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.
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.
Two-year-old Wang Yue was run over by two cars last Thursday in a market in the southern province of Guangdong. Closed-circuit television footage of 18 people walking past her body without helping her has ignited outrage both inside China and worldwide. ….
Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of physical and mental torture in schools, religious seminaries and homes: SPARC
QUETTA: Organised criminal gangs are using thousands of children as sex workers across the country, a workshop on children’s rights organised by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) was informed on Friday.
Muhammad Hanif Panezai, the chief of SPARC’s Balochistan chapter, said a survey had revealed that thousands of children were being used as sex workers at bus and truck stands and railway stations.
“Internet cafes and videogames’ shops are also being used for the purpose,” he said, adding that men belonging to several criminal networks remain present at these places to trap children and later use them as sex workers,” Mr Panezai said.
The Programme Manager of SPARC’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, Mr Imran Khan Takkar, said a survey had revealed that 80 per cent of 1.5 million street children in Pakistan were victims of sexual abuse.
He said that organised criminal networks were using children to make pornographic material and later blackmailing them to commit heinous crimes, including suicide bombings. ….