Tag Archives: legislation

Hate crime legislation

By: Farahnaz Ispahani

Pakistan has become a brutal place to live, especially if you are a member of a religious minority. Most observers agree that the country is being swept by a rising tide of hate encouraged by unbridled hate speech. Hate speech is defined as any spoken or physical action that negatively targets a person or group of people based on their ethnicity, gender or religion.

Several countries have dealt with hate by introducing laws that enhance penalties for crimes if they are motivated by racial, gender or religious hatred. Pakistan, too, needs to implement laws that discourage the whipping up of hateful religious sentiments. While researching a private members bill to be introduced in the National Assembly of Pakistan on hate crimes and hate speech, I noticed that the issue of preventing incitement had been addressed by several articles of the Pakistan Penal Code, which dates back to 1860. The adhoc introduction of ostensibly religion-based ordinances by dictators has significantly altered Pakistan’s legal edifice, adding parallel  ‘Islamic’ provisions to the pre-partition criminal justice system. In some cases, the new superstructure has weakened the foundations of a more tolerant and pluralist society that could be ensured under the original scheme of things.

The Pakistan Penal Code is fairly rigorous on the subject of hate crimes of all kind. However, we have two serious and pressing issues. Firstly, contradictory laws like the blasphemy laws challenge the ability to prosecute under the Pakistan Penal Code and secondly, over the decades, we have seen less and less implementation of the Penal Code as in the protection of rights of our minority citizens.

Article 153-A of the Penal Code prescribes punishments for promoting “enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities”. If implemented effectively, it could be the basis for prosecuting extremists who encourage religious hatred, particularly those whose  ‘malicious intent’ is clear.

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Forced faith or force of faith?

By: Waris Husain

Excerpt;

…… When the decision by the Pakistani Supreme Court was released, a commentator on twitter noted that Rinkle Kumari, one of the three females in the case, was showing signs of Stockholm Syndrome. Neither the commentator nor I have the credentials to administer a psychological diagnosis to Ms. Kumari, now known as Faryal Bibi. However, let us think of the hundreds of other cases that have existed throughout Pakistan’s history where Hindus, Sikhs, or Christians were converted against their will.

Stockholm Syndrome has been described as a condition where an individual is abducted or kidnapped, and begins to empathise with their captor to the point that they defend their actions. In evolutionary psychology, theories have been developed that explain the evolutionary benefit of the Syndrome. When humans lived in hunter gatherer societies, clans of men would continually fight one another, and women would be taken as “victory prizes.” The women who protested their capture were regularly killed, while the ones who adjusted to life with their brutal captors survived.

Therefore, one should examine the case of religious minorities in Pakistan from this brutal, archaic, and outdated perspective. Potential converts are born into a society that subjects them to massive social and institutional discrimination, for public services and employment. Non-Muslims have been subject to murder, rape, or beatings merely for simply being born to a different religion in a nation where the right to spread Islam is more protected than the right of minorities to live in peace. In this environment, when a woman, child, or minority is converted to Islam, they could likely develop Stockholm Syndrome and embrace their new faith as an instinct to survive in a brutal society.

This raises a question that should be asked to the ‘gairatmand.’ Is the benefit of forcibly converting one individual to Islam worth jeopardising the validity of all the converts to their faith? Many say that the justice system is flawed if it mistakenly punishes one man, even when it rightfully punishes thousands. In that light, does the forced conversion of one soul not call into question the thousands of others that may have converted voluntarily?

There should be no societal benefit for belonging to the majority religion, just as there should be no detriment for being a minority. Therefore, one hopes that Parliament can address the societal discrimination at the heart of this issue by passing appropriate legislation. This legislation could thereafter be utilised and enforced through the Court. The Pakistani Constitution recognises the right to religion as fundamental, and despite contradictory laws that discriminate against minorities, a legislation is required to fairly deal with forcible conversions.

Read more » DAWN.COM

A country for bigotry

Land of bigots

By Tazeen Javed

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.

In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.

Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.

The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.

Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.

The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.

It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

A French minister of Arab origin says ‘there is no such thing as moderate Islam’

By AFP

Paris – A French minister said there was no such thing as moderate Islam, calling recent election successes by Islamic parties in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia “worrying” in an interview published Saturday.

Jeannette Bougrab, a junior minister with responsibility for youth, told Le Parisien newspaper that legislation based on Islamic sharia law “inevitably” imposed restrictions on rights and freedoms.

Bougrab is of Algerian origin, whose father fought on the French colonial side during Algeria’s war of independence, and said she was speaking as “a French woman of Arab origin.”

“It’s very worrying,” she was quoted as saying. “I don’t know of any moderate Islam.”

“There are no half measures with sharia,” she added. “I am a lawyer and you can make all the theological, literal or fundamental interpretations of it that you like but law based on sharia is inevitably a restriction on freedom, especially freedom of conscience.” ….

