Blasphemy Law: Dominance Without Toleration

Posted on November 26, 2010
Filed Under >Manan Ahmed (Sepoy), Law & Justice, Religion
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Manan Ahmed (Sepoy @ Chapati Mystery)

1. According to the 1998 census, there are slightly more than 2 million Christians (1.59% of total population) distributed roughly equally across urban and rural areas. As a minority the Christian community in Pakistan is predominantly located in the province (state) of Punjab. Although sizable communities are found in the cities of Quetta, Karachi and Peshawar as well.

1a. The Objectives Resolution of 1949 stated that in the Republic of Pakistan “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures;” The Objectives Resolution was made the preamble in the 1973 Constitution. The word “freely” was removed.

2. The Church of Pakistan was amalgamated from Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican churches in 1970.

3. The earliest recorded attack on Christian communities was in 1952, when a family of 7 were burned alive in the village of Matti. The criminals were caught, prosecuted and hanged.

4. During the first two decades of Pakistan, Christian communities were largely integrated. They had a political party and in the 1951 and 1954 elections, they won four seats (each) in the local Punjab Assembly.

5. The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan declared that “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan” and restricted minority participation in government and politics.

6. General Zia ul Haq took over the state through a military coup in 1977 and the hung the deposed Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979. He also undertook a strict policy of “Islamization” through which laws and practices in the country were to brought in accordance with Islamic jurisprudence. Some of the most damaging new laws fell under the rubric of “Blasphemy”.

7. In 1980, he introduced Section 298-A under the Martial Law Ordinance which criminalized derogatory remarks against the earliest leaders in Muslim history, as well as the family and friends of the Prophet Muhammad. Section 298-B & C focused on disrespect to the holy book Qur’an as well as the declaration of apostasy towards the community of Ahmadis (a sect within Islam).

8. Section 298-A: Use of derogatory remarks etc. in respect of Holy Personages:

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or by any imputation, innuendo, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of any wife or members of the family of the Holy Prophet or any of the righteous Caliphs or companions of the Holy Prophet shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine or with both

9. Section 295-B: Defiling etc. of copy of Holy Quran

Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.

10. Section 295-C: Use of derogatory remarks, etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet.

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.

11. Furthermore, in 1980, General Zia ul Haq by constitutional amendment created the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) through Article 203-D which had the following powers:

The Court may, either of its own motion or on the petition of a citizen of Pakistan or the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the Injunctions of Islam, as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, hereinafter referred to as the Injunction of Islam.

12. In 1990, the FSC concluded that the “imprisonment for life” under Section 295-B and 295-C was unjust punishment according to Islamic law. The Sections were amended so that the only penalty remained was the death penalty.

13. The Blasphemy laws have become the main vehicle of prosecution and persecution of non-Muslims since 1980s. And, of ”other non-Muslims.

14. In Gujranwala, Punjab, in 1994, three men (including a minor) were accused of writing derogatory remarks against the Prophet. The three Christians, Rehmat Masih, Manzoor Masih and Salamat Masih were arrested. Manzoor Masih was murdered while awaiting trial. The others were acquitted after two years.

15. In Faisalabad, in 1998, Dr. Bishop John Joseph publicly committed suicide. He shot himself in front of the court room of Justice Rana Abdul Jabbar Dogar in protest of a death sentence that had been passed out against a Christian Ayub Masih for blasphemy on April 27th, 1998.

16. A series of terrorist attacks occurred in 2001 and 2002 against Christian establishments, perhaps as a result of Pakistani cooperation with United States in the war in Afghanistan: In October 29th, gunmen killed 16 Christians in the St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church near Multan. A grenade attack on International Presbyterian Church in Islamabad on March 17th, 2002 killed five and injured 40. Unknown assailants attacked Murree Christian School on August 5th, 2002 and killed six people. Unknown assailants attacked the Mission Hospital in Taxila on August 9th, 2002 and killed 4 nurses, injuring 21 others. Seven Christian workers of the charity “Idara Amn-o-Insaf” were killed on September 24th, 2002.

17. In November 2005, three churches, two schools and hostels and several houses of the Christian community were burned by a mob in the city of Sangla Hill. The mob had mobilized on the rumor that someone had blasphemed against the Prophet.

18. On September 27th, 2007 the missionary couple Rev. Arif Khan and Kathleen Khan were killed in their house in Islamabad on September 27th, 2007.

