OPEN LETTER TO THE PAKISTANI AUTHORITIES
Ex.Muslims Of Norway (EX-MN) condemns Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and calls on the Pakistani authorities to release all those held on charges of blasphemy.
Freedom of thought and expression are basic human rights. The Pakistani authorities are in contravention of international human rights mandates. EX-MN demands that human rights take precedence.
The right to choose one’s faith is a basic human right, conversely, one also has a right to choose to have no faith and to criticise faith. State imposition of belief is fascism. Individuals must come before ideologies. Worse still, Pakistan’s religious laws are obscure, and therefore open to being abused and misused, such as in the case of student Mashal Khan and Asia Bibi.
Pakistan’s complacency in addressing this issue has led to public lynching of suspected atheists, blasphemers and even Muslims that do not fit the state sanctioned definition of a Muslim.
Pakistan’s use of the intelligence services and terrorism courts for the trials of blasphemers rather than Islamists is scandalous.
Pakistan’s Blasphemy laws are primarily used for personal vengeance; in most cases these laws are used against minorities.
Recent cases of blasphemy in Pakistan:
Junaid Hafeez Junaid Hafeez, who was a visiting lecturer at Baha Uddin Zikria University Multan, he was wrongly accused of blasphemy because of his liberal and secular views. He was arrested on March 13, 2013, after an FIR was registered accusing him of having committed blasphemy. He has been in prison since then.
Abdul Waheed and Rana Nauman Abdul Waheed and Rana Nauman are liberal Muslims that have been arrested after allegations of blasphemy were made against them. This has been done primarily to settle a personal score as has happened in several other cases.
Professor Anwar Professor Anwar is a secular liberal Muslim whose lecture has been wrongly used to frame him as a blasphemer.
Nasir Sultani Nasir Sultani is a Muslim of Ahmadia Sect, this sect is one of the most persecuted minorities of Pakistan. Blasphemy laws are used against individuals from this sect of Islam. Sultani was preaching thorough a YouTube channel and was detained using blasphemy legislation, specifically 298C, which prohibits members from the Ahmadia sect calling themselves Muslims.
Rashid Rehman (Killed for representing JUNAID HAFEEZ) Rashid Rehman was a Human Rights Advocate that was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, A coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), the senior lawyer was defending Junaid Hafeez, a university lecturer accused of blasphemy.
Rehman had reported that he had been receiving threats on his life. The Supreme Court advocate had submitted an application with the District Bar Association president Sher Zaman Qureshi, saying he was threatened by two lawyers and two other persons who asked him not to appear in the case he was representing.
Asia Bibi A Pakistani Christian woman, Aasiya Noreen (better known as Asia Bibi), convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging in 2010. In June 2009, Noreen was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other womengrew angry with her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned.
In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death. If executed, Noreen would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy.
Salman Taseer Politician Salman Taseer was assassinated at the Kohsar Market in Islamabad by his bodyguard, who disagreed with Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.
Abduction of 5 bloggers and use of blasphemy allegations against them: Earlier in 2017 5 bloggers were abducted by security agencies because they were critical of the Pakistani Army’s role in politics. Their illegal abduction was heavily criticized on national and international scale. Because of this they were released.
However, in order to malign them and shift the blame onto the bloggers, allegations of blasphemy were made against them. They had to flee the country in order to save themselves. The media made several allegations of blasphemy against the bloggers and demanded that they be brought back to Pakistan and punished.
Mashal Khan: Mashal Khan was a Pashtun and Muslim student at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Pakistan who was killed by an angry mob on the premises of the university campus on 13 April 2017, over fake allegations of posting blasphemous content online.
Following investigations, the Inspector General Police later stated “We did not find any concrete evidence under which a blasphemy investigation or legal action can be launched against Mashal, Abdullah or Zubair”. Mashal's friend Abdullah stated to the police in writing that both Mashal and Abdullah were devout Muslims, but were actively denouncing mismanagement by the university and had previously led protests against it.
Mubashir Ahmad, Gulam Ahmad, Ehsan Ahmad and Khalil Ahmad Mubashir Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmad and Ehsan Ahmad have been sentenced to death by hanging for tearing down a religious poster.
Whilst in police custody for tearing down a religious poster Khalil Ahmad was shot dead.
Nadeem James Nadeem James is presently on death row for having sent a Whatsapp message to a friend that was deemed insulting to the prophet Mohammed.
Taimoor Raza Taimoor Raza is currently on death row for having a religious debate on Facebook with an undercover FIA agent.
Idrees Ahmad Idreaa Ahmad has been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for lower level blasphemy.
Jaffar Ali Jaffar Ali has been sentenced to death, 35 years imprisonment as well as a fine of 8,000,000 PKR, for blasphemy.
Other individuals accused of blasphemy: Anjum Naz – on death row Javed Naz – on death row Nabeel Chohan – awaiting trial Muhammad Ali – awaiting trial
*Pakistani Blasphemy laws, namely section 295-A, B and C of the penal code are against human right and freedom of expression so these laws should be repealed, with immediate effect.
*Victims of the blasphemy laws, all of those mentioned above and others detained under blasphemy laws, be release immediately.
*Individuals abusing or exploiting blasphemy laws to settle personal scores should be penalised.
*The use of blasphemy laws for preventing healthy debate must be prevented.
*The use of blasphemy laws for shunning of liberal and secular voices must be stopped.
*Lawyers defending victims of blasphemy laws, should be provided with proper security.
*Persecution of minorities (including the Ahmadis) using Blasphemy laws is abhorrent and needs to stop immediately.
*Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad’s high court should be removed from position because of his maligned and unjust behaviour towards the ones who are alleged of blasphemy, he is incapable of giving them a fair trial, due to his own bias position.
*The media should not be able to make allegations of blasphemy, those that do, should face fines or be penalised.
*Killers of Mashal Khan should be brought to justice immediately. Perpetrators of mob violence must be held to account.