, but if they had the wellbeing of the country at heart they could have joined hands to repeal the Blasphemy Law and then faced up to the extremist backlash just as the country is finally confronting the terrorism of the Taliban. There is no other way to tell the killers of our Christian community that they have to stop this horrible pastime.

The Dawn editorial picks up exactly the point made in the last paragraph above and asks why no one is looking at the real issues that we face – frankly, that includes the media (which is preoccupied with Meera’s marital status, Gen. Musharraf’s trails, Zardaris escapades, and the cat and mouse games of the political parties) and political pundits (who can always pontificate on global political conspiracies and grand geopolitical strategy but choose to remain silent on our own inhumanity to our own citizens.

Dawn’s editorial, too, is worth reading in full. And thinking about:

PEOPLE are dying queuing for grain in Pakistan. This is a country where food inflation is forcing parents to pull their children out of school – they can eat sparsely or be educated, not both. Lives are being lost to ailments that are easily curable. Street crime is rampant across a country where human life is worth less than a cellphone. Yet our political leaders appear oblivious to the misery that is everywhere. They seem to have no perspective, no grip on reality. Does a man who can’t feed his children really care whether or not Pervez Musharraf is tried for treason? Is a mother whose child has died of gastroenteritis likely to give much thought to America’s military presence in the region? Will a jobless person be impressed by the president’s much-touted ‘achievements’ during his first year in office? Our leaders have clearly lost sight of the core issues.

This is a country where religious minorities are targeted by Muslim mobs while the law-enforcers look on. Deadly attacks against Christians, in particular, are on the rise in Punjab. As is usually the case in such incidents, the violence has been triggered by unproven allegations of blasphemy. Robert Fanish Masih, who had been arrested last Saturday on blasphemy charges after Muslims went on the rampage in village Jaithikey near Sialkot, was found dead in his cell on Tuesday. The next day his family and community members, who had all been forced to flee Jaithikey, were prevented from burying him in their native village. And this heartless, inhumane act wasn’t the work of Muslim vigilantes alone. The local police also told the mourners to turn back, on the grounds that their presence could fan violence. In short the victims were punished, not the aggressors.

The Punjab government needs to take urgent steps to protect minorities in the province for the situation there is deteriorating. Its stance on minority rights will be gauged by its response. The centre, meanwhile, should start working towards the repeal of the blasphemy laws. For too long they have been used to settle personal scores, grab land – and to kill. These draconian laws must be struck off the books.

One does not have much confidence that our own words, or the words of these editorials, will make much of a difference. But following Faiz Ahmed Faiz, speak we must. Even if that is all we do. It is true that words alone can never bring change. But all change, always starts with words.

72 Comments on “Two Editorials: The Blasphemy Law is Blasphemy”

  1. Haroon says:
    September 18th, 2009 12:34 am

    Yes, the blasphemy law should certainly be cancelled but I really do not think that the politicians will ever have the guts to do this.

  2. Afshaan says:
    September 18th, 2009 12:39 am

    It is good to see the newspapers highlighting this issue now. The pressure has to build up and I hope all who are silent will speak up and put pressure on government to do this.

    Was interesting to read that both PPP and PML had wanted to repeal this. I hope they will now do so.

  3. Dr. Nerdy says:
    September 18th, 2009 12:58 am

    is it the law that is the problem, or the irrational attitude of mullahs/religious zealots?

    let’s just suppose that the law is repealed. do you really think that it will stop the mullah-mobs from killing someone who has allegedly committed a blasphemy?

  4. Kazim Fareed says:
    September 18th, 2009 1:10 am

    The repeal of the law has to be the first step. As the editorial points out the law gives the fundos the reason to do the violence. Without it they can be more easily exposed as what they are: CRIMINALS.

  5. walking_by says:
    September 18th, 2009 2:05 am

    @Dr. Nerdy: There should NOT be an unjust law on the State books irrespective of how criminal elements will act. If a marauding mob kills someone then treat it as what it is – a crime, rather than give them an official statute to hide behind.

  6. Kashifiat says:
    September 18th, 2009 2:42 am

    Why blasphemy law should be cancel?

    Due to misuse ?

    Then whole constitution should be repel. Each & every law has been misuded by Chaudries, waderas, maliks & so called educated industrialist elite. There is no discrimination.

    Can anyone tell me any single law that was not misused in Pakistan?

    Will after repletion of blasphemy law the “minorities” will save ?

    No Sir ! Certainly not. They will face more hostile attitude.

    It is fashion to blame Mullah for every thing but the fact is that in Pakistan Mullah were never be in Power.

    Who was Mullah, Liaquat Ali Khan shaeed, Iskinder Mirza, Khan Mohamamd, Ayub Khan,Bhutto , Yahya. ???

    There one only religious minded person but he was also not Mullah Late Gen Zia ul Haq.

    The problem is not with blasphemy law , the problem is its usage, Area of opportunity lies every where, we can improve it butt only repeltion is not the solution.

    Every body knows that Daily Time & Dawn are carrying pro liberal agenda. Quoting just one side is not Insaf .

    My question is that why English press is silent on presence of Blackwater or Xe in Pakistan ??

