Pakistani student Mashal Khan was killed by a mob on a university campus after being accused of blasphemy against Islam. His father says there is no freedom of expression in the country.
Pakistan: The singer-turned- preacher Junaid Jamshed has been accused of Blasphemy. The situation broke out when, Junaid Jamshed’s video got viral in which he found to pass disrespecting remarks about Hazart Ayesha ; wife of Hazart Muhammad (PBHU). Earlier, J.J in recent times also came under the ridar of Liberal section of Pakistan, when he gave a tip in a live show that if you want to control your wives, dont let them drive the car.
Here is the Video: http://www.thenewsteller.com/2014/12/pakistan/singer-turned-preacher-junaid-jamshed-accused-blasphemy/#sthash.rBQnWXxG.dpuf
A British pensioner who was sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy, has been shot and injured by a policeman inside the Pakistani jail where the 70-year-old was on death row. A Christian pastor was reportedly killed in the same incident. Muhammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh and whose family says he has a history of mental illness, was shot in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning by a member of a specialist police unit allegedly using a concealed weapon. Pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed in the same incident, Reuters reported.
Mr Asghar was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January this year after a disgruntled tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet. During his trial, his family tried to present evidence that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
A lawyer for Mr Asghar, who asked not to be identified, said they had been told the pensioner had been shot in the back at 8.30am by a police constable attached to a specialist unit.
ISLAMABAD — Reuters: A Pakistani mob killed a woman member of a religious sect and two of her granddaughters after a sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook, police said Monday, the latest instance of growing violence against minorities.
The dead, including a seven-year-old girl and her baby sister, were Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet after Mohammed. A 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and many Pakistanis consider them heretics.
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More details » So what if she is 8-months old? She is Ahmadi, kill her!
Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy
LAHORE, Pakistan — “I used to feel my life was too straight, too linear.”
The speaker was Junaid Hafeez, a young poet and Fulbright scholar from the south of Pakistan, telling a radio show host in 2011 why he had given up studying medicine for a life in literature. Today, he is in jail on a blasphemy charge that carries the death penalty, and is mourning the lawyer who was murdered earlier this month for defending him.
Before his arrest, Hafeez was teaching in the English Department at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, a city in Punjab Province close to where he grew up. His personal charisma and liberal views had won him a following among students, as well as the envious attention of faculty members.
One day in 2013, a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of the hard-line Jamaat-i-Islami party, accused Hafeez of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The student had no evidence, but no evidence was needed.
Hard-line students soon held a protest crying out for Hafeez’s execution. University administrators backed away. The police registered a case for blasphemy against Hafeez. They did not ask cybercrime specialists to investigate the accusation, relying instead on a fatwa issued by a seminary.
For months Hafeez’s father tried to find a lawyer. Finally he petitioned Rashid Rehman, the 53-year-old special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. A legal expert with 20 years of activism, Rehman was known as a go-to lawyer for hopeless causes. Despite the danger, he agreed to take Hafeez’s case. Defending a man accused of blasphemy, Rehman told a reporter in April, was like “walking into the jaws of death.”
Those jaws have been open wide since the 1980s, when the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq updated a set of colonial laws that criminalized “insulting the religion of any class of persons.” The original laws were devised in the late 19th century by a paternalistic British government trying to keep its multifaith subjects from fighting one another. Those laws were worded generally, and prescribed fines and, at most, two-year prison terms.
General Zia’s amendments particularized the insults and tailored the provisions to favor a stringent Sunni strain of Islam. They criminalized the desecration of the Quran, any defiling of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, and disrespectful remarks about his companions — a jab at Pakistan’s Shiite minorities, who dispute the outcome of the succession struggle that followed the Prophet’s death. Moreover, any attempt by members of the outlawed Ahmadi sect to refer to themselves as Muslims was criminalized. Punishments were upgraded: Blasphemers could be executed or jailed for life.
