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EDITORIAL by Business Rrecorder (November 27, 2010) :
The Aasia Bibi case has reignited public debate about the contentious blasphemy laws. In the present instance, the trouble started when Aasia, a Christian, and two Muslim women working in the fields had a squabble over water. The latter refused to drink water that the former had fetched because she was a Christian – although Islam allows Muslims to even marry ‘People of the Book’.
An argument ensued and the two women managed to get a case registered against her with the help of the local mosque imam. After a year-and-a-half in prison, a sessions court sentenced the accused to death. Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer intervened, and accepted Aasia’s mercy petition to be forwarded to the President for pardon. The social environment being as intolerant as it is, even after she gets freedom, Aasia may not be able to live a normal life.
The blasphemy laws were introduced by the military regime of General Ziaul Haq who exploited religion to prolong his stay in power. It needs to be noted that before these laws came into effect, incidents involving blasphemy were almost unheard of. But the last two-and-a-half decades have seen a sizeable spike in such cases. According to the National Commission for Justice and Peace, between 1986 and 2009, 964 people were charged under these laws.
They included 479 Muslims, 340 Ahmadis, 119 Christians, 14 Hindus, and 10 others. This, of course, does not mean that more and more people have started to show disrespect to the Prophet of Islam (SAW) or the holy Quran, it shows the laws are being misused. And the motive is either personal grudge or a property dispute. Blasphemy accusation is the easiest way to get rid of unwanted people.
The misuse is easy because all it takes is levelling of an accusation, helped by conniving witnesses. There have been instances where there were no witnesses, and yet the accusation was enough to whip up mob anger and kill the accused, like it happened at a factory near Lahore, in the August of last year. One of the factory’s disgruntled workers blamed the owner, a Muslim, of having desecrated Quranic verses on a calendar, and aided by a frenzied crowd killed the owner and his guard. An accusatory finger can also lead to instantaneous killing by angry mobs.
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MissionNetworkNews REPORTS (1 December, 2010):
5 Christians Murdered in a week under Pakistan’s Blasphemy law
Pakistan (MNN) ― Muslim extremists are blamed for the murders of five Christians in Pakistan in less than a week.
Greg Musselman, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says 22-year-old Latif Masih was shot to death shortly after he was granted bail in a “blasphemy” case. He was accused in early November under Law 295c — the infamous “Blasphemy Law” in which the two militants claimed he burnt pages of the Qur’an.
On November 18, Masih’s accusers caught up with him and shot him to death near his home in Godhpur, village 111 kilometers (69 miles) northeast of Lahore. Days earlier, on November 12 in southern Punjab Province, police say Lashkar-e-Taiba militants killed four family members because of their Christian faith.
There are concerns that the violence against Christians will continue. The marked increase in these cases has created a renewed call by human rights watchdog groups for an end to the blasphemy law. The support couldn’t come at a better time. Musselman says, “Christians are always under this kind of law. In recent days, it’s received international attention because of some of the other cases that are happening. The international community is saying, ‘This is ridiculous. You can’t have these kinds of laws.’ There’s a lot of pressure that I believe will be put on Pakistan.”
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