Yesterday I read an article in GeorgeTown Journal by Dawood I. Ahmed. The heading was “Let’s Give Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law a Break“. I was a little surprised by the headline as it didn’t make any sense,considering the rate at which Pakistanis are being targeted for ‘blasphemy’. I was more surprised that Campaign For Freedom Of Expression shared this post on their Facebook page.
I acknowledge that in many of these cases the story turns out to be something completely different,for example, in the case of Rimsha Masih it turned out that the local imam, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, was involved in planting pages of religious texts in Rimsha’s bag. It’s safe to say that most of the time Pakistan’s blasphemy law is used by individuals for their own personal vendetta. But not always.
Recently a visiting lecturer of English Department of Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan was accused of blasphemy. Apparently he allegedly made some supposedly offensive remarks on social media. The BZU administration cancelled the admission and hostel allotment of the accused and a ban was imposed on his entry. He has fled in fear of his life. Meanwhile, the Alpa Police arrested the accused from the Sahiwal area while he was traveling to Lahore. Police sources said that a blasphemy case has been registered against him.Tehreek Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat (TTNR) took out a rally against the accused and called for his immediate arrest and execution and they threatened the Pakistani government that if their demands are not met out they will take the law in their own hands.
Very few media outlets covered this story ,almost all of them portrayed the story with headlines such as “Anger Boiling Over Govt. Inaction” except LUBP, their headline was “Islamofascists of Jamat Islami initiate blasphemy case against a university teacher in Multan“.
The person who is accused of blasphemy in this case is named Junaid Hafeez. He was serving his country by teaching when he could have been anywhere in Europe living a good life and earning ten times more. This is how Pakistan and it’s people repay individuals who choose to serve their country. The fact that some people think that their fucking offended feelings are more important than somebody’s life enrages me to the point at which I want to blaspheme as much as I can. But I try to be civil and argue. So here’s the argument:
How can we even think about giving a break to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws? I acknowledge that mobs don’t need a blasphemy law to carry out violence but such a law only legalises their behavior. In the past we have seen Pakistani politico-religious parties openly supporting an assassin,Mumtaz Qadri. Yes he didn’t need the law to pull the trigger but the trigger was pulled because Salmaan Taseer proposed changes in the law. That was all he needed to pull the trigger. He knew he would be supported by good many people. He knew he was going to be showered with petals. He knew his country will not fail him. Sadly,Salmaan Taseer thought the same. He never knew that his own bodyguard will shoot him for only proposing changes in the blasphemy law. Taseer’s expections were that his nation wouldn’t fail him. Unfortunately,most of his nation decided to side with his assassin who is still alive after shooting his own boss. Now,on the other hand more recently,we have the case of Junaid Hafeez,where Islamists are demanding his execution. The question is,how could the penalty for writing something supposedly offensive on a social networking site be more severe than killing a Governor?
Blasphemy is a victimless crime. Junaid Hafeez didn’t harm anyone. Even if he made ‘blasphemous’ remarks,so what? Are we still stuck in Dark Ages,where the littlest reason used to be enough to take somebody’s life,even if sponsored by the State? The answer is,yes we are.
Blasphemy law is one of those many things that is keeping us anchored in Dark Ages. Every Pakistani individual,regardless of their religion,should speak against Pakistan’s blasphemy law because speaking is what Junaid Hafeez,Salmaan Taseer and many others have been targeted for and this will only continue if Pakistanis decided to stay quiet. You don’t have to be an atheist,Ahmadi,Shia,Christian or Hindu to be prosecuted under the blasphemy law. Until such a law exists,people will continue to be silenced because a bunch of violent men in turbans have “offended feelings”.
I know we live in a people-pleasing world,but I’d rather speak what I think is right rather than nod my head in agreement to what I think is wrong and if that offends somebody’s feelings,well,too fucking bad.
What is real blasphemy?
To live on the unpaid labor of other men — that is blasphemy.
To enslave your fellow-man, to put chains upon his body — that is blasphemy.
To enslave the minds of men, to put manacles upon the brain, padlocks upon the lips — that is blasphemy.
To deny what you believe to be true, to admit to be true what you believe to be a lie — that is blasphemy.
To strike the weak and unprotected, in order that you may gain the applause of the ignorant and superstitious mob — that is blasphemy.
To persecute the intelligent few, at the command of the ignorant many — that is blasphemy.
To forge chains, to build dungeons, for your honest fellow-men — that is blasphemy.
To pollute the souls of children with the dogma of eternal pain — that is blasphemy.
To violate your conscience — that is blasphemy.
The jury that gives an unjust verdict, and the judge who pronounces an unjust sentence, are blasphemers.
The man who bows to public opinion against his better judgment and against his honest conviction, is a blasphemer.
– American 19th Century Freethinker-Robert Ingersoll