06 May 2021 00:00:00 AM Breaking News
Muslim nurses took over a chapel and threatened to convert it to a mosqueEU concerned over Pakistan’s rising blasphemy casesPakistan retained as country of particular concern in USCIRF report Sindh Assembly passes resolution condemning blasphemous caricaturesImran Khan says insulting Mohammed should be same as denying HolocaustTwo Pakistani Christian nurses charged with blasphemy offencesMother of kidnapped 13-year-old accuses police of not finding her daughter Pakistan: CDA demolishes church in Islamabad during LentPakistan: Petition filed to make the death penalty the only punishment for blasphemy in the Pakistan Penal CodePakistan: Police force pastor and congregation to shut down Church Christian man granted bail after blasphemy accusations Christian Family attacked by a Muslim land grabber Protests erupt after inmate charged with blasphemyJudge issued certificate needed for religious conversion, parliamentary committee proposesPrime Minister’s aide says there is no concept of forced conversion in PakistanTwo Christians charged under blasphemy law for distributing Christian literature Sentence of 5-10 years’ jail being considered for those involved in forced conversionCommittee rejects Protection of the Rights of Religious Minorities (PRRM) Bill Pakistan: Christian staff nurse and gospel singer accused of committing blasphemy Christian father begging police to help get his daughter backChristian girl threatens to burn herself if she doesn’t get justice Pakistan: Woman kills her husband and two daughters Two Christian sisters martyred for not converting to IslamThree Christians charged with blasphemy on Christmas DayA Christian man charged with blasphemy acquitted after 11 years Pakistan rejects US designation on religious freedom blacklistMuslim man shoots Christian woman dead for refusing to marry himPoliceman told Christian father to be happy for his daughter’s conversion to Islam instead of registering a case against the kidnapper Supreme Country unhappy over reconstitution of minorities’ commissionPakistan: Christian family foil attempt to kidnap their daughter Pakistani Senate panel to hold sessions on forced conversion in SindhMuslim man wants to forcefully marry Christian girlBill for minorities rejected by senate panelAnother Pakistani Christian woman escapes her kidnapperChristian hospital cleaner accused of stealing 2.2 million rupees worth of medicinePrime Minister Imran Khan calls for rapists to be hanged publicly PML-N demands public execution of those convicted in child sex abuse cases Man calling himself Jesus charged under the blasphemy law Pakistani Christian man sentenced to death for 'blasphemous texts'Christian mother and son 11 arrested after allegedly stealing gold and cash from employer’s house Police arrest Christian man accused of blasphemyPakistani Christian leaders condemn Quran burning in Sweden Pakistan: Annual pilgrimage at national Marian shrine in Mariamabad cancelledHuman Rights Watch asks Imran Khan to amend the blasphemy law Minor marriages and their conversion is an important issue, CII chairman saysNew curriculum to be implemented next year for grade one to fiveChristian domestic servant beaten for not converting to IslamPakistani Christian mother killed by police officerYoung Christian factory worker killed by his Muslim colleagueComplaints lodged against Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed for committing blasphemyGovernor of Punjab announces opening of Mariamabad as tourist sitePakistan’s National Assembly adopts resolution for adding Quaid-e-Azam’s speech to syllabusOn National Minorities Day, President Alvi says minorities will be treated equally Pakistan National Assembly Unanimously Passes Resolution to Write Khatamun Nabiyyin With Hazrat Muhammad (SAW)Pakistani minorities mark National Minority Day with mixed feelingsPakistan’s Punjab Assembly passes resolution on Quaid’s Aug 11 speechPakistani legislators oppose bill they passed three weeks agoPakistani court sparks outrage by ruling Christian girl, 14, must stay married to alleged abductorPakistani Christian man charged with blasphemyUSCIRF outraged at courtroom killing of US citizen in Pakistan over blasphemy chargesMan accused of blasphemy In Pakistan shot dead at courtPakistan: Punjab govt asked to set minimum age of marriage for girls at 18Punjab Assembly passes bill allowing inspection of printing presses and confiscation of any publicationShould minorities leave Pakistan?Blasphemy complaint against opposition politician for saying ‘all religions are equalPakistan’s National Assembly adopts resolution for teaching Holy Quran with translation in universitiesPope 'saddened' as Hagia Sophia reverts to mosqueCouncil of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan will consider whether public funds can be used to build a Hindu templePakistani Christian man shot dead by neighbour for buying house in Muslim dominated areaIslamic seminary issues Fatwa against construction of Hindu Temple in IslamabadUniversity professor arrested under Blasphemy accusationMuslims attack a church and desecrate the Cross in PakistanChristian mother complains to Police about her daughter's abductionPakistani Minister calls for those who Blaspheme against Muhammad to beheadedHuman rights situation in Pakistan "Grealty worrisome”Pakistani Governor makes Quran teaching with translation compulsory in Punjab University

Time to end misuse of the blasphemy law


The latest case of blasphemy against two Christian nurses working in the Civil Hospital in Faisalabad, has reminded us how the blasphemy law continues to be misused against religious minorities in Pakistan. Civil line police have registered a case, under Section 295-B, against both nurses, Maryam Lal and Navish Urooj, due to pressure from the public and extremist groups. Both nurses have been sent to District Jail, Faisalabad.

