Mob Rule Replaces Rule of Law
Politicians who want to challenge the blasphemy law are routinely killed or intimidated, making the government keen to pursue – rather than curtail – the blasphemy laws. Taseer's assassin was lauded not just by radicals, but by those who would be expected to oppose mob "justice": lawyers.
The ordeal of Rimsha Masih, a Pakistani Christian arrested on charges of blasphemy, is far from over. In Pakistan, an allegation of blasphemy can be enough to result in the accused being killed even in the absence of a trial or evidence.
Masih, age fourteen, was charged under Pakistan's notoriously draconian blasphemy laws with burning a copy of the Quran, and held for three weeks in Rawalpindi prison.
There are serious flaws in the case against Masih. Not only is she a minor, but there are also reports that she has learning difficulties and is not of full mental capacity. To complicate the matter further, a local imam has also been arrested over claims that he framed the girl due to an ongoing dispute with her family.
Despite this, blasphemy allegations continue to elicit such passions in Pakistan that authorities could not risk sending Masih home; and a number of her neighbours, fearing reprisals after mosques disclosed her address, have fled their village.
Blasphemy is such as contentious issue that despite being released on bail, Masih had to be taken by an armoured vehicle to a military helicopter and then transported to an undisclosed location where she is currently in hiding. Police fear that if Masih is allowed to return to her village, a vigilante mob would attack her.
These fears are not unfounded. A lawyer for the prosecution warned that if Masih were not convicted, such a scenario was likely. Last year the governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead for merely suggesting the blasphemy laws should be changed. Weeks after Taseer's assassination Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic who was Pakistan's only Christian member of the Cabinet, and who opposed the blasphemy laws, was also murdered.
Far from causing revulsion, these assassinations were largely welcomed by militant groups and their supporters. Taseer's assassin was lauded not just by radicals, but by those who would be expected to oppose mob "justice": lawyers. Instead of being outraged, the young lawyers association of the Punjab offered to defend Taseer's killer pro bono.
Minorities, being subject to almost half of all prosecutions under the law despite comprising about only 3% of the overall population, have particularly suffered under Pakistan's blasphemy law, which is drafted in broad terms and states:
B – Whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur'an or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.
C – 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 Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Politicians who want to challenge the law are routinely killed or intimidated, making the government keen to pursue – rather than curtail – blasphemy laws.
In 2009, in an effort an that is still current, Pakistan sponsored UN Res. 1618, to persuade the United Nation to adopt a law that initially would internationally criminalize questioning or discussing Islam, but was then changed to state "religions." The U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, broke years of silence on the topic to sponsor an official three-day, closed-door meeting on the UN resolution in Washington D.C. just last December.
Pakistan has also started monitoring internet and text communications in Pakistan, to ensure that people are not sending, searching, or looking up material that could be considered insulting to Islam.
This is the impasse: No one in Pakistan is willing to challenge the blasphemy laws. Those who do are assassinated. Mob justice is rampant in such cases, with the issues becoming highly emotionally charged and little attention being paid to the facts. The implications for those accused of such crimes are devastating.
Masih has no future in Pakistan. To ensure she can live her life, the British Pakistani Christian Association is currently lobbying the British government to grant her asylum so she can escape the strictures of religious fanaticism in the country.
In Pakistan, the mere allegation of blasphemy imposes the life sentence of a death sentence.
Reader comments on this item
|Fear of Islam [12 words]||Brian H.||Nov 9, 2012 00:48|
|A point of humor [72 words]||Rick H.||Nov 6, 2012 05:23|
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by Denis MacEoin
Will radical Muslims line up to be deprogrammed and end up teaching kindergarten or devising a twelve-step program for their younger siblings? Since the start of deradicalization programs, the number of radicalized Muslims has risen.
Why is there no Muslim Peace Movement campaigning for an end to violence in Muslim countries? Why do Muslims -- and others -- take to the streets to condemn democratic Israel, yet never march to protest Hamas's use of Palestinians as human shields, or the violence of al-Qaeda, Boko Haram or any other jihadi group? Why not be angry at the way violent Muslims drag the image of non-violent Muslims in the mud? Many Muslims, however, complain about "Islamophobia" while ignoring the primary causes of hostility to themselves.
Muslims... are trapped, because the Qur'an and the Hadith, which make up the holy writ, all condone or command jihad and hatred for non-believers, and they do so abundantly. But commentators and politicians still wonder where the fighters of the Islamic State... or the killers of Theo van Gogh get their inspiration. A young man who sees the world through such a lens will easily turn to this to justify his desire to wage jihad.
It is still risky for anyone one in any Muslim country to call for a new approach to the most sacred texts.
by Veli Sirin
A historical process is now threatened with failure: the reconciliation of the Turkish State with the Kurds living in Turkey.
Turkish guns point in every direction but that of Kobani, and the Turkish air force continues bombing the Kurdish PKK, not ISIS. Many Kurds believe that the Turkish state considers it acceptable for the "Islamic State" to murder Kurds, and would rather bomb the Kurds than help them against ISIS.
by Burak Bekdil
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
"A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey." — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.