  7. Momin says:
    September 18th, 2009 2:54 am

    Let us not throw the baby away with the bath water!

    It is the implementation of blasphemy law that is faulty. The law itself is sound and in accordance with Islamic tradition.

  8. Atif says:
    September 18th, 2009 3:31 am

    This insane law must be repealed if Pakistan is to move towards a progressive future.

    Those who think such laws represent an “Islamic tradition” should consider the following: (1) The prophet was ridiculed in all possible manners, a woman regularly threw garbage in his path, intestines of dead animals were thrown on his back as he prayed, … the list goes on. Never once did he retaliate or ask others to take revenge on his personal behalf. THIS is why the Prophet’s character attracted so many to him.

  9. Junaid says:
    September 18th, 2009 7:24 am

    @Dr Nerdy

    I fully agree with you hundred percent. Repealing the law is a good thing but some thing needs to be done about the fanatic mullahs.

  10. Sada says:
    September 18th, 2009 7:43 am

    I wonder about one thing. There is no disagreement that the most abused law in Pakistan is Police Ordinance and everyday police abuse human rights and fundamental rights using several provisions of this law. But no one stands up and say that this law should be repealed. This is clearly a hate against Shariah based legal norms when people start campaign against this law. The issue is not the existing law. Adil and others, just let us know should there be any law regulating an abusing conduct towards any prophet? If you think no then we should first talk about legal system and its structural issues rather than a specific provision.

  11. Mohammad Ali says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:22 am

    Maybe if you want a fair blasphemy law then it shoudl make punishable ANYONE abusing ANY religion.

    Who do you think will be lynched first, then?

  12. Pakistani Christian says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:28 am

    I think the most important line in the post is not the forceful editorial but teh last line about teh importance of speaking. The criminals who do the killing can do so because we are all silent because we are afraid of the fascists and their personal attacks and how the fascists will attack you and your family and everyone around you personally. Even good people become silent because they are afraid of the gandi tactics of the fascists and when good people become silent they become bad people!

    Thank you for the courageous post.

    But I am not surprised and the meed fear and silence of most readers!

  13. Anwar says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:32 am

    Britain has blasphemy laws but has never been put to use to persecute citizen… such laws are on books in many countries.

    Problem may not be with the law but who applies it and the outlaws who takes law into their own hand.

    Death of this young fellow is a sad event. I personally do not think any of the old relics are worth dying for.

  14. AA says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:39 am

    The law is in place for long time and it is a rotten law. The important thing is that it is only during the current time of extremism that people have started using and abusing it (more so than ever). It may be a repercussion of their frustrations with the so-called Western elements allegedly infringing upon their religion and culture, but whatever it is, the bad law is in place and it should go!

    Kudos to all those who are speaking for the elimination of it.

  15. Roshan says:
    September 18th, 2009 11:58 am

    Blasphemy law is not only a blot on our society but its also a tool of power imbalance among the religions in general. Pakistani society in general has drifted right to the center due to the course taken by Gen Zia and his successors.
    Be it Gojra tragedy or Sialkot mayhem to our christian brothers, Punjab government response is partial and is not showing its political will to protect minorities. They are afraid of loosing their political constituency by taking action against the perpetrators. Here political scoring is more important than the norms of social justice.
    Adil you don’t need to complain about media’s role we find several leading anchor persons protecting and propagating talibanization at prime time. How do you expect those anchors to raise voices for marginalized minorities?
    Please do read the article by on BBC Urdu by Ali Salman and his elaboration of two qaris is very important. It shows how are approach is religion is divided within a community. http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2009/09/090917_fanish_profile_rh.shtml

  16. chalbahi says:
    September 18th, 2009 12:08 pm

    I would suggest everyone to read the Quran:

    “When ye hear the signs of Allah held in defiance and ridicule, ye are not to sit with them unless they turn to a different theme.”

    “And when they hear vain talk, they turn away therefrom and say: “to us our deeds and to you yours; peace be to you.”" [Qur'an 28: 55]

    “Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.” [Qur'an 7:199]

    “Have patience with what they say, and leaves them with noble (dignity).” [Qur'an 73:10]

    “And the servants of Allah … are those who walked on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say ‘Peace’” [Qur'an 25:63]

    “Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” [Qur'an 16: 128]

    “But they uttered blasphemy … if they repent, it will be best for them, but if they turn back, Allah will punish them.” [Qur'an 9:47]

    Also, a very nice article. Suggest you read the islamic aspect even if you don’t agree with the political agenda.

    http://muslim-canada.org/HamdardBlasphemy.html

    -

  17. Adnan says:
    September 18th, 2009 12:09 pm

    Amazing how the same people will complain about the ‘bad’ treatment to Muslims in non-Muslim countries and then treat non-Muslims in such human ways in their own.

    Hypocricy, thy name is mullah.

  18. MQ says:
    September 18th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Laws are made by a society to protect its citizens against any harm or mischief or to enhance their quality of life. This particular law, on the contrary, has caused so many extra-legal deaths of innocent citizens at the hand of mobs and caused untold misery to so many that one wonders why it still remains on the statute books.