The allegation should have been meticulously investigated by senior police officers first and if the allegations were proven, then a case should have been registered. But in such cases, especially against Christians and other religious minorities, standard protocols are hardly implemented, and instead decisions are taken to please the majority, setting the wrong precedent. It is not uncommon to see such treatment.

Despite having substantial evidence, and Waqas openly admitting to attacking Maryam, medical superintendent Dr Mirza Muhammad Ali and law enforcement agencies failed to take any action against him. In a viral video Waqas took pride in his actions and seemed distressed about his failed attempt to take Maryam’s life. The same video is flooded with eulogizing cheers from his colleagues commending his actions. There is not a single remorseful comment, despite the rampant disregard for the law and authorities.

In a separate incident, another Christian staff nurse, Tabeeta Gill, who worked in Karachi’s Sobhraj Maternity Hospital and was accused of committing blasphemy early this year in January, is believed to have been the target of a vendetta by a colleague. She was attacked and her life was threatened yet no one involved was ever questioned. The case is another exploitation of the blasphemous law.

The police investigation cleared her of the charges. But the accusation caused a local public uproar – Tabeeta Gill fell victim to attacks that put her life at risk. In the same manner that Maryam Lal’s attacker was not held accountable, no one batted an eye at the threats made to Tabeeta Gill’s life.

These two instances make it evident that people who misuse the accusation of blasphemy, take the law into their own hands, and commit criminal offences, are never held accountable. Their future is secure, while the victims are forced into isolation. It is not just that the accused lose their careers, their whole life comes to an end; they are pushed into darkness where they have no future.

Maryam and Navish were not lucky like Tabeeta. Given the past record of blasphemy cases, a fate of long imprisonment could be easily predicted. Sawan Masih was released after eight years, Asia Bibi after nine years, Imran Ghafoor after eleven years, and Wajih ul Hassan after eighteen years.

With the prevailing trend of hate and intolerance, coupled with the threats, intimidation and pressure on the judiciary, it has become nearly impossible to obtain a fair trial in Pakistan for those charged under the blasphemy law. The lower courts are often coerced to accuse and convict people without examining evidence.

False accusers and instigators of violence towards religious minorities live their lives with impunity. Although the issue has been discussed a couple of times, false accusations of blasphemy are not punishable by law. This has encouraged extremists and further strengthened the belief that they had done nothing wrong and had fulfilled their religious duties.

Unfortunately, the majority of Muslims believe that death or other harsh punishments are the only punishments for those who commit blasphemy. There are only a few who have a different opinion and have taken a strong position like Javed Ghamdi, Dr. Khalid Zaheer, and Dr. Khalid Masood a very few.

The country’s blasphemy laws in their present form have become a major source of victimization and persecution for minorities. Additionally, the law has been grossly abused to settle personal scores.

In Pakistan, accusing someone of blasphemy is a matter of one person’s word against other. It isn’t uncommon for chaos to transpire after accusation – mob lynching, burning down places of worship, and various acts of violence.

The blasphemy law has various articles, including Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which states that the defilement of places of worship is punishable by a two-year prison sentence, a fine, or both. Section 295-B states: ‘Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life’. Section 295-C states that the death penalty is the only punishment for those convicted of blasphemy involving the name of the Holy Prophet.

Although nobody has been executed officially, many people accused of blasphemy have been murdered by vigilantes before their trials in court.

In a country like Pakistan, where people are driven by their faith and religious emotions, this law is too dangerous – especially the vague language of section 295-C. The clause ‘any imputation, innuendo, insinuation, directly and indirectly’ can be translated in an extraordinarily loose way. However, people know the punishment for blasphemy is ‘death only penalty’, no matter which section a crime falls under. Unfortunately, there is no penalty for making a false allegation.

In the last several decades, extremist Islamic groups have grown so powerful that instead of the law governing their actions, it’s the other way around. The law has instilled fear across the whole nation while religious minorities see no future and living under constant fear of life. If these destructive trends continue, more people will be encouraged to persecute and victimize individuals and groups with impunity. Amending the blasphemy laws has been on the agenda of numerous secular parties. Yet, none have made progress because of the sensitivities over the subject.

Nearly 70 people have been lynched to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges whereas since 1990 another 40 are currently on death row or serving life sentences for blasphemy charges in Pakistan.

Now is a time to end the misuse of the blasphemy law. More lives are put at risk the longer that people choose to live in fear. This is not only a call for help by Pakistan’s religious minorities, but the international community has repeatedly called for changes. We must know our responsibility – internal affairs today can have serious international consequences.

courtesy: https://en.baaghitv.com/time-to-end-misuse-of-the-blasphemy-law/