6.23.2011

The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan: What Non- Muslims Live with Everyday



By Aric John

The Blasphemy Law is a part of the PPC (Pakistan Penal Code), which was introduced in 1860 by the British Government to protect religious feelings. 
It may be observed, that Section 295 provides protection to worship places of all classes of religions living in the subcontinent (united India and Pakistan).  It does not contain element of discrimination or preference to any class.  It maintains equality of all before the law.  The law appears to maintain mutual harmony and peace as well as to promote a sense of mutual tolerance, understanding, and respect in the multifaceted society of the Subcontinent.  This section represents the typical example of a secular democratic law for the benefit of all and loss to none.  Unfortunately, it gradually was envenomed and the additions in it made this law a weapon of annihilation.
There have been instances of intolerance relating to the Blasphemy laws, promulgated by General Zia-ul-Haq (former president of Pakistan) in 1985.They state that whoever says anything disparaging about the Holy Quran and Muslims can be punished by life imprisonment and that anyone who blasphemes against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is liable for the death penalty.
The Blasphemy law continues to be abused, because of its vague formulation, which allows arbitrary enforcement.  In addition, it only takes the testimony of four Muslims to bring about a conviction.  It is not worthy that in several cases complaints have been filed at the insistence of local clerics or members of the Islamic parties.  The motives are varied and some seem to be purely because the accused is a member of minority faith.  In other cases, this fact is exacerbated by economic or professional rivalry.  So in essence, what this means is that anyone who disagrees with the Muslims in this country, risks life, and limb with no hope for fairness, much less any semblance of equality.
 


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