    I am not sure if this law will ever be repealed in Pakistan, but I am sure that as long as this law and similar other laws (Hudood etc.) remain on the statute books, Pakistan can never become a developed state.

  19. Adnan Ahmad says:
    September 18th, 2009 3:19 pm

    The underlying theme in each of the atrocity committed under this law is that someone settles scores with the victim by accusing him of blasphemy (e.g. he burned the holy book, threw it on the ground, said blasphemous words etc.) then a mob appears and basically finishes the victim in broad daylight. If the mob is unable to do the job, police, like in the recent case in Sialkot, makes sure that it is done. Khas kum jahan paak. I first read about one such incident in 1994 in the monthly Herald I believe or may be in Friday Times where the victim who actually was considered to be a better scholar than the local maulvi who wanted to topple him was in the end killed by a hammer. The maulvi accused that he had burned the holy book. PPP can continue to use the sound bite “Zia ki baaqiaat” and PML N can continue talking about the reforms but they will be ducking their real responsibilities until or unless they cure this cancer and others like it from our society and get rid of this law no matter how much opposition they get from their MNAs. Remember the Bishop in Faisalabad who walked in daylight and shot himself in protest. How conveniently he has been forgotten.

  20. September 18th, 2009 3:20 pm

    @Nerdy: few yeaars back , the secular dictator repealed the Hudood Ordinance by saying that it makes women lives hell. The same dictator then sold out Aafia Siddiqui to USoA for sake of few dollars. The same dictator made “remarkable” comments which no “Mullah” ever made, that Pakistani women want to get raped to earn foreign visas.

    Poor Kashifiat don’t realise that the problem is not the law but the religion which has been giving sleepless nights to many in other part of the world.

  21. man says:
    September 18th, 2009 3:47 pm

    Mohammad Ali says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:22 am

    “Maybe if you want a fair blasphemy law then it shoudl make punishable ANYONE abusing ANY religion. ”

    I agree.

    i thank you for this courageous comment.

  22. Umar Shah says:
    September 18th, 2009 4:04 pm

    Yeh zehr Zia ka tuhfa hai jisay nikalnay kay liyay mazhab say ziyada muzboot sahara chahyay.

  23. sheepoo says:
    September 18th, 2009 4:07 pm

    As Iqbal already told us:
    Deen i Mullah, fee sabilillah fasaad
    The way of Mullah, nothing but mischief

    Its high time that we repeal these un-Islamic laws imposed from the top and start working and the ground level to fix our social evils.

    Just my 2 cents!

  24. Kashifiat says:
    September 18th, 2009 8:01 pm
  25. Kashif says:
    September 18th, 2009 10:35 pm

    It’s a “Sazish” against Islam. So that minorities will behave similiar like in India. It’s also because of lack of knowledge and illiteracy.

  26. ASAD says:
    September 19th, 2009 12:20 am

    This editorial in today’s THE NEWS is even more disturbing than the ones above:

    The parents of a young Hindu nurse, who disappeared over a month ago after leaving her Karachi home for the welfare hospital where she worked, continue their search for the daughter. So far their efforts have proved futile. They are not alone. The Sindh Assembly was told in its last session that during the last four months of the current year, 30 to 35 members of minority communities – most of them Hindu – had been kidnapped; eighteen girls had converted to Islam and one was killed. The fate of the others is presumably unknown.

    The pattern is one that has accelerated sharply in recent years. Christians in Punjab have made similar complaints centred around the issue of young girls, some mere teenagers, who have been forced to convert and marry Muslim men. The details compiled by rights groups indicate that the life of such women is often grim. Some have tried to escape, others have been murdered. This is one part of the growing violence against minorities that we are seeing. The matter needs to be paid urgent attention to. No society so deeply fractured by sectarian divide can blossom. Pakistan must prove it is a state capable of offering a safe place to live for all its citizens. This, after all, is the vision that was laid out by the founder of the nation. It is our duty, as citizens, to ensure that it is turned into reality.

  27. Momin says:
    September 19th, 2009 1:23 am

    “Amazing how the same people will complain about the ‘bad’ treatment to Muslims in non-Muslim countries and then treat non-Muslims in such human ways in their own.”

    Enough of this liberal crap.

    No one is saying that non muslims should be ill treated. However, accomodating non muslims does not mean that they can be given rights to abuse our beloved Prophet (PBUH). Anyone bringing disrespect to the Prophet (PBUH) deserves death sentence. Period. No compromise on this. If law does not award death penalty to such gustaakh fellows, then people will.

    However, if someone is misusing the provision to harass innocent non muslims, then he should be severely punished according to sharia law.

    ============

    “Maybe if you want a fair blasphemy law then it should make punishable ANYONE abusing ANY religion. ”

    What is unfair about Muslims making laws in their country as per their beliefs? You can blame them for being unfair if they demanded that others should also make their laws as per islamic beliefs. But AFAIK they are demanding no such thing. So what is unfair?

    In an islamic country, islam’s pre-eminent position cannot be negotiable. Haq and baatil are not the same.

    ===========

    @ASAD:

    “The parents of a young Hindu nurse, who disappeared over a month ago after leaving her Karachi home for the welfare hospital where she worked, continue their search for the daughter. ”

    Thousands of muslim women were tortured, raped and killed in Gujarat and thousands are being butchered in Kashmir right at this moment. Would you spare a thought for them also?

