Blasphemy law is not above criticism

Blasphemy law is not above criticism

Pakistan’s highest court recently ruled that criticising the country’s highly controversial blasphemy law is not in itself illegal.

According to this report, the Supreme Court decision is seen asĀ  an important development by the Barnabas Fund, a group which campaigns against the persecution of Christians around the world.

The group said:

The Supreme Court’s statement that criticism of the blasphemy laws does not amount to blasphemy is a significant victory.

The Barnabas Fund added that the verdict is a significant first step towards giving more Christians in Pakistan some freedom of speech.

While the path to full protection against the accusation of blasphemy for Pakistan’s Christians is a long one, the freedom to allow high-level debate within Pakistan itself could mark the beginning of another step forward.

The judgment from the Muslim-majority court stemmed from the appeal made by Mumtaz Qadri, a police commando who was sentenced to death for the killing of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, in January 2011.

Qadri shot Taseer dead after the latter criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Before his death, Taseer visited Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who was jailed and sentenced to death for supposedly insulting the name of the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2009.

In his appeal, Qadri justified the killing of Taseer, saying “he was convinced that Taseer had committed blasphemy when he criticised the blasphemy law, calling it a ‘black law.'”

In Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death. This harsh law has caused the imprisonment of 150 Christians over the last 30 years.

At present, 14 people, including Bibi, are facing the death sentence due to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

8 responses to “Blasphemy law is not above criticism”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Whilst this is encouraging news, it beggars belief that well into the twenty-first century it is necessary to establish that a country’s citizens are legally entitled to criticize – not break – the law of the land. Pakistan, of course, is a member of the UN Human Rights Council – but so are Saudi Arabia and China. It makes you wonder what the point of the UN actually is, and whether we are making any progress at all.

    In general Freedom of the press is allowed but any reports critical of the government policy or critical of the military is censored. Journalists face widespread threats and violence making Pakistan one of the worst countries to be a journalist in, with 61 being killed since September 2001 and at least 6 murdered in 2013 alone. Tv stations and news papers are routinely shut down for publishing any reports critical of the government or the military.

    “Did Magna Carta die in vain?”

  2. AgentCormac says:

    OT (sorry, Barry) but I spotted the following article on the BBC News website about the internet and ‘spirituality’. It’s interesting because it shows just how intollerant a lot of muslims are (like we didn’t know that already), but also becuase it demonstrates just how woo some folk can be:

    ‘Most people associate video games with guns and shooting and mindless entertainment, whereas I’ve been a player and creator for a number of years now. I see another side to it and I definitely see a space for spirituality within that. If something engages you, you tend to be really pulled into the experience and I find it allows for an interesting space within my mind to mediate and be mindful. I would call that spirituality.’

    Far out!

  3. barriejohn says:

    Talking about China; the Chinese ambassador has said that discussion of human rights will be “off the menu” at Buckingham Palace this week. as the British “know how to behave”. And Prince William will be making a speech about…the ivory trade. Gawd ‘elp us!

  4. Cali Ron says:

    What a Prince. So glad to hear he’s tackling the difficult issue of “Ivory Trading”and not bothering to insult the Chinese with all that human rights blather. After all, elephants are a threatened species while the species of man is overpopulated and largely god deluded.

    Way to go Pakistan, really going modern there. Finally, it’s not blasphemy to talk about the blasphemy law. Maybe someday they can stop stoning witches and female mutilations.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Cali Ron: Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Champion a cause popular with the British public, where it looks as though you are taking on the powers that be, whereas in actual fact you are doing nothing of the kind. When I was teaching I ran a WWF branch – presidents including huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ Prince Philip, and he wasn’t even the worst if you look up Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands! They just take us as fools.

  6. Cali Ron says:

    Judging from how many of “us” are religious you could generalize that we are fools. Of course we are not ALL fools, as this site is proof of that.

    barriejohn: Just read the WIKI on Prince Bernhard and that man was quite a legend in his own mind, but actually a despicable man. It always amazes me to see any of the “royals” that are left hobnobbing with the rich and being just generally arrogant and self absorbed. Frankly, I don’t get why some people still put them on a pedestal. I think they should be knocked down and all their wealth returned to the people that they stole it from. Especially the queen mum and her silly hats. Of course, we have no royals in America so maybe I just can’t relate.

  7. dennis says:

    @Cali Ron our “Royals” are the 1%. so get your bat (metaphorically) swing in shape for the swing.