General Zia died in an air crash in 1988, but his legacy remains. It includes the empowerment of theological figures in every stratum of life — from clerics and televangelists to fanatical academics and Shariah judges — all aided in their righteous endeavors by a legislature that remains intractably Zia-ist.
The blasphemy laws are part of this package. For decades they had been rarely used, with only a handful of cases before the mid-1980s. But General Zia’s amendments opened the floodgates: More than a thousand cases have been reported since then, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Just last week the Punjabi police, prompted by a Sunni extremist, brought blasphemy charges against 68 lawyers.
The blasphemy laws can serve just about anyone with a dark design — an angry relative, an envious colleague, a neighbor with his eye on your property. But the greatest beneficiary has been the professional Islamists, who specialize in their application to encroach on both state and society.
MULTAN: Human Rights Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, DawnNews reported late on Wednesday night.
Initial reports suggest that Khan was targeted by two gunmen inside his office at Kachehri Chowk.
Sources told Dawn.com that two clean-shaven young men barged into Advocate Khan’s office and shot him dead. They also injured his two lawyer friends, identified as Nadeem Parwaz and Afzal.
Injured were taken to Nishtar Medical Center where Parwaz is said to be in a critical condition.
“Armed gunmen stormed the chamber of Rashid Rehman and started indiscriminate firing on Wednesday evening, injuring Rehman and two of his associates present there,” senior police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.
Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The senior lawyer was defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life.
The HRCP had voiced serious concern over the threats extended to Khan.
Last week, a 65-year-old British man of Pakistani origin, Mohammad Asghar, who is said have a history of mental illness, was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a court in Rawalpindi. He had been arrested in 2010 after writing letters to several individuals in which he claimed to be a prophet.
Chinese worker cleared of blasphemy in Pakistan
MUZAFFARABAD: Authorities in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Thursday cleared a Chinese man accused of committing blasphemy by desecrating a Quran, officials said.
Lee Ping, the administration manager of a Chinese consortium building a major hydropower project, was accused on May 17 of throwing the Islamic holy book on the ground, prompting hundreds of workers to attack his company offices.
Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the 180 million population are Muslims. Even unproven allegations can spark a violent and sometimes deadly public response.
Police took Lee into protective custody at a secret location after protests erupted at the company offices near Muzaffarabad, the main town of the disputed Himalayan region, but on Thursday he was cleared.
“Police investigation has cleared the Chinese worker of desecration of Quran charges,” cabinet minister Matloob Inqalabi told reporters.
Today a charged mob” set fire to about 150 poor Christian homes in Badami Bagh Lahore. see pictures here.
The order of events was pretty standard.
Wednesday: A Christian sanitary worker (yes, they clean gutters and sweep roads) argued with a Muslim Barber at a snooker game. At some point after this he accused the Christian of having blasphemed he who must not be named.
Friday: “Enraged Muslims” marched into Joseph colony looking for the blasphemer. They beat up his father (age 65, very much in the “beatable” age group) and did some property damage. Police arrested the accused that night. They also advised the local Christians to clear out since more “rage” may be on its way.
Saturday: Thanks to the timely efforts of the Punjab police, no Christians were home when the rage returned on Saturday. 178 houses were burnt, as was one church. No one was killed since no one was there.
Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif has suspended the local police officers and promised to rebuild the houses. He has also said the trial of the blasphemy accused will be held in prison and it is looking possible that the trial will be quick and he may be set free (unlike Aasia bibi, who remains in prison).
“Civil society” has reacted with outrage and the President and the PM have condemned this outrage. Most of the outrage is probably genuine. But I noticed some common misconceptions too.
1. This outrage is new and shocking and marks a “further deterioration” in how things are done in the Islamic Republic….In this case, NOT true. This event is small scale compared to the assault on Shantinagar in 1997.
There have been many other blasphemy accusations and mobs between then and now. The outrage is outrageous, but neither new nor out of proportion to “usual practice”.