  28. ASAD says:
    September 19th, 2009 1:57 am

    Mr. Momin, maybe you did not read the report or it was not clear. The report is NOT about Gujrat or Kashmir. It is about PAKISTAN and what is happening to Pakistanis. Does not matter whether Pakistanis are Hindus or Christians or Muslims, they are Pakistanis and anyone murdering Pakistanis is Pakistan’s – and my – enemy. If they do so in the name of my religion, then they are also Islam’s enemy.

    If you want to stand with Pakistan’s enemies – that is what these murderers killing any Pakistani is – then that is your choice. My concern is what happens to Pakistanis in Pakistan.

  29. Omar Syed says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:11 am

    Thank you so much for writing this and the courage that this site has always shown.

    I know that the fascists will attack you and your family with vile personal attacks but as Muslims we all must stand for and speak the truth.

    I cannot believe that any true Muslim can support what is happening with this law or support this evil law. I really think the real enemies of Islam are the ones who use these laws to commit crimes and murders in the name of religion. They are destroying our true religion and they must be rooted out.

  30. Anonymous says:
    September 19th, 2009 3:13 am
  31. Manto says:
    September 19th, 2009 3:42 am

    Momin,

    “no compromise on this”…umm that they problem with you people. sorry but if the people through parliament decide that they want to get rid of this law than it gets changed. Obviously this is very difficult to get done and people like you will make it only harder for shamefully misplaced religious zeal. But you don’t get to say “no compromise” to anything – you idiots think they have veto rights over everything that happens in our country.

  32. Kashifiat says:
    September 19th, 2009 6:22 am

    Manto

    There is no need of “get rid of that law”. Law is fine. Area of opportunity lies every where ,here also one can see.

    But we should understand that problem is not with law, basically we need to get rid of Police Code first – angrez bahadur kee yargar.

    Here, I will also request to kindly get rid of that foolish practice where every person which is disagreeing with u is “Enemy” we need to show tolerance.

    Difference of opinion doesn’t mean we are calling others enemy of country.

    All Minorities, Hindues, Christians, Sikhs, Parsies & Ahmadies / Qadianies are respectable citizen of this country. They must enjoy all thier rights.

    But on the name of so called “Human Rights” we can’t allow anyone to insult our believes.

  33. Unaiza Fatima says:
    September 19th, 2009 9:24 am

    No wait. When a pakistani dies in US custody, no one finds it appropriate to challenge the law or the system itself. The problem is not the law but the misuse and wrong implementation of law, whether it be in Pakistan or US or anywhere else.
    Even if the blasphemy law is repealed, it will simply flare up violence. Violence and lawlessness should be curbed, not the law itself.

  34. Manto says:
    September 19th, 2009 10:12 am

    @Unaiza,

    Actually throughout history laws in the US have been changed after people concluded they were harmful (think segregation, civil rights etc etc). This system is not perfect and does not mean all the laws are perfect at a given point in time. But functioning societies change laws that are harmful all the time.

    why do we need a blasphemy law at all? do we have an epidemic of blasphemy in the country? of course not. Do we think people will rush out and start blaspheming if there were no law? highly unlikely.

    even if you believe these scenarios to be what would happen (though I don’t see how), the law needs to be rewritten in its entirety b/c as far as I can tell all it is doing is leading to unconscionable violence against innocent people.

  35. Pervez says:
    September 19th, 2009 11:34 am

    Kashfiat, glad to see your civil tone in comment. Somehow our religious hazraat just feel compelled to be also bad tameez, so it is good to hear civility. I would agree with most of what you say, but on this line:

    “But on the name of so called “Human Rights” we can’t allow anyone to insult our believes.”

    On this line, I wonder if by that logic you would also agree that “in the name of so called “religion” we can’t allow anyone to insult other religion’s beliefs or other people’s human rights”?

    If I do not want my religion to be abused I hope you agree the first step is never to abuse anyone else’s religion?

  36. September 19th, 2009 11:58 am

    I endorse the ATP campaign for repeal of these draconian laws.I also support(for once) the sane voice of Governor Punjab Mr Salman Taseer.

    These laws cannot be accepted in any ‘Civilized’ society.
    ATP team has always acted in the best interest of Pakistan and all the Pakistani citizens irrespective of their religion and background.

    God Bless

  37. Unaiza Fatima says:
    September 19th, 2009 1:15 pm

    Mr. Manto

    This is not the answer to my question.
    The named person died in jail. The blasphemy law did not kill him. Many people die in jail. This does not mean that the law for which they were detained need to be changed. For example a man is detained for murder and dies in jail. Does that mean that the law that demands detention of the murderer is responsible for his death or the person responsible for his safety in detention?
    A pakistani man, Amir Cheema died in prison in Berlin in 2006 allegedly by “suicide”? Did it bring about any change in any of the laws or raised any concern about any law? No
    Mr. Manto, your sympathy should be for Christians and non-Christians equally. Both were Pakistanis.

