Oppression of Pakistani Christians

Writing in the Daily Times, Nasir Saeed details the disturbing oppression of Christian in Paskistan, calling on the government of Pakistan, politicians, the judiciary, and religious leaders to” take responsibility to stop vigilante justice and the ongoing misuse of the blasphemy law”:

Unfortunately, Christians are under a constant threat because of continuous misuse of the blasphemy law against them. Over a petty dispute anyone can accuse another person of blasphemy, without thinking of consequences that are often devastating. We have seen several dreadful instances of this in the past. There is a long list of such atrocities, but to mention a few there are a few that stand out in their enormity of the injustice that was done to Christians. Never can be forgotten the horror of Sanglahill, Joseph colony, Korian and Gojra, where apart from destruction of churches and houses, eight Christians, including children, were burnt alive. Who can forget the Christian couple Shama and Shahzad who in 2015 were killed and then burnt in a brick kiln furnace over unproven charges of blasphemy?

There has been no evidence in any case that anyone had actually committed blasphemy. Nobody has ever been questioned with regard to making false blasphemy claims. This not only encourages the perpetrators but also strengthens their belief that their faith permits them to ‘avenge’ blasphemy, that it is according to the teachings of Islam, and they are not committing any crime. Instead they see it as if they have performed their moral and religious duty in an Islamic state.

The blasphemy laws are written ambiguously and vaguely, and it is not clear what is considered blasphemous, and who will determine whether blasphemy has been committed or not. There is also a need to understand whether blasphemy — if the accusation is proven to be correct — has been committed inadvertently or intentionally. But unfortunately no such measures are ever taken into consideration even though they are important for a fair trial and for justice to be done. People have their own standards to consider blasphemy, and it could be anything that ‘offends’ the accuser. There are also several sections of the blasphemy law, and each section has a different penalty, but because of government’s lack of interest, people have taken the ‘duty of protecting religion’ upon themselves, and they have just one punishment for all offences: the death penalty. If the accused is caught by the so-called vigilantes of religion justice will be done there and then. And that happens despite the Supreme Court’s judgement that nobody has the authority to assume the role of a judge, jury and executioner in a case in which someone is accused of blasphemy.

You can read the full article here.