Meesha's Mish Mash

Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for a religious deity or the irreverence towards religious or holy persons or things (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy)

Burning pages of the Quran could certainly constitute blasphemy according to this definition

Currently, a 12 yr old girl (a Christian) is in jail in Pakistan accused of blasphemy for burning verses of the Quran (click link for video – http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2012/08/22/pkg-sayah-pakistan-neighborhood-reax-blasphemy-charge.cnn)

Under Pakistan law, if found guilty, she faces execution or life imprisonment.

Whoever will fully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable for imprisonment for life.

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 Mohammed (PBUH) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

The key word here is ‘willfully’. It is blasphemy if someone knowingly and intentionally burns the Quran with the deliberate intent to insult Islam – as did the American Pastor, Terry Jones (http://tinyurl.com/bszwgp7)

Under the law, it is NOT blasphemy if the desecration is accidental or unknowingly done

The 12 yr old girl in question reportedly has Downs Syndrome and can neither read or write (http://tinyurl.com/br86o5o)

If that is true, it is hard to see how she can be found guilty of blasphemy even if she did burn the pages (and it has yet to be established that she burnt anything rather than picking up the burnt papers amongst the garbage she collected to live on)

If found innocent of the charge, the sad reality, however, is that she and her family will not be safe to return to their village and must start a new life elsewhere – in case former neighbours decide to ignore the legal decision and exact their own retribution

I am against the desecration of the Quran (or the sacred texts of any other religion) but Pakistan’s Blasphemy laws go too far and need revision. The law is being used as a tool by some individuals to pursue personal vendettas against neighbours or business rivals. Those who speak against the law as it stands and call for a change, however, risk paying a heavy price – as did governor Punjab Salmaan Taseer and federal minister of minorities Shahbaz Bhatti (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12617562)

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This entry was posted on August 25, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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