    Bradistan calling:
    Leave the argument and review of the “draconian” law to the elected parliament. If the majority approves it, it SHOULD remain in place, if majority rejects it, it SHOULD be withdrawn. This is democracy which we all long for. There is no question of sane or insane voice where democracy holds.

  38. Unaiza Fatima says:
    September 19th, 2009 1:29 pm

    Though I would add, that when this issue is so sensitive, why would anyone ever dare to do blasphemy? It is quite impractical to implement punishment. Plus these mullahs are doing blasphemy day and night by writing Quranic verses and pasting posters with verses on dirty walls. Who would dare to question them? no one

  39. September 19th, 2009 1:34 pm

    Bravo, Adil!

  40. Ben castle says:
    September 19th, 2009 1:51 pm

    Blasphemy laws are not needed at all.
    I dont understand why we have to police wht ppl say for divine figures. If its blasphemy its between that person and god. why do we need laws as if blasphemy is directed agianst us and not allah. why so personal
    and i want to ask all the people who are still supporting these laws that have they lost their minds.
    so when in Taif ppl threw stones at prophet and god asked him wht to do with ppl of taif, wht did he say?
    when the old woman used to throw garbage at him e morning, and when one day she was sick? what did prophet do?
    he went and inquired about her health.

    so why we have blasphemy laws then when prophet himself forgave
    all these ppl who are supporting blasphemy laws are blasphemous themselves. they dnt understand the true spirit of islam, and they are BIG hypocrites. shame on ppl who support blasphemy laws.
    if we dont change oursleves we will perish soon

  41. Kashifiat says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:16 pm

    Why we should not need “Blasphemy law” ?

    Do we allow every TOM & HARRY to poke his/her nose in our believes like Denmark & Norway, where we have seen what have happened in the name of Rights of expression.

    We have seen that there are hundred of blind followers of Western values exist here in Pakistan. They can do any thing & in past they did. e.g. riots of 1953

    Our faith should be protected by some laws. We also well aware with the fact that to get the foreign aid a faction from specific minority intentially do this. In the result we observe unhappy incidents like Gojra which can’t be supported & appreciated by any mean.

    We should also aware that in subcontinent thers is a religion which want to count as Muslim, so the conditions are much sensitive in our part of region.

    Pakistan must need Blasphemy laws which help in discrimation between Muslim believes & non Muslim concepts.

  42. Umar Shah says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:17 pm

    Quite disturbing to see level of comments on Pakistaniat going down exponentially. Death should be awarded to someone who has killed or scarred someone for life not for someone who has allegedly done or said something we dont like. All those condoning this law which usurps the rights of minorities -who the majority is supposed to protect should do some soul searching. All those justifying the death of minorities in Pakistan by giving examples of treatment of muslims in non-muslim countries are also not making sense. If Muslims are killled in Gujrat, does this mean killing a Christian or Hindu and Pakistan is justified? My god what have we become? Nothing should come before life.

  43. Unaiza Fatima says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:18 pm

    The biggest blasphemers are mullahs themselves who violate Islam in the name of Islam, who behead and bomb innocents and support these acts too, who write Quranic verses and posters on dirty walls, and implement laws in the name of Islam which are nowhere mentioned in Quran or Sunnah.

  44. Obaid says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:42 pm

    “We have seen that there are hundred of blind followers of Western values exist here in Pakistan. They can do any thing & in past they did. e.g. riots of 1953 ”

    What do you mean? These riots were instigated by Mullahs notably Ihrar, who were staunch opponents of Pakistan movement btw, for political gains and this is well documented.

  45. Obaid says:
    September 19th, 2009 2:45 pm

    PS: Not to mention Maududi who was given death sentence for his part in the riots. Maududi as we are aware considered Pakistan, Na-Pakistan.

  46. Ben castle says:
    September 19th, 2009 3:00 pm

    @ kashifiat
    “Do we allow every TOM & HARRY to poke his/her nose in our believes like Denmark & Norway, where we have seen what have happened in the name of Rights of expression.”

    i think its impossible to argue with ppl like u. because concepts of tolerance and freedom of speech are way too much for ppl like u to handle.
    i want to understand how someone saying blasmphemous endangers your faith. this is wht ppl like u dont understand. your faith and your accountability does not get endangered by wht anyone else is saying.
    yes wht gets endangerd is yr EGO. actually ppl like u need courage to accept these blasphemey lawa are to protect yr EGO, cause how by burning other ppl u r serving god? i dont know which god and muhammad u believe. cz i see no direction in quran or no saying by muhammad which says kill ppl who say smthng demeaning abt me

    shame on ppl like u, u ppl r the reason pakistan is where it is today. damn this mentality. i am disgusted and horrified at how backward and uncivilized u ppl are

  47. Adil says:
    September 19th, 2009 4:36 pm

    Just because our corrupt police and other govt. authorities can’t function properly does not mean that we start repealing the laws.

  48. ShahidnUSA says:
    September 19th, 2009 5:52 pm

    Its the mans “ego” and “insecurities” that is killing the country.
    Its shows even in moon sighting.There is no pride in stupidity.
    I would be all over but its all interconnected.

    “Hijab” is never a woman thing but she does it for the insecure man.Imagine if it was the other way arround.