19. In August 2009, 60 Christian homes were burned in Gojra, 7 women and children were burnt alive. The accused were granted bail November 05, 2010.

20. Just on November 15, 2010, a man accused of blasphemy, upon release on bail, was shot dead by unknown assailants.

The inhumane legal treatment of so-designated “minorities” in Pakistan is starkly repugnant.

Sign your name.

Dr. Manan Ahmed blogs as Sepoy on Chapati Mystery where this post was first published.

43 responses to “Blasphemy Law: Dominance Without Toleration”

  1. Watan Aziz says:

    Oh, yes, yet one more time, for the eAbu Jahil, the resident ignorant:

    Within the context of Qur’an, if someone declares another as “not a Muslim”, that person is committing shirk.

    The word shirk is derived from the Arabic root Š-R-K. This consonantal root has the general meaning of “to share” (A. A. Nadwi, Vocabulary of the Qur’an). In the context of the Qur’an, the particular sense of “sharing as an equal partner” is usually understood…(Source: Wiki)

    Further, in the context of Qur’an, if anyone calls himself or herself as Muslim, then that concept they so acclaim has moved from the domain of man to that of the Malik. No one can pronounce judgement on it. The faith of that person is not even relevant. He could be of any faith and yet claim to be a Muslim. It is both the concept and a word given by Qur’an that the person will be judged by Malik.

    And the only One who knows if a person has submitted or not, is the Malik, the Khaliq.

    Shirke-e-Akbar is defined as “to associate Allah’s attributes to someone as his own. (Attributing, considering, or portraying God’s knowledge or might to anyone else)”. (Source: Wiki)

    Anyone else who seem to possess this knowledge has equated himself or herself to the Khaliq. Anyone who calims that such and such person will not be able to “save” himself, is attributing himself or herself with the Malik.

    And while Qur’an showers mercy on all mistakes, it does not consider “shirk” as a mistake.

    And always, on matter of faith, only Khaliq knows best.

  2. Watan Aziz says:

    ATP congratulations!

    A powerful article.

    More powerful than the tamashbeen.

    Little more than what Jang would have done.

    About the same as Dawn or the News would have produced.

    But the editors in Boston, Chicago, Princeton or Berkley would have laughed it out and not even responded asking for corrections.

    And any magazine of Nature stature would given warning not to submit any for another two years.

    So let us see.

    Well, let me get the disclaimer out of the way first, blasphemy has no concept in Qur’an; there is no word for it either. To think there is a punishment associated with it is like trying to string yarn from Earth to Moon. Impossible.

    Blasphemy as matter of common laws also has no basis. All sections related to this matter should be expunged from the books of Pakistan. And with haste.

    Now on to the article.

    As usual, it will remain mystery to me why Pakistanis have a lower standards for Pakistan? And more importantly, why does ATP want to participate willfully in perpetuating ignorance? I will leave it to ATP to figure it out.

    First, there is no “Blasphemy Law” in Pakistan. It is part of the Penal Code of Pakistan.

    Next, there is the oxymoron of “Dominance without Toleration”. Duh! Dominance is always without toleration. Do you know anyone who dominated with toleration?

    The word “freely” was reinserted in the Constitution via the 18th Amendment. Pakistanis do not read, so who cares!

    And this is the classic illustration, that the word “freely” has no impact in Pakistan. It’s omission or commission does not change ground realities. No Pakistani is free unless he or she has “protection”. And no Pakistani can freely ask for equity and justice. They even attempted to deny it in the broad day light to the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Bullies. Thugs.

    The Church of Pakistan is one of the largest Churches in the world. (Actually, this is one of my favorite “Stump the Chump” questions.) It also includes Lutherans. The Church of Pakistan is a united church in Pakistan, which is part of the Anglican Communion and a member church of the World Methodist Council. It was established in 1970 with a union of Anglicans, Scottish Presbyterians (Church of Scotland), Methodists, and Lutherans. It is the only United Church in the South Asia which involves the Lutheran Church. Though united, it is mainly Anglican in theology and outlook, since from the beginning Anglicans formed the bulk of the 800,000 strong congregation and most of the important Sees. (Source: Wiki)

    The 1973 Constitution did not restrict minority participation in government or politics. Pakistan recently elevated a greatly respected justice as the Chief Justice of Pakistan whose religion happened to be other than Islam. True, the highest political offices are limited to Muslims but that does not entirely mean “restrict minority participation in government or politics”. It casts an incorrect and wrong impression about Pakistan.

