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Following letters appeared in daily DAWN during the month of October, 2002 discussing the necessity of Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan.
Blasphemy law essential
There have been many incidents where people punished the blasphemy accused by themselves. This should never have happened. However, such a situation arises when authorities don't take a serious view of the most sensitive issue of sacrilege by someone publicly.
Muslims are extremely sensitive about the honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and care for it more than their own lives because it is the basis of their faith. Even the Quaid-i-Azam, who was also a great constitutional lawyer, had defended an accused who had killed a blasphemer. However, there are some NGOs which claim to represent human rights, but factually they maintain no contacts with the common people. Their spokespersons have neither been raised nor educated in local conditions.
One such spokesperson has reportedly pledged to take the case of a blasphemer to the higher courts where, according to him, the blasphemy accused are generally released (Dawn July 1). In the month of August, the Supreme Court had released a blasphemer earlier convicted by a lower court.
The law of the land should be invoked as per the historic perspective, tradition, culture and aspirations of the people. The blasphemy law is very much in accordance with these conditions.
The opponents argue that the blasphemy law is being and prone to be abused. Would somebody point out which law of this country is not being abused and many of them in broad daylight? Should all the laws be abrogated on the basis of this fact?
As far as the freedom of expression is concerned, why is the blasphemy law still on the statute book of even England - mother of all democracies - though the beneficiaries of the law are only adherents to the faith of the ruling class.
Why don't the exponents of human rights and freedom of speech start their protest campaign in that great democracy instead of an Islamic country?
We need peace and harmony in our beloved country and for this purpose the law of blasphemy is essential.
DR ABDUR RAZZAQ SIKENDAR,
Blasphemy law essential
This refers to Dr Abdur Razzaq's letter, Blasphemy Law essential (Oct 4). He has tried to stress the essence of the Blasphemy Law and has proclaimed that it is essential for peace and harmony in the country.
Hats off to the doctor who must be fully conversant with all the canons of justice and fairplay that Islam has laid down.
Islam puts great emphasis on observing the rights and dignity of all human beings. Tolerance, forbearance and patience were the hallmarks of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He exhibited them in his personal conduct in ample measure.
In a country like ours, where the literacy rate is one of the lowest and the weak are subjected to humiliation, the doctor himself admits that nearly all laws are being abused in broad daylight. If it is the practice, then a highly controversial and sensitive affair like blasphemy can easily be manipulated and exploited against a particular class or group of people in order to settle personal scores. Would it be fair if a man is sentenced to death when in reality he is a scapegoat and not in fact an offender?
As far as freedom of expression is concerned in England, anybody can go to the Hyde Park, London, and express his views - against the queen, the country, any religion, etc. The blasphemy law that constitutes the British statute book does not pronounce a death sentence for any oral or written defamation of sacred figures.
No sane man insults the other or speaks impolitely. We should set examples that may bring a good name to Islam at this hour of extreme need instead of inducing resentful feelings among the disbelievers.
UMAR MANSOOR BAJWA
It is being argued that since the United Kingdom has a blasphemy law, we, too, should continue to retain ours in the shape it exists. The comparison is hardly valid.
England went through a renaissance, a reformation of religion and later an industrial revolution.
We have gone thorough none of these processes. The minds applying laws in that country are, therefore, quite different from those here. The blasphemy law on their statute books is consequently much safer than ours.
In the current state of our society the blasphemy law that we have, will continue to embarrass us before the world.
Blasphemy law and harmony
This is with reference to the letter, Blasphemy law essential by Dr Abdur Razzaq Sikendar (Oct 4).
The writer says: We need peace and harmony in our beloved country and for this purpose the law of blasphemy is essential.
To be honest, it's very difficult to comprehend the logic behind this statement. Nevertheless, people are entitled to their opinion. Anyhow, the novel idea of peace and harmony is utterly meaningless if people are falsely implicated under the blasphemy law.
It's already an enacted law but it doesn't shower harmony of any sort whatsoever. Otherwise we would surely have been the world's most peaceful country.
Whether all discriminatory laws, including the blasphemy law, are essential or not is indeed an extremely crucial issue.
Regrettably, in our country laws purely grind the helpless, that is, the minorities in general and the weaker sex in particular. Moreover, the application of these laws has merely tarnished our image as there is no sense of justice in their prevalent nature.
The law in question could easily be distorted in the name of Islam. And what greater argument do mortals need for its annulment!
Just come to think of it, minorities are persecuted legally and constitutionally in this Islamic republic. Most importantly, there is no point in awarding death sentence to a non-Muslim under section 295-C; a non-Muslim simply cannot commit blasphemy because he is a Kafir. Naturally the Hadd punishment is not applicable to him. Another grimy fact is that the blasphemy law is also being abused by Muslims against Muslims to settle petty scores.
These cruel laws ought to be repealed because they ignite religious extremism. Moreover, the interpretation of all these laws makes a vast difference.
Any law which is open to abuse is dangerous. The argument that nearly all laws in Pakistan are being abused in broad daylight, hence should all of them be abrogated? does not have much weight. Rather, we ought to be ashamed of our system which is flawed. This is quite a big loophole and by all means not a point for valid and mature argument.
Since we live in Pakistan, the blasphemy law on the statute books of the mother of all democracies is not our business. However, Pakistani laws are of utmost importance to us because their interpretation and enforcement directly effect our lives.
Law is supposed to provide justice and not to be twisted according to the wishes of a particular slot. In other words, law is neither supposed to do wrong nor condemn innocent people just like that.