    People in the mountains are the simple people.They were not born as terrorist. They were hardly given any good education. But when they started going to Saudi Arabia for jobs, offcourse they were vulnerable , overwhelmed and impressed by beautiful lights and huge buildings. Any nuttjob with some money, angry at America can manipulate their impressionable and raw minds.

    God “never” punish people. Its the man who do irresponsible things and get in trouble.

  49. Natasha says:
    September 19th, 2009 6:21 pm

    *hangs head in shame*

    We are probably the most intolerant nation in the world.

  50. Benawa says:
    September 19th, 2009 9:09 pm

    Blasphemy law has no place in M. A. Jinnah’s Pakistan.
    Besides, it is a legacy of Zia who was mainly responsible for
    most of our current problems with the armed, ignorant, and lethal extremists. It ought to be tossed right away.

    The question is, who can actually do it? Who is going to bell the cat? We need a REAL statesman.

    p.s. To Natasha: you probably did not notice that pogroms
    have happened against all minorities in the so-called “secular”India, and have you never heard the rants of the right wing American radio stations against a certain religion? Trust me, our watan doesn’t have a corner on bigotry. There is plenty of competition out there.
    However, nobody can beat Pakistanis in self-flagellation!

  51. Obaid says:
    September 20th, 2009 2:10 am

    Kudos to Governor Salman Tasir for making a sensible statement;

    اللہ اور اسکے رسولﷺکی ذات کے بارے کوئی غلط بات برداشت نہیں کرسکتا‘گورنر سلمان تاثیر ،توہین رسالت کے قانون میں بعض شقوں کا خاتمہ ناگزیر ہے‘ سینئر صحافیوں کے اعزاز میں دیئے گئے افطار ڈنر کے موقع پر گفتگو:
    لاہور(اُردو پوائنٹ اخبار تازہ ترین۔19ستمبر۔2009ء)گورنر پنجاب سلمان تاثیر نے کہا ہے اسلام امن محبت اور رواداری کا درس دیتا ہے ‘ شدت پسندی کا اسلام سے کوئی تعلق نہیں ہے ‘ اقلیتوں کا تحفظ کرنا ہمارا اخلاقی‘ دینی اور قومی فریضہ ہے‘ توہین رسالت کے قانون میں سے ایسی شقیں دور کر دینی چاہئیں جن سے معصوم انسانی جانوں کے ضیاع کا خطرہ لاحق ہو۔ یہ بات انہوں نے گزشتہ روز گورنر ہاؤس لاہور میں پرنٹ اور الیکٹرانک میڈیا سے تعلق رکھنے والے سینئر صحافیوں کے اعزاز میں دیئے گئے افطار ڈنر کے موقع پر کہی۔ گورنرنے کہا کہ میں بھی سچا عاشقِ رسول ہوں ۔ اللہ اور اُس کے رسول کی ذات کے بارے میں کوئی غلط بات برداشت نہیں کر سکتا ۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ اسلام میں کسی ایک شخص کا ناجائز قتل پوری انسانیت کے قتل کے مترادف ہے اور یہی میرے آقا کا فرمان ہے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ توہینِ رسالت کے قانون میں بعض شقوں کا خاتمہ ناگزیر ہے کیونکہ ان شقوں کی بنیا د پر کچھ لوگ ذاتی دشمنی لینے کے لیے مخالفین پر توہینِ رسالت کا غلط الزام لگا دیتے ہیں اور عوام کو اشتعال دلا کر لوگوں کی جانوں ومال کو خطرے میں ڈال دیتے ہیں۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ ہمارے لیے نبی کریم ﷺ کے بتائے ہوئے فرامین مشعلِ راہ ہیں ۔ ہمیں ذاتی دشمنیوں کے لیے نبی کریمﷺ کی پاک ہستی کا نام قطعاََ استعمال نہیں کرنا چاہیے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ توہین رسالت کے قانون میں ترامیم کرکے معصوم لوگوں کے جان و مال کو محفوظ بنایا جاسکتا ہے۔گورنر نے کہا کہ اسلام ایک مکمل ضابطہ حیات ہے یہ برداشت اوررواداری کا درس دیتا ہے۔ پاکستانی قوم شدت پسندی کے سخت خلاف ہے ۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ اقلیتوں کو حقوق دینا ہمارا مذہبی فریضہ ہے ۔ جو لوگ اقلیتوں کی عبادت گاہوں کو نقصان پہنچاتے ہیں وہ کوئی دینی اور قومی خدمت نہیں کر رہے ہمیں اقلیتوں کے ساتھ ہمدردی اور شفقت سے پیش آنا چاہیے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ اسلام تلوار کی نوک پر دنیا میں نہیں پھیلا بلکہ یہ نبی کریم ﷺ کے محبت اور امن کے پیغام کی وجہ سے پوری دنیا میں پھیلا ہوا ہے۔

  52. Ibrahim says:
    September 20th, 2009 2:35 am

    There is a law against humiliating Pakistani flag, talking against the Pakistani state, probably talking against Jinnah too, but a law for talking inappropriately about Allah and his Rasool (saw) is against human rights?!