    Sections 298-A, B and C are part of Pakistan Penal Code and not of “Martial Law Ordinance”.

    It is to deny the ground reality that blasphemy is not used against Muslims themselves in addition to the minorities.

    The ignorant mullah routinely uses it to bully the people in “his” masjid. To feel it’s affects, take your life in your hands one day in any masjid.

    The fake liberals have and will use it so that you do not speak in “their” policy meetings. Recently someone posted how his brother was implicated in a legal dispute with this tool. It is a good tool to keep a person shut out and sit quite.

    Now just because it has not been reported widely or recorded extensively does not mean this has not been used. As a matter of fact, in the ealy days of Zia, government officicals were even been harrassed for not wearing shalwar-kamiz and not showing up for Jumma prayers. They were promised worst for themselves. I know this first hand.

    So, to imply that blasphemy is used against the minorities alone, is both intellectual dishonesty and factually wrong.

    Finally, I have said it here, here and here (OK, Google it for the links) that to just because someone has wrongly associated Islam and Qur’an with a statement or concept or belief does not mean we should equally reward it by discussing it under the same venue and forum. Just the opposite.

    The evil usurper and his cohort Brohi, in their fits of madness, subjugated Pakistani to their total control via these sections. And they did it under the name of the Islam. I still recoil when I see those evil eyes. I still get a chill in my spine when I hear someone recite the “Namdahoos” that evil piped piper used to recite.

    But it is not Islam. It is not Qur’an. And this is not how Rasool was known.

    Those who are writing to repeal the law, I am all with them, but please stop associating Qur’an and Rasool with it.

    To do so, you may be politically correct, but you sell Qur’an and Rasool short. With repeated references you induce the element that somehow, you are trying to undo something that is part of Qur’an or teachings of Rasool.

    There are enough ignorant people on both side of the shouts who do not read or think for themselves. Amazingly, on this topic ignorance from both sides joins and wants to associate blasphemy with Qur’an and Rasool.

    Let us reject this temptation.

    Let us repeal this dastardly law, with haste, for what it really is and not how someone wants to implicate the faith of the good, decent, honest, hardworking and middle of the road Pakistanis.

    Let us “free” all Pakistanis from the long nightmare we are suffering due to evil usurper doings.

  3. Adnan says:

    While people here are more eager to label themselves up as “Musalman” as nicks, in reality any one who claims to be called a MUSLIM can’t be called one if does not comply the hadith:

    “None of you has faith unless I am dearer to him than his father and his son and all mankind(Bukhari 2:7)

    So any one who makes such claim ask himself what is the worth of the Prophet(saw) inside then come out and “promote” himself as a Muslim. Only naming as “Musalman” is not going to save him at all

  4. Adnan says:

    @The “Musalman” Mian:

    OK, Help me to getrid of following things and I will be with you to repeal Blasphemy law(s) from Pakistan.

    1- Let Qadyanis start admitting that they are not following the basic teachings of Islam and they are following “Qadyaniat” in the disguise of Islamic laws hence they agree to be considered as Non-Muslims.

    2- Throw out all so called “roshan Khyal” Scholars like Ghamidi and others who are busy to pollute teachings of Islam by promoting anti-Hadith cult and others.

    3- Let the experts of the religion to interpret the teachings of Islam rather than drawing experts like you and other liberals who are always up to show more hatred against Islam then genuine non-Muslims. Let me help to stop all those wannabe e-Muftis and others who hardly opened Quran in life yet ready to interpret it one way or other(e.g: Liberals on This forum,Salman Taseer and Asima Jehangir)

    Help me to clean all filth mentioned above and I would second you to repeal Blasphemy law. So if you have guts then come forward and help me to eliminate the reason of excuse which modern AbuJahals aka Liberals use to malign Islam.

  5. TruthSeeker says:


    I think what JJ may be referring to is not individual condemnation by muslims commenting here, there is no such condemnation by a representative group of Muslims, at least not that I am aware of.


    I agree with you that if the law is bad it should be repealed after a careful and thorough discussion but this issue runs deeper than that, we unfortunately have a society where a considerable number of people think that if someone makes a derogatory remark against their religion or its prophet then not only that person is liable to be killed but if they do not kill him/her they have failed in their duties as a muslim. I wonder how can that mindset be changed. Maybe repealing this law will be a move in that direction.

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