Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pakistani Accused Of Blasphemy For Not Joining Anti-Islam Film Protests

Pakistan loves its blasphemy laws. It's man's best friend over there. Got a gripe or a bone to pick with someone? Your barber gave you a bad haircut? Just accuse them of blasphemy, that'll settle the score. And Pakistanis took full advantage of that during the latest anti-Islam movie protests. Naturally, they took the streets, just like all their buddies over in the Middle East, and Africa, and Australia, and a bunch of other places- nothing like a good rage-induced protest, after all. Egypt and Libya beat them to it, but they eventually packed the streets across Pakistan.

Not everyone jumped on the rage-boy bandwagon, however. There were some who refused to participate, like businessman Haji Nasrullah Khan. He owns about 120 stores, and refused to close up shop after protesters tried to force him to during Saturday's protest in Hyderabad. An argument ensued which then prompted some to accuse him of blasphemy. According to police officer Muneer Abbasi, a  police report was filed, and now Khan and his kin are in hiding.

The protesters claimed Khan insulted the Prophet while arguing with them, said city police chief Fareed Jan. But he said there was no evidence to suggest the insults really occurred and that police only opened a blasphemy case because they were pressured by the mob.

Opening such a case doesn't mean the person is necessarily charged with the crime but that police are investigating him or her.

Protesters ransacked Khan's house, and surrounded a police station, refusing to go away until officials opened a blasphemy case, Abbasi said.

The situation became even more inflamed when religious leaders from one of the biggest mosques in the city issued an edict calling for Khan's death and announced from the mosque's loudspeakers that he should be killed, Abbasi said.

The police officer said Khan and his family members had gone into hiding in fear for their lives.

 As for the blasphemy accusations against Khan? Abbasi thinks it had more to do with unhappy shopkeepers who Khan was trying to evict for late rental payment than righteous indignation about the film and his refusal to join them in their anger-fest.

Some have tried to lobby to repeal those barbaric blasphemy laws, but they usually wind up dead:

Last year, a minister and a governor were assassinated when they spoke out about misuse of the laws and suggested changing them. The governor was shot and killed by his own guard.
Rights activists and critics of the laws had hoped that the recent case of a 14-year-old girl charged with insulting the Quran would help bring about changes in the laws, or at least help curb abuse.
The case gained widespread attention and sympathy both in Pakistan and internationally due to her young age and questions about her mental capacity.
She was granted bail after a religious cleric was accused of planting evidence to incriminate her, and her lawyers have said they will move to throw the case out entirely.

And  those mobs, that the police obviously have no control over,  often take the law into their own hands and have killed accused blasphemers, innocent or not.

Earlier this summer a mob in one Pakistani city dragged an accused blasphemer from a police building, beat him to death and burned the body.

And the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) wants a global blasphemy law? Over my dead body.

No comments: