The barbaric murder of Jagdeesh Kumar, accused of blasphemy by some of his workmates at a garment factory in Karachi, brings out in sharp focus once again the exposed and vulnerable situation of non-Muslims in a Pakistan still wedded to the legacy of General Zia-ul-Haq.When the police finally intervened, the body of the 22-year-old victim had been mutilated and disfigured beyond recognition: among other things the eyes had been gouged out. The reports published indicate that he was a quiet man, from a poverty-stricken Hindu family belonging to some obscure village in the Sindh desert. People with such a depressed and vulnerable background come to factories to eek out a miserable living, not to engage in religious controversies. In the days and weeks ahead, we will learn that some petty personal quarrel or irrational hatred of a Hindu was the real reason for his murder.What happened in Karachi was reminiscent of the lynching of African-Americans by white racists in the southern states of the US as late as the early 20th century. Until those laws were changed, black men and women were killed for the flimsiest of reasons. I remember one story when a white shopkeeper took out his gun and shot dead an old black man, who for years had been delivering merchandise to him, when an altercation took place between that man and a white man who had come to the shop for the first time. The white shopkeeper sided with a complete stranger, because the race laws had conditioned him to react in that way. Anyone who follows the news from Pakistan and reads the reports published regularly by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan would find that violence and brutality against non-Muslims increased exponentially after the blasphemy law was imposed in 1982 and reformulated in 1986. The connection between law and social behaviour is a well-established fact and, quite simply, bad, intolerant and violence-inducing laws produce malevolent behaviour among members of society. Let me quote both the relevant texts on blasphemy in Pakistan:
In 1982, Section 295-B was inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code. It reads: "Defiling, etc., of The Holy Quran: Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom, or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life."
In 1986, Section 295-C was added. It stated: "Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet: Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."
Those who are familiar with legal expressions and jargon will have no difficulty in understanding that the wordings of the two laws furnish an easy excuse for accusing a person of blasphemy. What can be a matter of at most a spirited discussion on religion and religious icons among educated people can easily be interpreted by illiterates as blasphemy if they discuss religion.
More important, perhaps, is to figure out what purpose these laws are supposed to help realise. If the purpose is to make people, presumably non-Muslims, respect Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), then such an intention is premised on a singularly flawed psychological theory and approach.
Fear induces submission and despondency, not respect. In situations when fear and threats surround the lives of people, they resort to dissimulation and become hypocrites: thinking and believing one thing but saying and doing something else. On the other hand, respect and admiration for someone or some belief is gained voluntarily. It has to come from the heart and cannot be extracted under duress.
There are many non-Muslims who have written laudatory texts on Islam and the life of the Holy Prophet. Recently Karen Armstrong has written his biography which is highly sympathetic. She must have done this by studying his life and finding him praiseworthy. Fear would never have induced such writing.
On the other hand, if the purpose of the blasphemy laws is to terrorise non-Muslims to either convert to Islam or force them out of the country, then the question is: is such an objective compatible with the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees that minorities shall live in peace and security in Pakistan?
One can argue that even if the intention of adopting the blasphemy laws was to establish respect for Islam and the Prophet and not to terrorise non-Muslims, the overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence abundantly shows that the unintended consequences of the law have been just the opposite. Time and again some Christian or Hindu accused of blasphemy has either been mercilessly killed by a fanatic or a bunch of such people – without ever being punished for breaking the law and committing murder – or subjected to a draconian legal process in which the lower courts almost invariably found him guilty; but the higher courts either acquitted him or commuted his punishment to a lighter sentence.
Now, when a civilian, democratic government is in power, it is time to begin a discussion on the Hudood and blasphemy laws. We must realise that as long as people have different religions and beliefs they are bound to discuss and debate them. In such circumstances the role of the government should be to provide people with a sound education so that they can develop the sensibilities to respect each others' identity and convictions while engaging in debate and controversy. It was very encouraging to read columns in the Pakistani English-language press against this latest manifestation of mob frenzy. It is important that our colleagues in the Urdu media also come out strongly against such brazen acts of inhumanity. Some petitions condemning Jagdeesh Kumar's murder have also been put up on the Internet for signatures. All this is indicative of another type of Pakistan.The writer is a professor of political science and a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. REFERENCE: Blasphemy and persecution by Ishtiaq Ahmed Saturday, April 26, 2008 http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=108906
And the same Jang Group and GEO TV now says this!
Jang Group is very "Fond Of" quoting Judges and Judiciary, now read what a Judge say about the Misuse of this Law.
NEED TO CHECK MISUSE OF BLASPHEMY LAW BY QAZI FAEZ ISA -"As it was the unanimous demand of the Ulema, Mashaikh and the people, therefore, I have decided to do away with the procedural change in registration of FIR under the blasphemy law" (General Musharraf, Dawn 17.5.2000).How was public opinion determined? No one asked me! Is the reference to ulema and mashaikh to the self-proclaimed ones or men and women of Islamic learning? And did populism prevail over Islam? Why was no attempt made to enter into a debate, or at least a learned Islamic discourse? What was the role of the two ministers (religious affairs and law) who are primarily concerned with this issue? One does not recollect any valuable contribution from these two sources.
The sad fact is that deterioration has set in every aspect of national life. The most acute realization of this is felt whenever there is any interaction with the government. There is no substitute for learning and debate, and we are managing to do without either and consequently suffer. The government seems to have decided for all of us that in Pakistan 2000 our exposure to Islam is to be funnelled through the myopic, self-styled 'guides', whose principal contribution has been spreading hatred and attacking the foundations of the state. No attention is being paid to the true learned men and women of Islam, because unlike the camp which propagates violence in achieving their goals, these true Muslims do not make even a feeble attempt to be heard.
Pampering this group does not serve the cause of Islam, is contrary to shariat and departs from the methodology adopted by Jinnah and those who devotedly worked for attaining this homeland.
There is no substitute for knowledge, dialogue and niyat (intention). Let us learn a lesson from history. My father, Qazi Muhammad Isa, who was principally responsible for bringing Balochistan into the fold of Pakistan, was a member of the Balochistan Law Reform Commission. The other members included Balochistan's governor, Amir-ul-Mulk Mengal, and Mr Fazle Ghani Khan.These gentlemen informed me how my father had handled a potentially explosive situation.
The Balochistan Law Reform Commission made visits to a number of different places to gather public opinion. On a visit to a traditional-conservative Pathan area they were accosted by the elders and ulema who demanded the enforcement of shariat and objected to the work of the Commission, which was perceived by them to be anti-shariat. It transpired that the local Pathans had taken strong exception to recording the names of their womenfolk on the recently introduced national identity cards. This according to them was un-Islamic and therefore unacceptable. My father inquired whether the delegation would be kind enough to enlighten him about the names of Islam's first convert and wife of the Prophet (PBUH) and the Prophet's daughter married to Hazrat Ali.Hazrat Khadija and Hazrat Fatima was the prompt answer. Upon hearing this, my father inquired whether the names of these distinguished ladies could be taken if Islam was against this practice. The delegation fell silent and abandoned their objection to the name insertion in the identity cards.
They then said "zhumz shariat ghoaru" ('we want shariat') and not "Angrezi qanoon" (English law). My father responded that the Commission could report this desire and wanted the delegation to help them. He suggested that this could be done if the delegation was prepared to abandon certain prevailing but un-Islamic practices. He advised that they should waive accumulated usury which was due to them (Pathans being notorious and usurious moneylenders), stop the cultivation and trade in intoxicants (opium and hashish) and recognize the shares of mothers, widows and daughters in inheritance. (Men divide the ladies' shares among themselves and the revenue records of these and many rural areas of the country, reveal the virtual absence of a female population). The delegation immediately backtracked saying that this was not possible because these were their established tribal practices and had been validated by jirga.