2. The mobs are led by misunderstanders of Islam. Actually the mobs are led by people who know what they are doing with remarkable clarity. Blasphemy and apostasy memes (memes, not laws…no law is needed if the meme is firmly in place, since they allow for freelance action) are the twin pillars on which Islamism is built. See here for details.
Today is the 16th anniversary of the sacking of Shanti Nagar. In memory of this, we publish the relevant section of a new report on Pakistan we plan to publish quite soon.
Shanti Nagar is a predominantly Salvation Army village in the Punjab province, founded in 1916, of around 25-30,000 people. Apart from about 15 Muslim families – for whom the other villagers built a mosque – the inhabitants are Christian. Hard work in farming meant the village was relatively prosperous. On 17th January police raided the house of a 60 year old Christian, claiming intelligence of alcohol-drinking and gambling going on. The police regularly raided the village on such pretexts – usually about every fortnight, probably because of jealousy over the Christian village’s prosperity. They would harass the villagers, and because the villagers were rich enough to bribe the corrupt police, they always came back for more. Anyway, despite, as ever, no gambling or alcohol or anything else illegal going on there, they searched his property, and amidst the ransacking a box with a bible fell out. The police deliberately kicked and desecrated the bible, and took the man to the police station, even though they had found nothing illegal, and were trying to get a large bribe from him. The residents of the village protested the raid, the false arrest and the desecration of the bible, and also the numerous false blasphemy accusations that had been made against villagers. They asked for charges under article 295 to be brought against the policeman responsible. Even after police investigations found the charge to be true, the police refused to act until sustained pressure resulted in a promise to suspend the officers responsible and take them to court. Then the police pressured the village for the matter to be settled out of court, but they refused and the senior police officer threatened to act in way that meant they would not be able to stand on their own feet for at least 50 years. On 3rd February, a general election day, he posted the policeman who had kicked the bible to Shanti Nagar as security officer. This made the villagers even more angry as it proved the promises by higher police officers to take action was a lie, and they protested even more, so the police hatched a plot. Two days later, a Muslim man went to an abandoned mosque 2km from Shanti Nagar and found – so he said – torn pages of the Quran with blasphemous words and the name and address of the Christian from Shanti-Nagar who complained about his bible being desecrated, along with several others. He took it to the police station of the nearby city of Khanewal, a stronghold of an Islamicist group with ties to Bin Laden called Harkat-ul-Insar. Within 30 minutes of registering a case (and several Christians being arrested), mosque loud speakers from the city and all the Muslim villages around about were calling all faithful Muslims to wage jihad against Shanti Nagar, using word for word identical language. City church priests rushed to warn senior officials of the impending attack, and were promised that all appropriate measures would be made, but that too was a lie. Late that night, mobs started attacking churches, Christian homes and shops and medical dispensaries in Khanewal, setting them and their contents on fire. The next morning, the mob attacked the Catholic church just outside the city Council buildings. Bibles and other books were gathered from churches and burned, and the Holy Communion bread thrown on the floor, statues and the like were systematically smashed. 100’s attacked the priests’ house and burned all the parish records. Pleas for police help went unheeded, they just stood by and watched. The mob attacked a Christian boys school. Many fled, but about 50 of the youngest hid under their beds. The mob set fire to mattresses over them, and they had to flee for their lives, several being carried out unconscious. They burned all the school records and furniture. They then attacked the Salvation army church and pharmacy, and re-attacked the Church of Pakistan building they had attacked the night before. Christians in local shops and homes fled for their lives, but those who were caught were severely beaten. Again the police did nothing. The mob only retreated when Christians started throwing bricks and stones to defend their homes.
