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Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan: Make them better if not change them

October 4, 2012

The paper reproduced below suggesting procedural changes in the ‘blasphemy laws’ is published here with permission from the author Amer Nadeem, Attorney at Law/ Legal Consultant; he has worked with various government organizations and NGOs on issues pertaining to human rights and has also initiated campaigns. Originally published December 19, 2010 at this blog.

This paper is based on compiling laws, reported cases and my personal experience as a lawyer engaged in a number of blasphemy cases and court proceedings. The suggestions contained here pertain to changes in procedure rather substantive laws, and can be helpful to prevent the innocent from being victimised by these laws, particularly the depressed and downtrodden sections of  society, including religious minority who are vulnerable to these laws. The essence of the law is always to reach the truth. Read more…


‘Blasphemy’: “There is a crisis of trans-cultural understanding”

October 3, 2012

The political leadership has learnt one lesson: if the cleric takes to the street, back out, says Dr Mohammad Waseem, Professor of Political Science at LUMS. Interview by Farah Zia in The News on Sunday (TNS) Special Report on ‘Understanding 9/21’, September 30, 2012, reproduced below:

The News on Sunday: Historically, it appears as if the failure of mainstream secular progressive politics in Pakistan has been simultaneous with the rise of political Islam. Do you see a connection there and whether one has led to the other?

Dr Mohammad Waseem: I don’t think so. I think Islamism came in three or four major stages. First was independence itself; partition was carried out in the name of Islam. So the state was obliged to look for legitimacy in religion all the time; otherwise it felt there was no justification for creating a separate country. So religion came on top of all other political elements. Read more…

Pakistan – Tolerance and Blasphemy Laws

October 3, 2012

By Ali Salman Alvi (Software Engineer by profession, a writer and peace activist. Twitter: @alisalmanalvi)

This article was published on Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Daily Times

Over the years, attempts to amend the statute have aggravated rigid opposition from religious parties and invited threats of bloodshed from militant groups

Our history is witness to the fact that on the planet earth we have no competitor when it comes to self-torment and making an exhibition of ourselves, thanks to our unparalleled expertise in shooting ourselves in the foot. No foreign agency — be it RAW or MOSSAD — has the potential to inflict even an iota of the damage we can inflict on ourselves, that too, quite voluntarily. Just when the world thinks we have hit rock bottom, we shock it by stooping to new depths of insanity. Be it the barbarous public lynching of two brothers in Sialkot that left us with our heads hung in shame or the deplorable murder of the governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer by his own security guard and the subsequent glorification of the killer as a hero of Islam, we never cease to stoop low. In July this year, a mob of more than 2,000 enraged people snatched a mentally unstable man accused of burning pages from the Holy Quran from police custody and burnt him alive in Chanighot area of Bahawalpur. I feel sorry for the psychiatrists who try to look into the reasons behind our intolerant behaviour of going violent on little things since this mental disorder of ours is not only incomprehensible, it is rather incurable. How did torching that man strengthen Islam? What purpose has it served? Where is this frenzy driving us? What message are we sending to the world? We better figure it out sooner rather than later.

Read more…

Signature campaign calling on the Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay to encourage withdrawal of complaints against Indian Rationalist Sanal Edamaruku

October 3, 2012

Please join the Rationalist Association (UK) in condemning the misuse of Indian law by several Catholic organisations to silence a campaigner against superstition. In March 2012, following his exposure of a supposed miracle at a Catholic Church in Mumbai as nothing more than the result of a leak, a complaint was lodged against Sanal Edamaruku by local Catholic organisations with the Mumbai police, who are now able to arrest him. He has been denied ‘anticipatory’ bail which means if arrested he faces a long term in prison merely for explaining the science behind an apparent mystery.

Sanal Edamaruku, President of the Indian Rationalist Association, has for decades been a tireless campaigner for science and against superstition. He is widely known for his exposure of the tricks used by self-professed ‘God-Men’ and gurus and has often been on Indian television explaining the everyday science behind supposed miracles.

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پاکستان میں توہینِ مذہب کا قانون

September 27, 2012

اسد احمد

ایسوسی ایٹ پروفیسر، ڈپارٹمنٹ آف انتھروپولوجی، ہاورڈ یونیورسٹی

(یہ مضمون بی بی سی اردو کی ویب سائٹ پر شائع کیا گیا تھا)

تعزیراتِ پاکستان کی دفعہ دو سو پچانوے سی جسے عرفِ عام میں توہینِ مذہب یا توہینِ رسالت کا قانون کہا جاتا ہے ربع صدی سے نافذ ہے۔

اس قانون کی تازہ شکار وہ بارہ سالہ بچی ہے جو کہ اخباری اطلاعات کے مطابق ڈاؤن سنڈروم کا شکار ہے اور اس پر قرآنی قاعدے کے صفحات نذرِ آتش کرنے کا الزام لگا ہے جو بظاہر ایک غلطی لگتی ہے۔

Read more…

‘Pakistan Must Repeal Its Blasphemy Laws’

September 14, 2012

Article published in the Huffington Post, September 13, 2012

Farahnaz Ispahani

Hyderabad: Pakistani Christians protest in support of Rimsha Masih

Nina Shea  and

In Pakistan, proceedings in the now infamous blasphemy case of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old, mentally disabled Christian girl, took a turn for the better after the powerful Muslim Ulema Council backed her against the accuser. Last Saturday, Rimsha, jailed since August 16, was released on bail pending a court investigation into whether there is any evidence that she actually did burn pages of a Qur’an while sweeping out an Islamabad neighborhood school. Rimsha was taken away from jail in an armored vehicle to a helicopter, demonstrating the extent of the threat of violence from Pakistani extremists. Rimsha Masih will not be in the courtroom for the trial, which is scheduled to start tomorrow, September 14. Read more…

Tahirul Qadri’s lies about his views on the ‘blasphemy law’

September 13, 2012

Please view this six minute video, featuring clips of Tahir ul Qadri blatantly lying to an interviewer on Danish television about his role and stand on the ‘blasphemy’ law. His words are  completely opposite to what he has said in Pakistan – reproduced here with English sub-titles. The most horrific aspect is his view that whoever violates this law should be ‘killed’ – he doesn’t say “charged, tried, and punished under due legal process” — but KILLED.

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