On being asked whether they wanted the endorsement of jirga practices contrary to shariat, the delegation beat a hasty retreat never to be seen or heard of again.
Knowledge and reason were subsequently to prevail upon superstition and exploitation. The light of enlightenment vanquished the darkness of ignorance. Men of peace achieved this, men who adhered to Quaid's ideals and men who did not command armies.
In contrast, an all-powerful government, having been granted by the Supreme Court the power to amend the Constitution, failed to effect, what from a legal perspective was an insignificant amendment in the law. The amendment which the government wanted to bring about was that any report of an offence of blasphemy should in the future be made to the district magistrate and not at the police station.
A practice of settling personal vendettas by lodging false reports of offence of blasphemy (Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code) against a person or persons intended to be harmed has developed. The fact that in Pakistan lodging of such FIRs has become matter of frequent occurrence confirms the misuse of this provision of the law. Needless to stress that in a predominantly Muslim country any derogatory or disrespectful remark about the Prophet (PBUH) is unthinkable. Only one bereft of any reason or sense could risk inviting society's wrath and possibly worse by indulging in any such sacrilegious utterances.
To check false allegations of blasphemy from being made and Islam wrongly exploited for vendetta or for settling personal scores, which is anathema to a (true) Muslim, it was essential that the power of the police to entertain an FIR be curtailed. In advocating such a change General Musharraf was not acting against the interest of Islam. Undoubtedly, he was well intentioned but perhaps did not have the requisite support from his team to counteract the agitators. Occupying ministerial positions but bereft of vision and knowledge they could only advise an expedient retreat.
The action could only encourage the tendency to use religion to harass and persecute one's enemies and rivals.
The insistence on retaining the jurisdiction of the police in preference to that of the district magistrate, who is a more senior member of the administration, is incomprehensible. Unless those agitating against the proposed amendment were doing so because they considered police stations more malleable and amenable to pressure and inducement and, therefore, were ideally suited to their questionable purpose and interests. Is our government so out of touch that it does not realize that the poor, the rich, the Muslim, the Christian, the literate, the illiterate, citizens of Pakistan, if they are united in a view, it is that Pakistani police stations are dens of inequity, and not citadels which best preserve Islamic values.
The maximum punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan is death, or imprisonment for life, and also fine. There is no discretion for imposing a lesser sentence. The process which may result in the passing of this sentence commences upon the lodging of an FIR in a police station, often on payment of a bribe, and in many cases without a shred of evidence, except the word of a self-described alim. There is no punishment prescribed for lodging a false report.
Eminent ulema have over the centuries written copiously on the subject. They have deliberated on whether blasphemy (insulting the Holy Prophet, sabb al-Rasool) without an element of apostasy (repudiation of Islam, sabb Allah, riddah) is an offence in Islam. They have considered the significance of the Prophet (PBUH) not acting against those who renounced Islam and vilified and defamed him. Included among these were Abd Allah b. Abi Sarh, Ikramah b. Abi Jahl, Safwan b. Umayyah, and Hinda, the wife of Abu Sufyan. A writer on the subject states that, "some Jews also addressed the Prophet with the words, 'death be upon you, (al-sam alaykum), but, in none of the reports did the Prophet order any punishment." They have thus determined that the offence is not hadd (ordained by God) but tazir. Imam Abu Hanifah maintained that a dhimmi (non-Muslim) is not liable to the death punishment for the offence of blasphemy.
Islam is a religion which stands for peace and insists on justice. God almighty advised the Holy Prophet and early believers to develop their inner resources through patience and resilience. "Quite a number of the people of the Book wish they could turn you back to infidelity after ye have believed - from (their) selfish envy, after the Truth hath become manifest unto them, but forgive and overlook" (surah Al-Baqarah, verse 109). A commentator on this verse says: "It teaches that the success of Islam had naturally made the un-believers insecure and envious, and that under such circumstances a punitive approach would not produce the desired result". "And ye shall certainly hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship partners besides Allah. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil - then that indeed is a matter of great resolution (the best course with which to determine your affairs)" (surah Al-Imran, verse 186).