If you dare to raise your voice against the hostilities and ill-treatment Christians are enduring, it would either be declared as ‘blasphemous’ or you would be labelled as an agent of the firangi
by Adil Shahzeb
I have received tremendous feedback for my last article, “Pakistan, the game of religious bigotry” (Daily Times, November 10, 2012), but one email in particular has compelled me to touch on the challenges faced by the Christian community in Pakistan. I had mentioned Christians just once in my last article, but not enough about the biased and highly unfair treatment that they face throughout their lives. In Pakistan’s religious bigotry, the most deprived of all are the Christians, the ‘minority’ that only gets media attention if accused of ‘blasphemy’ or as a Muslim convert. According to the UK-based Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, “Christians in Pakistan are illiterate, suffering in extreme poverty and unemployment among Christians has increased to an unprecedented level.” The statistical data indicates that only six percent have primary school education; four percent of Christians have high school education, one percent of Christians have college education, and next to no presence in higher studies and professional education.
I had no idea that my article in Daily Times would take me right back to my childhood to reflect upon the ills of our society. Now that I am writing I am reminded of a classmate, the most bullied child at school, who was not even allowed to sit with the other children or to be precise, no other pupil would prefer to willingly share a desk with him unless as a punishment by the teacher for not doing his homework. He was the only Christian child in the entire school who would stand with his lunch box in a corner of the playground during recess and was never allowed by the other children to play with them. For obvious reasons he failed all of his exams three years in row until he was forced to leave. Back then I never understood how deprived he was, but now I really feel for the mental torture and the traumatised childhood he endured. Of course it does not matter at all in Pakistan what Article Five of the Universal Declaration of Human Right states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
It is not only how an underprivileged Christian child is treated at school. When he grows up in our highly radicalised society he is told: the only job that suits you is to clean the streets of Pakistan as that was how your forefathers served this country. And it does not stop there; you also will not have a say in the country’s mainstream affairs including politics; you would hardly be considered for any white-collar job, and last but certainly not the least, all your life your ‘non-Christian’ friends would look down upon you, and you would most probably be the victim of bullying forever. Even though your educational institutions and the broken society would only groom you as the next generation of lowly worker, if you somehow manage to grow up with a good education and competence, most of the jobs that you would opt for would be for non-Christians. However if despite that, you do manage to secure a decent job, you could face a similar hostile work environment that you went through at your school.
Pakistani man accuses ambassador to U.S. of blasphemy
By Asim Tanveer, MULTAN, Pakistan
(Reuters) – Pakistani police registered an accusation from a businessman on Thursday that the country’s ambassador to the United States had committed blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty, in connection with a 2010 TV talk show.
The accusation against Ambassador Sherry Rehman is the latest in a string of controversial blasphemy cases in Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation whose name translates as Land of the Pure.
According to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone found to have uttered words derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad can be put to death. Those who are accused are sometimes lynched by mobs even before they reach court.
Rehman has already faced death threats from militants after calling for reforms to the country’s anti-blasphemy law, according to court documents. Two politicians who suggested reforming the law were assassinated.
The language of the audio is Hindi (urdu).
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday admitted a petition filed against Sherry Rehman over allegedly committing blasphemy, DawnNews reported.
The petition was heard by a two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Ejaz Afzal.
The bench directed CPO Multan Amir Zulfiqar to take action in accordance with the law.
The petition against Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was filed by Faheem Akhtar Gill, a citizen of Multan.Gill had requested to the court to register a case against Rehman for allegedly committing blasphemy.
The petition claims that Rehman had committed blasphemy while speaking on a news channel two years ago.
In Nov 2010, Rehman had submitted a bill to the National Assembly Secretariat seeking an end to the death penalty under the existing blasphemy laws.
By Naseer Memon
The day that Sindh celebrated Sindhi Culture Day — an icon of peace and humanity — a manic mob brutally trampling mores of Sindhi society lynched an accused blasphemer after dragging him out from police custody in Seeta village of Dadu district in Sindh. The audacious crime went unhindered either by any state institution or by any sane citizen. The first of its kind in Sindh’s recent history, this incident has traumatised the predominantly liberal and progressive ranks in rural Sindh. Only recently, the province witnessed the exodus of a large number of Hindu families after they were incessantly intimidated and targeted by extortionists and obscurantist elements. Customary attitudes of denial by government institutions prevailed. Even so-called progressive stalwarts of the ruling PPP from Sindh were obstinate that no migration took place due to any systematic persecution of Hindus.
