Death sentence for Muslim ‘prophet’
PAKISTAN’S notorious blasphemy legislation – a legacy of British colonial rule – is in the news again, this time in relation to an elderly Scottish citizen.
According to this report, Muhammad Asghar, an Edinburgh grandfather, is believed to have been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and is said to have had treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Edinburgh
The 70-year-old was arrested in 2010 after writing letters to various people claiming to be a prophet, and he even had “prophet” printed on his business cards.
This led to a blasphemy trial, and a sentence of death.
Asghar’s lawyers argued for leniency, saying he has a history of mental illness – but this was rejected by a medical panel.
The legal charity Reprieve has called on the Government to help the Asghar.
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, which is supporting Ashgar said he is:
In dire need of medical care. The evidence is clear that he is unable to defend himself in court.
Worse still, he is currently being held in utterly unsuitable conditions in prison, and we are very concerned about his health.
Javed Gul, a government prosecutor, said:
Asghar claimed to be a prophet even inside the court. He confessed it in front of the judge.
It is claimed that not only was mental illness ruled out by the court, but that the judge had had Asghar’s lawyer forcibly removed from the courtroom, and carried out the rest of the trial behind closed doors.
The lawyer says she intends to launch an appeal, though a moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan since 2008 means Asghar’s life is unlikely to be in danger – except from Islamic zealots who have a history in Pakistan of murdering “blasphemers”.
In 2012 Rimsha Masih, 14, a Christian, was prosecuted for blasphemy in Islamabad after a Muslim cleric accused her of desecrating a Koran. The cleric was later accused of fabricating evidence and she was acquitted.
Facing persecution in Pakistan, the family fled to Canada last year.
More evidence of Islamic idiocy has emerged from Malaysia, where the faces of piglets where blotted out in a picture published in the Malaysian edition of the International New York Times.
The masking was the work of Malaysian printing firm KHL, which blotted out the faces in a story about farming in the United States. A representative said it was their policy to obscure pigs because Malaysia was “a Muslim country”.
There is no law banning pictures of pigs in Malaysia – a secular country with many faiths– but local media are careful not to offend Muslims who make up two-thirds of the country’s 28 million people, the Malay Mail says.
In 2005 the children’s film Babe was banned from cinemas because of its subject matter, and the similarity of the title to the Malay word for pig – “babi”. Complaints from viewers saw the ban overturned, however, and it appeared on television the following year.
Hat tip: Gordon Bennet, Tony Ewing and Pete H (blasphemy) and Ivan (pig report).