Thursday, March 10, 2016

The exploitation of religion by using the blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Nasir Khan, March 10, 2016

People around the world have become increasingly aware of the blasphemy laws in Pakistan. In fact, in a country where the 95-98% people are the followers of Islam, there was never any danger’ to this religion, its founder or its holy scripture. Then, why were these laws promulgated in this Islamic country? That has more to do with that limited number of people who have ruled Pakistan since 1947. That ruling elite has frequently played the ‘Islam card’ to bolster their power on the masses. In fact, it has been quite easy for them to do so because the people were rather too eager to accept anything presented to them as being in the service of Islam and God!

Because of the state policies, a vast network of religious preachers and clerics have mushroomed throughout the country. These people comprise the religious establishment that has a real grip on the people. Its influence has also grown enormously in the overseas communities of Pakistanis and their descendants.

Anyone opposing the clerics is in danger of being stigmatised as ‘infidel’ and then made a target. The blasphemy laws have become a fertile ground for many to take revenge for personal disputes against another person by accusing him/her of having insulted Islam, God or the Qur’an! To make such false accusations is so easy. Right from the start, the law is on the side of complainant. The penalties imposed on the victims are incredible – death and life imprisonment. For minor offences, the prison term is three years, fine, or both.

Just for the sake of giving an accurate information what such blasphemy laws contain, I am posting them for the readers to see for themselves:

———— Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Offenses relating to religion: Pakistan Penal code

295-B Defiling, etc., of copy of Holy Quran. Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.
295-C Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
298-A Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of holy personages. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles a sacred name of any wife (Ummul Mumineen), or members of the family (Ahle-bait), of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), or any of the righteous caliphs (Khulafa-e-Rashideen) or companions (Sahaaba) of the Holy Prophet description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.

298-B Misuse of epithet, descriptions and titles, etc. Reserved for certain holy personages or places.
1. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other name) who by words, either spoken or written or by visible representation:

a. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), as “Ameerul Momneen”, “Khalifat-ul-Momneen”, “Khalifat-ul-Muslimeen”, “Sahaabi” or “Razi Allah Anho”;
b. refers to or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ummul-Mumineen;
c. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
d. refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-Bait) of the Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), as Ahle-Bait; or
e. refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as Masjid; shall be punished with imprisonment or either description for a term which may extend to three years, and shall also be liable to fine.

2. Any person of the Qadiani group or Lahore group, (who call themselves Ahmadis or by any other names), who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, refers to the mode or from of call to prayers followed by his faith as “Azan” or redites Azan as used by the Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

298-C Persons of Qadiani group, etc, calling himself a Muslim or preaching or propagating his faith. Any person of the Qadiani group or the Lahori group (who call themselves Ahmadis or any other name), who directly or indirectly, posses himself as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.
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