ISLAMABAD: A liberal lawmaker on Thursday accused Pakistan’s prime minister of sabotaging efforts to reform blasphemy laws that have been widely condemned by rights groups.
“Appeasement of extremism is a policy that will have its blowback,” said Sherry Rehman, a lawmaker for the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The former information minister petitioned parliament to reform the legislation in November after a Christian woman was sentenced to death, but the private member’s bill was never listed on parliament’s agenda.
Despite escalating international condemnation and the murder of politician Salman Taseer for backing reform, the government refuses to consider any amendment, bowing to protest from the nation’s powerful religious right-wing.
Karachi – When Laxman saw four men entering the Hindu temple with their shoes on, he instantly yelled at them to stop in their tracks. But the only reward he got for trying to protect the sanctity of his place of worship was a beating. With every punch and kick, he was called names like Bhangi (sweeper) and Kafir (infidel).
“I can’t explain how I felt at that moment. I was both enraged and terrified,” said the 35-year-old resident of the Shri Rama Mandir compound in Soldier Bazaar.
The demolition of the century-old temple stirred a sense of insecurity among the already frightened Hindu community in the city and reaffirmed its belief that people practicing the religion existed as second-class citizens in Pakistan.
“I said they can shoot me if they like, but I won’t let them go in with shoes,” said Laxman, a man partially paralysed by a stroke.
“Half of my body does not work, but at that moment, Rama Pir gave me the strength to fight, and I did what I could,” he said.
The men put the statues and tridents from the temple out on the ground. Then a bulldozer reduced the pre-partition Mandir to rubble. A number of houses in the compound were also demolished, rendering around a dozen families homeless. They even pried opened the donation box and took away the cash and jewellery, the residents alleged.
“We have been living in this compound since the British era”, said Maharaj Badriram, the priest of the Shri Rama Pir Mandir. “We never had any problems with the larger community, but the treatment meted out on this occasion was inhumane. People look to me for help, but now, I find myself helpless,” he said.
A 17-year-old Hindu boy, who took video footage of the planned demolition, claimed that some bearded men associated with a political party oversaw the destruction. “I don’t understand how people can insult the religion of others and expect respect in return,” he said.
The President of the Schedule Caste Federation Pakistan, Kalidas Khandara, said that people in the country take Hindus for granted. “They think we are weak, so they can intimidate us, but this time, it won’t happen.”
Hundreds of people from the Hindu community staged a peaceful rally from Doli Khata, Soldier Bazaar, to the Karachi Press Club to protest against the demolition of the Shri Rama Pir Mandir, which was illegally demolished on Saturday.
“Every time a temple is threatened, we have to run to the courts. It is the third time it has happened this year,” said Ramesh Kumar Wakwani, the head of the Pakistan Hindu Council.
“There should be a stipulated policy for our properties in this country; we are also a part of Pakistan.”
The protestors demanded that the government immediately restore the temple with all its dignity.
Wakwani said that the double standards against Hindus in the city could be gauged from the fact that those coming from outside and building shanty towns in Karachi get leases, but Hindus living here for more than a century were still considered illegal.
Speaking about the demolished temple, Kalidas Khandara of the Scheduled Caste Federation said that Ramapir Mandir was restored by the government in the year 2000, which went to show that the place of worship was not only registered, but received government grants as it was a\deserving heritage site.
Twitter alert: Marvi Sirmed attacked!
By Web Desk / Umer Nangiana
SLAMABAD: A columnist and human rights campaigner, Marvi Sirmed, escaped unhurt when the car she was traveling in came under attack on Friday in Islamabad as suggested by users of social network Twitter.
Columnist Nusrat Javeed tweeted that Marvi’s car, being driven by her husband Manzoor Sirmed, was fired at. However, the couple remained “unharmed but shaken”, tweeted another user.