    And, Adil, would the “defenders” of this law know better what Islam has to say on blasphemy or would a liberal, anti-shariah person like you? How do you know this law goes against Islam? Back up your faulty claims. You say this law is wrong in its current shape and form (“as written and used”). So, please kindly tell us how to rewrite it? How did you jump from this to a call to repeal it? I would think a logical person, which you may not be, would say that since it’s written inappropriately, let us rewrite it correctly rather than just repeal it. Then, we can debate if your suggestion are appropriate or not.

    Also, look how you place Pakistan above Islam: “Pakistan’s blasphemy law, as written and used, is a blot on the basic principles of justice, on Pakistan, and even on Islam”. In other words, if a law is blot on Islam but not on Pakistan, then it’s a-ok. This is in no way a surprise, but keep up with exposing yourself.

    And then you people ask why people in Pakistan have started to take up vigilante justice! You deny people the laws that they need and you see vigilante justice. No implementation of criminal laws and you see people burning up robbers. You see no implementation of laws against prostitution and you see people forced to stop it themselves. You deny them through law to prosecute a blasphemer of Islam in a Muslim country and you will see more and more people taking upon themselves to bring the blasphemers to justice.

    You want anarchy? Leave it to people such as Adil to bring it in Pakistan.

  53. Jerome says:
    September 20th, 2009 10:49 am

    You have a good coverage on the abuses of the blasphemy laws. Good Muslims like you need to rise up and put pressure on the government to take a bold action in retaining the good name of Islam. Please keep up the good work.

  54. Zafar says:
    September 20th, 2009 11:16 am

    These laws should be changed. If you follow up any such story, at the base there is always personal enmity. This person who was killed in Sialkot loved a girl and her family spread this to punish the guy and that girl has been killed as well by her own family.

    Any person who detests a member of minority community can point a finger towards him/her and that person would be killed by a mob in or outside jail. Just think people, where does this leave us? Do you think any minority member would ever think of uttering a profanity against any religion let alone a majority?

    I hope people come to their senses and change this draconian law.

  55. Kashifiat says:
    September 20th, 2009 1:45 pm

    @ Zafar

    I respect your version of story but I also have a version where that christian Guy attacked on a Muslim female student

    see

    http://kashifiat.wordpress.com/2009/09/20/blasphemy-law-secular-lobby/

  56. Meengla says:
    September 20th, 2009 2:52 pm

    Perhaps @Ben Castle’s choice of words was not suitable for a ‘debate’ but he stole it right out of my mouth when he mentions @Ibrahim’s stretch of comparing flag-laws with blasphemy laws.
    By the way, we proud liberals may occasionally stoop to the fundamentalists’ level in blogspace but no liberal is out to close down your schools, flog girls, decapitate in public, blow away music shops, force you to wear clothes in certain way…. We want to be left alone. We don’t want Lathi Brigades of Lal Masjid. We don’t want moral policing. In return, we don’t force you to watch ‘Fahashi’ on televisions.
    We liberals are the same, more or less, whether in Karachi or Chicago or Mumbai or Beijing or London: We refuse to invoke the name of God to justify our actions. We refuse politics based on religion. And we refuse to interpret our respective Holy Books–written thousands of years ago– in a literal way in the 21st century. And, in the same vein, we (or I at least) refuse to believe that a Creature who could make billions of galaxies and stars would be offended by some uncouth’s rant enough to warrant punishment of any kind.
    ps. ‘The Blasphemy Law is the [Ultimate] Blasphemy’. Wonderful and apt title. Thank you Prof. Najam!

  57. Hamza says:
    September 20th, 2009 4:46 pm

    Great post here.

    Just adding to Obaid here. Salman Taseer deserves a lot of credit for openly calling for the abolition of the blasphemy laws. As far as I know, no politician in his position (Chief Minister/Governer) in the last twenty years has had the guts to make such a public statement. Mr. Taseer is often a confrontational and controversial character, as we saw during the judicial crisis, but we have to give him credit for standing up for the downtrodden here.

  58. Ben castle says:
    September 20th, 2009 5:52 pm

    @ ppl who are finding excuses “as always” for extermism

    AM I SURPRISED THAT HYPOCRITES ARE POSTING STORIES, with ingredients like young girl, loafer christian boy, how legitmate the anger was, and how things got out of hand

    PLEASE SAVE THIS NONSENSE

    the point is these blasphemy laws have no place whatsoever they are tool for oppression, control, personal vendetta, hate crimes, lack of tolerance for others point of view

    no matter what hppnd, how it happned, blaspmey rules have no legitmate, justfiable role to play

    I am surprised that some ppl FAIL to understand that person accused of blasphemy will only be dealt by allah, almghty has given NO ONE permission to interfere, He may or may not forgive that person. so WHAT IS THE JUSTIFCATION FOR BLASPHEMY LAWS. organizaed religion (christianity as well as jews and muslims) have shed thousand of people in the name of blashpemhy.