It is noteworthy that the law in its present form does not consider the question of repentance. Is this Islamic? "The Hanafis and the majority of the Shafis consider blasphemy to be in the same category as apostasy and have ruled that repentance is admissible in both cases. Thus, the blasphemer, like the apostate, is to be asked for repentance on three consecutive days, which will be counted from the time of conviction" (Freedom of Expression in Islam by Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali).
And the same Jang Group publish this in its English Version i.e. The News International
Jang Group of Newspapers, particularly Mr. Ansar Abbasi through GEO TV created a Hate Campaign against Late. Mr. Salman Taseer which paved the way for his murder but the same Jang Group publish this as well "against" Blasphemy Law. Go through as to what The News (Jang Group) published in English and compare it with the Hate Campaign by GEO TV (Urdu Language TV Channel of Jang Group) against Late. Salman Taseer.
The recent awarding of the death penalty to a Christian woman on charges of blasphemy has sparked a debate in the country on the need to review the blasphemy laws. In a number of Muslim countries, blasphemy is dealt under state law. Article 156 (a) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code forbids “anyone from deliberately, in public, expressing feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt against religions with the purpose of preventing others from adhering to any religion” and forbids “anyone from disgracing a religion.” The maximum penalty for violating Article 156 (a) is five years’ imprisonment.
Our blasphemy laws dates back to the original 1860 Indian Penal Code in which Articles 295 and 298 were inserted, keeping in view the religious sensitivities of the inhabitants of the subcontinent. Blasphemy was not an offence punishable with death. Besides, the sections shared universal application and did not refer exclusively to one faith. These provisions also required malicious intention integral to the offence concerned. In 1927 the law was amended to incorporate clause 295-A which reads: “Whoever with deliberate intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens… by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, insults the religion or the religious beliefs of that class… shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or both.” Later, after independence, the term of punishment was increased up to ten years. Zia-ul-Haq added new provisions in the form of 195-B, 295-C, 298-A and blasphemy under Section 295-C became an offence punishable by death.
The wording of the blasphemy law in Article 295-C is vague and ambiguous. According to Section 295-C, any person who, “by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the name of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is liable to be punished with the death sentence or imprisonment.” Here the element of “ill-will” or malicious intention has been disregarded.
In October 1990, the Federal Shariat Court ruled that the “penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)… is death and nothing else.” The ruling also noted that “no one after the Holy Prophet (PBUH)… exercised or was authorised the right to reprieve and pardon.” The FSC also directed the court to remove the punishment of “life imprisonment” for the offence of blasphemy under 295-C. The bill in this respect was passed by the Senate but could not be approved by the National Assembly. In 1993 a bill was introduced in parliament to extend the scope of 295-C by including the words “the names of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) companions and family members,” but no legislative enactment could be effected in this regard.