Geo News Urdu tweeted quoting Marvi as saying that she has survived the attack and has informed the police about it.
Marvi Sirmed told The Express Tribune that as they were traveling, they encountered a car with black tinted windows parked in front. Someone pulled out a gun from within the car and fired twice at them. Marvi said that they ducked and turned their car around. At this point the assailant fired at them once more. She said that they approached the nearest police checkpost, but by the time they returned to the scene of the crime, the assailant’s car had disappeared. Marvi said that she did not know who could have attacked her.
Mob sets girls’ school on fire over ‘blasphemy’
LAHORE: A large number of students, their parents and other people on Wednesday protested against a school administration for “distributing a blasphemous essay sheet among students”.
The protesters later set Farooqi Girls High School in Ravi Road area on fire.
A highly respected Sindhi woman leader from the hometown of slain premier Benazir Bhutto would brief the American Congress on the slave-like status of Pakistan’s Hindu and Christian women Thursday.
Dr. Rubina Greenwood, who belongs to a family of scholars and intellectuals from Larkano, Sindh, and is a Briton now, will partake in the Congressional Briefing on Minority Women’s Rights in Pakistan. She will inform the congress of the daily abductions, forced conversions and rape in the garb of marriages of minority Hindu and Christian women in Pakistan.
The Washington DC based Hindu American Foundation has organized the briefing.
The status of Hindu and Christian women in Pakistan is like that of modern day slaves. These minorities are routinely hounded under the draconian blasphemy law that carries the death sentence.
Attack on Hindus prompts blasphemy case in Pakistan
Islamabad: A group of Muslims suspected of ransacking a Hindu temple in southern Pakistan may be charged with blasphemy, police said Sunday. The case is a rare twist on the use of the country’s harsh blasphemy laws, which are more often invoked against supposed offenses to Islam as opposed to minority faiths.
The laws, sections of which carry the death penalty or life imprisonment, have drawn renewed international scrutiny this year after a young Christian girl in Islamabad was alleged to have desecrated the Muslim holy book, the Quran. A Muslim cleric now stands accused of fabricating evidence against the girl, who has been freed on bail and whose mental capacity has been questioned.
Police officer Mohammad Hanif said the anti-Hindu attack took place Sept. 21. The government had declared that day a national holiday – a “Day of Love for the Prophet” – and called on people to demonstrate peacefully against a U.S.-made anti-Islam film that has sparked protests throughout the Muslim world. Those rallies took a violent turn in Pakistan, and more than 20 people were killed.
Hanif said dozens of Muslims led by a cleric converged on the outskirts of Karachi in a Hindu neighborhood commonly known as Hindu Goth. The protesters attacked the Sri Krishna Ram temple, broke religious statues, tore up a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, and beat up the temple’s caretaker, Sindha Maharaj.
“The attackers broke the statues of (Hindu deities) Radha, Hanuman, Parwati and Krishna, and took away the decorative gold ornaments,” Maharaj said. “They also stormed my home and snatched the gold jewelry of my family, my daughters.”
Maharaj and other Hindu leaders turned to the police, who registered a case against the cleric and eight other Muslims. But none of the suspects had been found as of Sunday, Hanif said.
The police officer said the case against the attackers was registered under Section 295-A of the blasphemy laws, which covers the “outraging of religious feelings.” That section of the law can carry a fine or up to 10 years imprisonment, but, if the case were to proceed, it’s unclear exactly what punishment would be imposed.
By Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: MNA Fazle Karim of the Sunni Ittehad Council condemned the mainstream political parties on Friday for not joining the protests against the anti-Islam movie and urged the public to not vote for them in the next elections.
He was speaking to an Ishq-i-Rasool Day rally on The Mall.
Karim said the ruling parties could not be trusted with representing the sentiments or interests of the people. He said the parties were silent on the issue because they were afraid of losing the United States’ support for their governments.
