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Time To Reform Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws?

Salman Taseer, the 66 year old Governor of Punjab was murdered on the 4th of January 2011 in the broad daylight of a suburb of Islamabad.  He was assassinated following 27 shots from an AK-47 sub machine gun by his own security guard Mumtaz Qadri.

On Salman Taseer’s gravestone it proudly states:

‘Shaheed-I-Insaniyat (Martyr of Humanity). You can bury a man but not his courage.’

Blasphemy laws

Salman Taseer had campaigned for leniency towards Asia Bibi, a Christian lady who had been sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. He had also visited her in prison. He wished to re-examine the harsh blasphemy laws of Pakistan.

Mumtaz Qadri interpreted Salman’s action as being against Islam and took the extreme step of executing him in public. Qadri was sentenced to death on the 1st of October 2011, by Pakistan’s Anti-terrorist Court. It was very concerning that Qadri became a hero for many and developed a significant following.

This week on the 7th of October 2015, three Judges at the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence. Certainly this shows a firmer stance against religious extremism. It is definitely a brave decision that sends out a clear message that a person can not be above justice and take the law into their own hands. This occurred on a background of an official changing of attitudes by the Government and Armed Forces against religious extremism.

There has been a re-focusing of efforts following the terrible massacre by religious extremists of more than 130 schoolboys in Peshawar last year.

Blasphemy is the behaviour or language that disrespects any Prophet or religion. It leads to hurting the religious feelings of others and disturbs the peace and harmony of any society.

Islam doesn’t allow any religion to be maligned, it forbids blasphemy.

However Islam doesn’t prescribe any worldly punishment for blasphemy. This is best left in the hands of the Almighty Allah.

True Islam is a religion of peace, its history shows numerous examples of forgiveness even in the face of terrible challenges. In these troubled times we should seek unityrather than division.

It is time for the world to embrace the ‘human values’ of loyalty, freedom, equality, respect and peace.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Farewell Sermon:

‘All of you are equal. All, whatever nation or tribe you may belong to and whatever station you may hold. No one has any superiority to claim over another. An Arab possesses no superiority over a non Arab, nor a non Arab over an Arab. A white man is no way superior to a black man, nor a black man to a white man, but only to the extent that he discharges his duty to God and mankind, the most honourable among you are those who are most righteous’.

Pakistan’s man made blasphemy laws, which include the death penalty are used as tools for beating many of the religious minorities and vulnerable of society.

Is it time to reform Pakistan’s blasphemy laws?

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