“295 makes it impossible to think out loud about Islam freely.” Of course it should be repealed, but that is unlikely. From AINA, with thanks to DFS:
NEW YORK — Gambling often produces sore losers. This past November, in the town of Sangla Hill in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, it served as the trigger for something worse: religious riots and violence against members of Pakistan’s minority Christian population.
Yousuf Masih, a 40-year-old Christian, won several thousand rupees playing cards with a Muslim neighbor. The angry loser retaliated by filing an allegation with the local police that Masih had set fire to a copy of the Koran — a punishable offense under Pakistani law. Within hours, rumors that a Christian had insulted the Islamic scripture were circulating throughout town. Local Muslim clerics used mosque loudspeakers to call on the faithful to avenge the insult.
The result: the next day, Nov. 12, 2005, a mob of more than 2,500 men (some from Sangla Hill, others from nearby Punjabi villages) attacked buildings belonging to the town’s minority Christian community. They set fire to three churches and vandalized a Catholic convent and a Christian elementary school. Local Christian families were forced to flee or go into hiding. Police did nothing to restrain the violence — but they did arrest the luckless Christian card-player Yousuf Masih….
Ordinance 295 — commonly referred to as the blasphemy law — dates back to the 1980s and the reign of the military dictator General Zia ul-Haq. Zia sought to legitimize his dictatorship by indulging the fundamentalist-minded mullahs of Pakistan’s various religious parties. Ordinance 295 gave them what they wanted….
Zia’s regime updated this legislation by adding provisions designed specifically to “safeguard” Islam. Section 295-B of Zia’s law mandates life imprisonment for desecration of the Koran. Section 295-C goes further: it stipulates the death penalty for anyone who defames or insults the Prophet Muhammad….
The fact that Muslims have used Ordinance 295 to indict fellow Muslims points up the larger harm inflicted on Pakistan as a whole by this legislation. A Lahore-based Muslim intellectual told me, “295 makes it impossible to think out loud about Islam freely. We’re at risk of paralysis, both as a nation and as a religious tradition.”
Read it all.