He demanded a joint session of the parliament to evolve a strategy for dealing with any insult to Islam.
The SIC chief said the provincial [- -Punjab – -] government was guilty of blasphemy when it demolished six shrines that fell in the route of the Bus Rapid Transit System in Lahore.
By Associated Press
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani officials say they have opened an investigation into a businessman who has been accused of blasphemy after refusing to join protests over an anti-Islam video and allegedly trying to convince others also not to take part.
Police officer Munir Abbasi says that hundreds of protesters in the city of Hyderabad who rallied against the film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad demanded businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan shut his shops in solidarity.
When Khan refused, one of his tenants said his decision supported the film.
City police chief Fareed Jan said Wednesday the protesters claim Khan insulted the Prophet.
Jan said there’s no evidence to suggest this happened and said police were pressured by the mob to open the case. ….
Read more » The Washington Post
The likelyhood of death sentence being awarded to an 11 year old for alleged blasphemy is symptomatic of the naked abuse of power exercised by religious zealots
By Ayesha Siddiqa, Independent Social Scientist
Let us roll a dice and guess who is more lucky: Abbas, tortured and burnt to death for allegedly blasphemy, or Rimsha who may survive death but will forever be scarred for being nearly sentenced to death on similar charges? Some will probably consider the young Christian girl lucky, compared to Abbas and scores of others who suffered under the archaic blasphemy law.
The country’s blasphemy law is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas. As the case of 14-year-old Christian Rimsha Masih gains global attention, why have politicians failed to act?
By: Mohammed Hanif
Fourteen years ago, around the time young Rimsha Masih, now in jail under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, was born, a Roman Catholic bishop walked into a courthouse in Sahiwal, quite close to my hometown in Central Punjab. The Right Rev John Joseph was no ordinary clergyman; he was the first native bishop in Pakistan and the first ever Punjabi bishop anywhere in the world. He was also a brilliant and celebrated community organiser, the kind of man oppressed communities look up to as a role model. Joseph walked in alone, asking a junior priest to wait outside the courthouse. Inside the court, he took out a handgun and shot himself in the head. The bullet in his head was his protest against the court’s decision to sentence a fellow Christian, Ayub Masih, to death for committing blasphemy. Masih had been charged with arguing with a Muslim co-worker over religious matters. The exact content of the conversation cannot be repeated here because that would be blasphemous. The bishop had campaigned long and hard to get the blasphemy law repealed without any luck. He wrote prior to his death: “I shall count myself extremely fortunate if in this mission of breaking the barriers, our Lord accepts the sacrifice of my blood for the benefit of his people.”
Joseph had been pursuing another case, in which an 11-year-old, Salamat Masih, along with his father and uncle, was accused of scribbling something blasphemous on the wall of the mosque. We don’t really know what he wrote, because reproducing it, here or in court, would constitute blasphemy.
The boy’s uncle, Manzoor Masih, was shot dead during the trial. The Masih case went to the high court, where a judge, Arif Bhatti, applied common sense and released him. A year later the judge was murdered in his own chambers, and his killers claimed that the judge had committed blasphemy by freeing those accused in the blasphemy case.
Frustrated and in a fit of rage, the bishop meditated and reached the conclusion that he should kill himself publicly to make his point.
You could argue that Joseph should have organised candlelight vigils, gone on a hunger strike, hired better lawyers. But he had tried everything and realised that a bullet in the head in the middle of a court was his only way to draw attention to this colossal absurdity called blasphemy law.
He was wrong. The law stayed. Many more Christians were killed.
There are situations though, where confronted with the prospect of a 14-year-old being sentenced to death, as a celebrated community leader you can’t do anything but take a gun to your head.
And hope for the best.
By: Shivam Vij
In neighbouring Pakistan, an Islamic cleric recently accused a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, of blasphemy, a charge punishable by life imprisonment. He said she had burnt some pages that contained verses from the Quran. The 14 year old girl hails from a poor family and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. An eyewitness to the event showed courage and told a magistrate the truth: it was the Muslim cleric who had put those burnt pages in Rimsha’s bag. The cleric has been arrested and is set, in turn, to be charged with blasphemy.