    I HAVE ONE QUESTION

    IF BLASPHEMY LAWS ARE OK FOR PAKISTAN SHOULD USA IMPLEMENT IT TOO, BECAUSE IF IT DOES THEN NO MUSLIM WILL BE ABLE TO STAY THERE, CAUSE ACCORDING TO CHRISTIANITY ANYONE WHO CLAIMS PROPHETHOOD AFTER JESUS IS IMPOSTER AND IS COMMITING BLASPHEMY

    so please don’t demand from others what you won’t like for yourslef. and if your version of islam put ifs and buts in this simple principle…then maybe you need to question where are you headed

    but i know you will not question yourself, cause ppl like you do not want to loose power and control to persecute ppl under the umberella of so called “religion”

  59. MQ says:
    September 20th, 2009 6:24 pm

    These mindless mobs who burn and kill to save the honor of the Prophet are actually doing more damage to his image than the alleged “blasphemers”. And those who defend or rationalize their actions are not helping improve the image of Islam either.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DE6DC143EF93BA35751C0A9609C8B63

  60. man says:
    September 21st, 2009 12:54 am

    Jinnah’s words on this law:

    Jinnah sounded the following advice on 5th September 1927:

    “I thoroughly endorse the principle that while this measure should aim at those undesirable persons who indulge in wanton vilification or attack upon the religion of any particular class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion, we must also secure this very important and fundamental principle that those who are engaged in historical works, those who are engaged in the ascertainment of truth and those who are engaged in bona fide and honest criticisms of a religion shall be protected.”

  61. man says:
    September 21st, 2009 12:56 am

    Focus on these words:

    those undesirable persons who indulge in wanton vilification or attack upon the religion of ANY particular class or upon the founders and prophets of a religion

    -Jinnah,5th September 1927

  62. Ben castle says:
    September 21st, 2009 12:09 pm

    yea if we focus on these words….what comes to mind “taliban” and islamist extermist cause they are not only attacking other religions but are also killing innocent ppl of every religion and identity…unfortunately they have gone far beyond what jinnah could have imagined

  63. Khalid says:
    September 23rd, 2009 12:41 pm

    I am very glad that you have couragesouly raised the issue.

    the extremists will attack you for doing so, but we need to discuss this as a country.

    What good are these laws? Do they actually make people respect our religion more or do they serve only to show the barbaric side of some Muslims to the world?

    We will gain respect for religion not by murdering people but by our actions and our works, if they are good then you will not need blasphemy laws. If they are not, no laws will ever help!

  64. Faheem says:
    September 23rd, 2009 1:13 pm

    Yes, I agree this is a bad law and shoudl be changed. If the Prophet (PBUH) did not need ths law how are we considering ourselves even more Muslim than Him to want these.

    but the problem is that the intolerance of the religious fundamentalists will be there even if you do not have this law.

  65. UZMA says:
    September 23rd, 2009 2:20 pm

    These two editorials are thoughtful and good ideas. They make the right point that this law has only been used for vendetta and only serves to extend hatred but there is no real use of the law for the intent it was made.

  66. APakistani says:
    September 24th, 2009 4:06 am

    This is really really… Blasphemy Law really makes me wonder if we are the worst nation every lived on the face of earth…Is Pakistan really not suitable for human habitation any more??? How could we allow this to go on in this day and age…

  67. Lubna says:
    September 24th, 2009 10:07 am

    Bravo. Well written and very clear.

    This is what most Paksitanis feel and having given in to a few fundos with guns has been a blot that we should all erase.

    Thank you for writing this for all Pakistanis.

  68. Amera says:
    September 24th, 2009 11:06 am

    YES, the Blasphemy law must go.

    I really think we need a cleanup of Zia era laws big time. But the question is who will do this and how?

    I do not see teh current govt doing this just like Musharraf could not and nor with Nawaz Sharif.

    Sad situation.

  69. Umar Shah says:
    November 20th, 2010 3:08 am

    Pakistan needs a Kemal Attaturk to rid us of this cancer and all its supporters. If Pakistan wants to exist respectably and wants to make a meaningful move on the global chessboard it needs to clean up its act which means putting its biggest asset i.e its population before everything else and placing it on the tracks of progress through education.

  70. Adnan says:
    November 20th, 2010 10:26 am

    Umer Mian

    Sorry to burst your bubble but Ataturk’s Turkey never existed at all.. Recently Turkish govt has eased the Scarf ban and have allowed the students to study in Universities.

    Is it not Irony that Pseudo Liberals like you don’t get tired to cuss Talibans to ban Women education in Afghanistan while don’t give a damn that “Women” in turkey are not allowed to study just because they wear scarf.

    Long live secular radicalism and extremism.

  71. Aleem says:
    November 20th, 2010 3:13 pm

    Well said. The blasphemy law IS blasphemy itself.

  72. Whimsical says:
    January 11th, 2011 5:45 am

    Blasphemy law is a law that punishes blasphemy agaisnt Prophets by the penalty of death. The concept of capital punishment is present in islam.I find that death penalty was endorsed by islamic jurisprudence under Khalifa’s time.I dare say they knew islam way better than today’s burgers.

    I donot wish to persecute the minorities. If there is a way that courts are intimidated and the law is exploited to settle scores than govt should work in those quarters rather than condemning the law. people of pakistan need to find out whether the law is islamic or not. i have so far find out that the background of law to form an educated opinion. toting slogans is counter productive.

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