Blasphemy

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Table of Contents

Letter of transmittal …………..………………………………………………….pg i

Executive summary ………………………………………………………………pg ii

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………..pg 2

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan Offenses relating to religion: Pakistan Penal Code…..pg 4

Critique ……………………………………………………………………………..pg 7

Cases ………………………………………………………………………………..pg 12

Recommendations …………………………………………………………………..pg 17

Bibliography ………………………………………………………………………..pg iii

Introduction

The blasphemy laws under the Pakistan penal code were introduced around 1985 Zia ul Haq, a military dictator, to protect the rights of the Muslim majority of Pakistan. Since then, these laws have been used to terrorize the minorities of Pakistan, particularly Christians. Blasphemy laws are used more for cases of political vendetta, land disputes or political rivalry and a way to challenge someone's identity, a powerful tool to intimidate anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim.

These blasphemy laws severely limit the freedom of speech and assembly of non-Muslim people i.e. Christians, Hindus, Bheels, Maingwals, Sikhs etc. However, Muslims too are now being framed under these laws without sufficient evidence.

Before the introduction of this law, no case of blasphemy ever surfaced in Pakistan and no non-Muslim was ever blamed as a blasphemer. But, after the introduction of blasphemy law in 1985, hundreds of non-Muslims, mostly Christians, have either been killed by the Muslim fanatics or made to flee from the country or put in jails where they face inhumane treatment both at the hands of the Muslim Jail authorities and the Muslim inmates. Any voice raised for the repeal of blasphemy laws, is ruthlessly suppressed. On the contrary however, there have not been many cases of hangings due to violation of the blasphemy laws although, the most criticized is section 295 C which imposes a penalty of death or life imprisonment if a person is caught disrespecting Islam in any way.

General Pervez Musharaf had declared that he would take measures to improve the conditions of the minority communities of Pakistan and had proposed to improve the procedure for the registration of cases under blasphemy laws. But due to threats of Islamic militants and the mullahs he had to forego his statement and there is nothing being done about these laws.

There are certain NGOs and other organizations within Pakistan that are working for the rights of the religious minorities and which try to protect them from such biased laws; they include the Christian Liberation Front Pakistan (CLF), which is a leading human rights organization of the minorities, has been struggling for the repeal of discriminatory laws, and the CSW (Christian Solidarity Worldwide).

A brief mention of the blasphemy laws and their criticism followed by supporting cases outline the contents of this report. Suggestions for improvement have also been made at the end.

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...
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