Read more » AL ARABIYA NEWS

L’affaire Mansoor Ijaz

By Najam Sethi

Excerpt;

In article in a British paper last month by Mansoor Ijaz, a Pakistani-American businessman with political connections in Washington, has taken a toll of the civilian government of President Asif Zardari in Islamabad. The irony is that it was written to strengthen Mr Zardari against encroachments by General Ashfaq Kayani. ….

…. The military has been gunning for Hussain Haqqani for over a decade. He ran afoul of General Musharraf in 2002 for his critical newspaper columns in Urdu and English. So he decamped to the US where he wrote his seminal book on the unholy historical nexus between the Mosque and Military in Pakistan. After he was appointed Ambassador to Washington in 2008, the military embarked upon a campaign to defame him. He was accused of acting against the “national interest” by manipulating the insertion of “pro-democracy” clauses in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation that committed $7.5 billion to Pakistan over five years as a “strategic ally.” He was blasted for enabling CIA operatives to get visas despite the fact that authorization for over 90 per cent duly came from the Pakistan Foreign Office/ISI or the Prime Minister’s secretariat. He was criticized for pledging an impartial and public investigation into how OBL came to be lodged in Abbottabad when the military was insisting there would be no more than an internal secret inquiry at best. And he was painted as an “American agent” for recommending a pragmatic and responsible Af-Pak and US-Pak foreign policy.

The writing on the wall was clear when Imran Khan thundered against Mr Haqqani in Lahore last month and Shah Mahmood Qureshi demanded an inquiry against him for “conspiring against the state”. Both are inclined to do the military’s bidding.

The core questions remain. Was the military complicit or incompetent in “L’affaire OBL”? What was the nature of its disagreement with, and threat to, the Zardari government following “Operation Geronimo”? How was Mansoor Ijaz manipulated by various Pakistani protagonists? A third series of questions has risen for the umpteenth time. Is the constitution subservient to the military? Is an elected government answerable to the “state”? Should an unaccountable military or elected civilians define the “national interest”?

The fate of Asif Zardari’s PPP and also that of Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, the two mainstream parties that majorly represent the Pakistani voter, hinges on answers to these questions.

Read more » The Friday Times

Bravo Raza Rabani: WARNING from Senator Raza Rabani for those who are creating hurdles in Provincial Autonomy

HEC ‘storm in a teacup’ spills over in NA

By Raja Asghar

ISLAMABAD: Pre-emptive politics. Conspiracy against provincial autonomy. Attempt to degrade parliament.

Such angry comments came from lawmakers as what Senator Raza Rabbani saw as only “a storm in a teacup” over mainly the financial devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to provinces spilled over in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

And when he received an apparently incomplete information during his speech in the lower house that the Supreme Court had issued a stay order against the planned devolution, Mr Rabbani, Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination and Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission for the Implementation of the Eighteenth Amendment, remarked: “Probably we are writing a new history to stop parliament from legislation.” …

Read more : DAWN

Pakistan Medical Association concerned that Dr. Noushad Ahmed Willani accused on fabricated charges of blasphemy

Pakistan Medical Association is extremely concerned over the orchestrated incidence occurred at Hyderabad in which Dr. Noushad Ahmed Willani was wrongly accused, beaten and arrested on fabricated charges of blasphemy. It is heartening to note that the role of police was extremely commendable who protected the doctor from mob attack. Yet it is unfortunate that a senior family physician providing healthcare to local community has become a victim of criminals with collaboration with fanatics.

If this situation continues and doctors are not protected then it will become impossible for health workers to continue working in the province. It is not only the duty of police to protect citizens but public at large should also play their due role like as civilized community. This situation is intolerable and action is required immediately.

PMA Demands for;

· Protection of Dr. Noushad Ahmed Willani and his family members. · Judiciary inquiry about the incidence and violence against doctor in the clinics. · Action against those who physically abused the doctor and destroyed his clinic.

· Formulation of a committee for legislation to deal with such matters and impose penalties against the culprits taking matters in their hands unlawfully under fabricated charges, and such culprits should immediately be prosecuted and if found guilty should be fined upto Rs.5 Lacs and imprisonment for 7 years.

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Petition urging 9 senators to join Senator Sanders in stopping the millionaires’ bailout

Block the Millionaire Bailout

Last night, President Obama announced that he’s giving in to the GOP and extending the Bush tax breaks for the rich.

The “deal” President Obama is proposing is an “absolute disaster,” as Senator Bernie Sanders said. So Sen. Sanders said last night he would “do whatever I can to see that 60 votes are not acquired to pass this piece of legislation.”

But Sen. Sanders can’t do it alone. So we’re urging other leading progressives in the Senate to stand with him to block any extension of the millionaire bailout.

Can you sign the petition to leading progressive senators today?

A compiled petition with your individual comment will be presented to Sens. Feingold, Franken, Brown (OH), Boxer, Merkley, Whitehouse, Durbin, Harkin, and Schumer.

Political Action – Sign the Petition : Move On