It is not uncommon for the accusers to be motivated by religious bigotry, personal prejudices, selfish gain or professional rivalry. Prosecution often relies on unsubstantiated oral testimony of the complainants. The offence has been made cognisable and non-bailable. Ill-treatment and torture in police custody are commonplace. The judicial proceedings are protracted and the judges presiding over the proceedings of the case are given death threats and intimidated by local clerics. In October 1997, Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti was murdered because he had acquitted two men accused of blasphemy. In the present state, blasphemy laws in Pakistan can be and are easily misused. The provision of capital punishment for blasphemy without the strictest possible safeguards is inimical to the fundamental rights of minorities. A democratic evolution of the country requires a level playing field for all groups inhabiting the land, irrespective of differences of caste, colour, creed and religion. If the PPP government wants to prove its credentials of a liberal party, it must take the initiative to rectify this state of affairs. REFERENCE: Blasphemy laws Wednesday, December 15, 2010 Nauman Asghar http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=20414&Cat=9&dt=1/4/2011
And now read the very same Jang Group
I wonder how would The Zealots in The News International, Daily Jang and GEO TV justify these acts in the name of Blasphemy Law
MULTAN, Jan 11: A court has jailed a prayer leader and his 20-year-old son for life on blasphemy charges in the rural heartland of the country, court officials said on Tuesday. The case follows the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer by his bodyguard last week, after he called for reform of the blasphemy law under which a Christian woman was sentenced to death. Mohammad Shafi, 45, and his son Mohammad Aslam, 20, were arrested in April last year for removing a poster outside their grocery shop promoting a religious event in a nearby village. The poster allegedly carried Quranic verses. Judge Mohammad Ayub, heading an anti-terrorism court in Muzaffargarh, handed down a life sentence to the pair on Monday, his assistant Faisal Karim said by telephone. According to the prosecution, the organisers of the event marking the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said the pair had “pulled the poster down, tore it and trampled it under their feet,” Mr Karim said. “The judge sentenced them to life imprisonment on charges of blasphemy and ordered them to pay a fine of Rs200,000 each,” he said. Defence counsel Arif Gurmani vowed to challenge the verdict in the high court because “it has been given in haste” and was the result of inter-sect rivalries, he said. “Both are Muslims. The case is the result of differences between Deobandi and Barelvi sects of Sunni Muslims,” he said. “Shafi is a practising Muslim, he is the imam of a mosque and he had recently returned from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia… I am defending them because I am convinced they are not guilty of blasphemy,” he said. Nobody has been executed in Pakistan for blasphemy and those given the death penalty have so far had their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal.—AFP REFERENCE: Court jails imam and son for blasphemy From the Newspaper Yesterday http://www.dawn.com/2011/01/12/court-jails-imam-and-son-for-blasphemy.html
BAHAWALPUR, June 15: A mosque Imam was killed while a religious leader sustained critical injuries in violence caused reportedly by sectarian tension between two Sunni sects in Choonawala Mandi near Hasilpur, about 90km from here, on Thursday. According to reports reaching here, the trouble started when Hafiz Qamar Javed, prayer leader at local Masjid Ahl-e-Hadith, burnt some trash near his mosque. The fire attracted neighbours, including people from the rival sect, who propagated that Javed was burning pages from Quran. Within no time a huge mob turned up at the scene and attacked Javed. When Ahl-e-Hadith’s local leader Master Muhammad Sadiq came to his rescue, he was also beaten up severely. The assailants left the scene when the two fell unconscious. Police rushed to the scene after getting information. In a hurry, a police vehicle hit and injured Muhammad Nadeem (13). The mob then damaged the van and thrashed ASI Muhammad Nawaz, who also sustained injuries. Later, the Hasilpur DSP and tehsil nazim reached Choonawala and managed to disperse the mob. The injured were rushed to the Bahawal Victoria Hospital, Bahawalpur, where Hafiz Qamar Javed succumbed to injuries while Master Muhammad Sadiq was in precarious condition. Following an appeal, Choonawala traders’ president, shopkeepers pulled down their shutters to protest the ‘blasphemous act’. Meanwhile, it was learnt that a case under the Blasphemy Act had been registered against deceased Hafiz Qamar Javed and injured Muhammad Sadiq while no case was registered against the assailants. DPO Arif Nawaz was not available for comments. REFERENCE: Imam lynched by mob for ‘blasphemy’ By Majeed Gill June 16, 2006 Friday Jumadi-ul-Awwal 19, 1427 http://archives.dawn.com/2006/06/16/nat10.htm
SAUDI (Muslim) FATWA AGAINST THE SCHOLARS (Muslim) OF DEOBAND AND DEOBANDIS (Muslim) - The Necessity For the Imaam To Have Correct Aqeedah Author: Shaikh Badee ud-Deen Shah as-Sindee (Pir Jhanda of Pakistan) Glimpses of some of the beliefs and practices of the Deobandite Hanafis which are not free from great deviations in Aqeedah, Tawheed and Manhaj. An excellent article. http://www.salafipublications.com/sps/downloads/pdf/GRV120001.pdf