Statements of Radical Socialist

Statement in Support of the Demand for the Repeal of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan

We are deeply concerned by the recent blasphemy(?) related incidents in Gojra, Pakistan and other places where many innocent people were subjected to unabashed brutality and devastation.  The laws have specifically made minorities vulnerable but have also been used against people of the Muslim majority and several cases of public lynching and mob violence are incited on the premise of blasphemy
The recent deadly attacks on a Christian community in Punjab, Pakistan, whose members were accused of desecrating the Qur'an has raised an urgent demand for the abrogation of the law. Members of a banned Islamist group, Sipah-i-Sahaba, took the law into their own hands and it is reported that policeperson present did not try to control the mob and protect the citizens.
This violence was precipitated by an event at a wedding in the Korian village on 24 July 2009, when a few Muslims accused three Christians of tearing paper with Quranic verses. Muslim and Christian community leaders stepped in to resolve this conflict and requested that the accused apologise. However, on 30 July, the mosques of Korian and nearby villages began spreading the allegation of Christians desecrating the Quran, inciting attack on Christians. That evening, a mob of about 3,000 people descended on Korian, and demanded that those accused of desecrating the Quran be handed over to them. Out of a fear for their own safety the Christians ran away while the mob looted property and burnt Christians’ houses. As the rumour of this blasphemy proliferated, the hostility towards Christians escalated in the district.
On the morning of 1st August, the local Ulema (Muslim legal scholars) led a procession against the alleged desecration and approached the Christian colony. In the afternoon, the mob, led by some armed and masked men, attacked the colony and set fire to 68 houses. Six Christians, including four women and one child, were burnt alive, Mr. Hameed Masih, one of the accused, was shot, the residents’ belongings were taken and two churches were ransacked.
This draconian law is an outcome of the Islamicisation process of the Pakistan Penal Code by General Zia ul Haq under the the pretext of defending the honour of the holy Quran, the holy prophet, his wives and other holy personages of Islam. The amended order, known as the Blashpemy Laws, has become a convenient means to nurture the atmosphere of religious intolerance and to settle personal scores, because of its ambiguity and provision to arrest people without prior permission of a magistrate.
Due to the elusiveness of the Blasphemy Laws, both Muslims and non-Muslims suffer. Indeed, in many recorded cases of violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, police and local authorities have failed to act effectively despite prior warning of communal tensions. People are victims of false allegations of blasphemy, often on the word of just one witness. According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan, 960 individuals have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan since 1986.
The Blasphemy Laws, especially Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, have been used and misused, in the words of Hina Jilani, a lawyer with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “… It's a tool to be used against anyone you are in conflict with.” Those who have worked to overturn false charges of blasphemy have themselves become the target of violence. A former Lahore High Court judge, Justice Arif Hussain Bhatti, was murdered by a religious extremist, reportedly because he acquitted a blasphemy case. A number of lawyers and journalists have also been harassed for defending people accused of blasphemy and campaigning against the Blasphemy Laws. The Blasphemy Laws are not only a convenient provision for the religious extremists to eliminate their enemies and intimidate civilians, but also for criminals to legitimise their violence.
We are in solidarity and support the Pakistani human rights organizations, international women’s groups and religious minorities calling Pakistan to urgently repeal its Blasphemy Laws which have not only curtailed citizens’ freedom of expression, but have also been misused by violent religious extremists to commit grave acts of violence against others and to spread religious intolerance. In several cases the law has been used to settle personal scores and rivalries.
We are deeply concerned by the recent blasphemy(?) related incidents in Gojra, Pakistan and other places where many innocent people were subjected to unabashed brutality and devastation.  The laws have specifically made minorities vulnerable but have also been used against people of the Muslim majority and several cases of public lynching and mob violence are incited on the premise of blasphemy
The recent deadly attacks on a Christian community in Punjab, Pakistan, whose members were accused of desecrating the Qur'an has raised an urgent demand for the abrogation of the law. Members of a banned Islamist group, Sipah-i-Sahaba, took the law into their own hands and it is reported that policeperson present did not try to control the mob and protect the citizens.
This violence was precipitated by an event at a wedding in the Korian village on 24 July 2009, when a few Muslims accused three Christians of tearing paper with Quranic verses. Muslim and Christian community leaders stepped in to resolve this conflict and requested that the accused apologise. However, on 30 July, the mosques of Korian and nearby villages began spreading the allegation of Christians desecrating the Quran, inciting attack on Christians. That evening, a mob of about 3,000 people descended on Korian, and demanded that those accused of desecrating the Quran be handed over to them. Out of a fear for their own safety the Christians ran away while the mob looted property and burnt Christians’ houses. As the rumour of this blasphemy proliferated, the hostility towards Christians escalated in the district.
On the morning of 1st August, the local Ulema (Muslim legal scholars) led a procession against the alleged desecration and approached the Christian colony. In the afternoon, the mob, led by some armed and masked men, attacked the colony and set fire to 68 houses. Six Christians, including four women and one child, were burnt alive, Mr. Hameed Masih, one of the accused, was shot, the residents’ belongings were taken and two churches were ransacked.
This draconian law is an outcome of the Islamicisation process of the Pakistan Penal Code by General Zia ul Haq under the the pretext of defending the honour of the holy Quran, the holy prophet, his wives and other holy personages of Islam. The amended order, known as the Blashpemy Laws, has become a convenient means to nurture the atmosphere of religious intolerance and to settle personal scores, because of its ambiguity and provision to arrest people without prior permission of a magistrate.
Due to the elusiveness of the Blasphemy Laws, both Muslims and non-Muslims suffer. Indeed, in many recorded cases of violence against religious minorities in Pakistan, police and local authorities have failed to act effectively despite prior warning of communal tensions. People are victims of false allegations of blasphemy, often on the word of just one witness. According to data collected by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan, 960 individuals have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan since 1986.
The Blasphemy Laws, especially Sections 295-B and 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, have been used and misused, in the words of Hina Jilani, a lawyer with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan “… It's a tool to be used against anyone you are in conflict with.” Those who have worked to overturn false charges of blasphemy have themselves become the target of violence. A former Lahore High Court judge, Justice Arif Hussain Bhatti, was murdered by a religious extremist, reportedly because he acquitted a blasphemy case. A number of lawyers and journalists have also been harassed for defending people accused of blasphemy and campaigning against the Blasphemy Laws. The Blasphemy Laws are not only a convenient provision for the religious extremists to eliminate their enemies and intimidate civilians, but also for criminals to legitimise their violence.
We are in solidarity and support the Pakistani human rights organizations, international women’s groups and religious minorities calling Pakistan to urgently repeal its Blasphemy Laws which have not only curtailed citizens’ freedom of expression, but have also been misused by violent religious extremists to commit grave acts of violence against others and to spread religious intolerance. In several cases the law has been used to settle personal scores and rivalries.