I have been thinking about the incident. Insulting somebody’s religion is bad. It may cause offence. Often it is intended to cause offence. If somebody insults Islam, by doing things like burning pages containing verses from the Quran, it is bound to outrage a Muslim.But what happens when the Muslim has burnt those pages to implicate a Christian? Where does the outrage disappear? Why are the right-wingers and the mullahs in Pakistan suddenly silent? The cleric’s lawyer had threatened the judge that if the girl is let off she could be lynched – such was the outrage! Where has the outrage suddenly disappeared? Where are the calls for lynching the blasphemer to death?
And what does this hypocrisy tell us? It tells us that such outrage is, in the first place, fake. That their religious sentiments weren’t really hurt when they said they were hurt. It was just that they wanted to persecute Christians and for doing so they were happy to commit blasphemy that they could then accuse Christians of doing!
What does that tell you of the claims of such people over how strong their religious, nationalist or whatever “sentiments” are?
I have noticed several such incidents in both Pakistan and India in the recent past. Let me give you a few examples.
By: Tahir Gora
The arrest of 11-year-or-so-old Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, in Pakistan in connection with the blasphemy charges has shocked the world but not Pakistan and majority Pakistanis.
For instance, a Pakistani Canadian from Mississauga, Ontario Canada wrote on the Internet in the wake of this senseless arrest, “Lets fight against the terrorism of USA and support the cause of AAFIA SIDDIQUE (a Pakistani lady convicted and jailed in the USA for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan)”, he stated further, “I am 100% sure that nothing will happen to the girl (Rimsha) and she will be released, not to worry.”
While undermining the arrest of poor little Rimsha and provoking dispute in Aafia conviction case, that Pakistani-Canadian fellow completely forgot that a Pakistani Christian lady, Asia Bibi, a mother of five is still behind the bars. She received a sentence of death by a Pakistani court in connection of Blasphemy Law in November 2010.
A Pakistani imam has been remanded in custody, accused of planting pages of the Koran among burnt pages in the bag of a Christian girl held for blasphemy.
The girl was detained two weeks ago near the capital Islamabad after an angry mob demanded she be punished.
Imam Khalid Chishti allegedly told a witness that this was a “way of getting rid of Christians”, a prosecutor said.
The girl, named as Rimsha, is said to be about 14 and to have learning difficulties.
The case has sparked international condemnation.
Earlier this week, a court extended Rimsha’s detention at a maximum-security prison by a further two weeks.
Her father has said he fears for his daughter’s life and for the safety of his family. He has called on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to pardon her.
Prayer leader arrested for fabricating evidence in Rimsha Masih case
By Web Desk
RAWALPINDI: Police have arrested prayer leader Khalid Jadoon on charges of fabricating evidence, which he had used to accuse Rimsha Masih of committing blasphemy by allegedly burning Quranic pages, Express News reported early on Sunday.
Express News correspondent Qamarul Munawar said that Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, who witnessed Jadoon adding pages of the Quran, recorded a statement with the Rawalpindi magistrate on Saturday.
According to Zubair’s account, he was sitting in Iteqaaf in the mosque when some people handed burnt pages to the prayer leader. After a little while, Jadoon added additional pages of the Quran to the pile.
Zubair, in his statement added that three other people present with him in the mosque asked Jadoon why he was adding documents to the pile of burnt paper, to which prayer leader said that such an act was necessary to strengthen their case.
Munawar reported that Islamabad police has now arrested Jadoon who are now questioning him.
Rimsha has been in custody since she was arrested more than two weeks ago accused of burning Quranic papers, in breach of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. According to medical reports Rimsha is 14 year old minor, and has a mental age below her real age.
Courtesy: The Express Tribune
By Khaled Ahmed
The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence
A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.
According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.
Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.
The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.