Saturday, November 03, 2012

Some Blasphemy Law related examples from the past month

by Salman Hameed

[This is related to the blasphemy mess of Farooqi Girls High School. Please see these earlier posts herehere, and here]. 

I'm tired of people saying that the problem is only with application of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan. The lives of those who are accused of (not even convicted) are forever changed. Do you think Umair Asim and his family will be the same tomorrow? And Umair's family is only tangentially linked to the blasphemy case.

And if you are looking for how easy it is to bring up blasphemy accusations, just see these few examples that have come up in the past month:

Oct 11th, 2012: Christian boy in Pakistan arrested for blasphemy
A 16-year-old Christian boy has been held on blasphemy charges in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
The boy, named by police as Ryan Stanten, is said to have forwarded a text message which allegedly contained offensive material on Tuesday.
The following day an angry crowd ransacked his family home, setting fire to their belongings on the street.
Reports say the 16-year-old boy was taken to see local prayer leaders in Karachi after the message was sent on Tuesday.
Police say the boy told the leaders he had forwarded the message without reading it to others in the middle-class compound for employees of the local gas company where he lived.
His mother was employed by the gas company and reports say she has since been dismissed from her job.
So her mother was fired was fired from her job because of this, and here are the belongings of his family:

And here is a case that involves the prestigious National College of Arts (NCA) in Lahore.

October 11, 2012: NCA Principal Barred from Leaving Country
LAHORE: Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday restrained National College of Arts (NCA) acting Principal Dr Sajjad Kausar from going abroad till a petition seeking blasphemy cases against NCA staff for publishing “sacrilegious images” in its annual magazine, is decided on.
The petitioner’s counsel told the court on Wednesday that Kausar was due to retire soon and he feared that he might try to flee the country. The court adjourned till October 23.
The petitioner has accused college officials of spreading obscenity and “promoting anti-islamic thoughts”. He has asked the court to direct the police to register a blasphemy case against the staff and to ban the magazine.
Another case involves another principal of another school. In this case he could be charged with narcissism but not blasphemy - which carries a death sentence in Pakistan:

October 23, 2012: Blasphemy Allegations: Principal in hot water for 'comparing self to prophet (pbuh)'
LAHORE: Additional District and Sessions Judge Javedul Hassan Chishti has cancelled the pre-arrest bails of a school principal and six other employees, who are accused of blasphemy for including the principal in a list of role models alongside the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). 
The respondents attended proceedings on a private complaint on Monday morning and were summoned by the judge for 3pm to hear his verdict. However, they did not turn up for the announcement. 
Qurban Ali, the principal of Qurban and Surayya Educational Trust, and other school officials are alleged to have committed blasphemy in a school book that they made titled Qurban Agahi. 
The book included a chapter on role models and a set of four questions and answers about what makes a good hero and some good examples. Six “heroes for our society” were listed as: 1) Holy Prophet (pbuh); 2) Quaid-i-Azam; 3) Sir Syed Ahmad Khan; 4) Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah; 5) Abdul Sattar Edhi; and 6) ‘Sir Qurban’, the principal of the school. 
Advocate Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, the counsel for the complainant and the president of the Khatme Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum, submitted that the school officials had blasphemed. He said that tests were given to students asking who their favourite role model was, and many wrote the principal’s name. He said that the principal had tried to compare himself to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He said that Mufti Muhammad Khan Qadri had issued a decree (fatwa) declaring them to have committed blasphemy.
One can laugh at these type of accusations if the consequences for those involved were not so serious. In a dark medieval universe, how would this count as a blasphemy? And if you look closely, you will find that the council for the complainant is the President of Khatme Nabuwwat Forum - one of the notorious groups going after the Ahmadis in Pakistan. And indeed, if you dig deeper, this is what you find in this blasphemy case:
The respondents said that they were innocent. They said that the police had investigated the allegations and, finding them to be untrue, discharged the complaint for the FIR, which was registered in September 2009. They said that they had not intended to offend with the books. They said that ulema of Jamia Naeemia had issued a decree stating that they had apologised and had not intended to commit blasphemy. The ulema had said that there was room in Islam to forgive those who committed an act unintentionally. 
Astonishingly, they also told the court that the ulema had asked them to expel all Christian and Ahmedi teachers from their school and that they had done so. They asked the court to grant them bail.
Ah - that makes a clearer connection. But don't worry, the judge cancelled the bail. You can imagine the turmoil in these seven families and lives of seven individuals are now hang in balance.


Anonymous said...

Misusing of law must b stop. but we never tolrate disgracing our Prophet PBUH. i condemn ur wordings.... Khatme Nabuwwat Forum - one of the notorious groups going after the Ahmadis in Pakistan...... R u Ahmadi?

Salman Hameed said...

But they are going after the Ahmadis! And just because I think Ahmadis are being persecuted does not make me a Ahmadi. I also think that Lashkare Jhangvi and Sipahe Sahaba are also extreme groups that go after Shias. That doesn't make me Shia either. Or that Sipah Muhammadi go after Sunnis. The point is that all these groups are breeding intolerance in the name of religion - and that is the central problem. said...

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