Tag Archives: repeal

Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

Pakistani activists alarmed by threats to minorities

The US has said that it is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges. It also expressed satisfaction, however, about President Asif Ali Zardari’s action to probe the case.

On Monday, when Pakistani Muslims were busy celebrating the Islamic Eid festival, hundreds of Christian families living in the low-income Mehrabad neighborhood of the Pakistani capital Islamabad were forced to leave the homes where they had been living for more than two decades.

The Christians feared that they would be attacked by the majority Muslim community after Rimsha, a Christian girl aged between 10 and 13, allegedly burnt pages with the verses from the Koran inscribed on them. The incident took place last Thursday and Rimsha was later taken into custody by the Pakistani police.

The angry Muslims of the neighborhood, which is only a 20-minute drive from Western embassies in Islamabad, immediately demanded that she be punished for her “sin.”

According to some media reports, the girl was burning papers that she collected from a rubbish pile for cooking when some Muslims entered her house and accused her of burning the Islamic text. Pakistani officials have claimed the girl suffers from Down’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing major learning disabilities.

On Monday, the US State Department took serious note of the girl’s arrest. “This case is obviously deeply disturbing,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, adding that the US government was encouraged by President Zardari’s move to order the interior ministry to submit a report on the case.

“We think that the president’s statement is very welcome, and we urge the government of Pakistan to protect not just its religious minority citizens but also women and girls,” Nuland said.

Religious discrimination is widespread

Religious discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a new occurrence but it has increased considerably in recent years. Pakistan’s liberal sections are alarmed by the growing influence of right-wing Islamists in their country.

Rights activists complain that the Islamists enjoy state patronage, while on the other hand liberal and progressive voices have to face the wrath of the country’s security agencies.

Rights organizations also point out to the legal discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, which, in their opinion, is one the major causes of maltreatment of Pakistani minority groups.

President Zardari’s PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government has recently come under sharp criticism from the country’s rights organizations and the West for refusing to reform the anti-blasphemy laws despite the assassinations of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister, and Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab province.

Controversial anti-blasphemy laws

The two politicians were brutally murdered by Islamists in 2011 because they had dared to speak out against the controversial laws, which were introduced by the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Many rights activists say they have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes.

Farooq Sulehria, a London-based activist and journalist, told DW that they should be immediately repealed. “But I doubt that in the absence of a working-class struggle in Pakistan, any government will be forced to do it.”

Mohsin Sayeed, a journalist in Karachi, said the laws were “un-Islamic.”

“The anti-blasphemy laws should be abolished because they have nothing to do with Islam. We have been demanding their repeal for a long time. This demand has met with a fierce reaction from religious extremists, who are no more a marginalized group in Pakistan,” Sayeed told DW.

He also criticized the Pakistani judiciary for its alleged sympathetic behavior toward the right-wing. “Asia Bibi is still languishing in jail, while Mumtaz Qadri (Taseer’s assassin), is still alive,” he said.

‘Intolerance is becoming mainstream’

There have also been reports of hundreds of members of the Hindu community trading Pakistan for India, citing mistreatment, discrimination and persecution in their homeland as reasons.

Continue reading Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

The International Day Against State Religion

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. – Frederick Douglass

By Ghulam Mustafa Lakho

The best constitutional, non-violent and peaceful way to win the right of EQUAL CITIZENSHIP is to DEMAND repeal of the STATE RELIGION from the Constitution. I have the honor to propose “INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.” Let us fix the 11th day of August as “INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.” I hope that the foundation of such Day (IDASR) will set individuals and groups in motion to openly express their views against the State Religion. Let us urge all the countries of Europe and all the other civilized nations around the world including United Nations to recognize this DAY.

Read more : INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION

Pakistan: Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling. It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling. – – Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial. …

Read more : Human Rights Watch