As far as phony charges go, it’s like they’re not even trying anymore. But this man still sits in jail.
What can one expect of a law that is inherently abusive, except more abuse? The Islamic supremacist spirit underlying Pakistan’s blasphemy laws aims to establish Islam’s dominance and create a climate of fear to maintain it, all the more so that non-Muslims (and those Muslim minorities regarded as such) “feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29). Cases such as this, and that of Asia Bibi, are then not so much “abuses,” but a predictable outgrowth of the mentality underlying the original law.
Since the law is fundamentally unjust in that it exists to deny freedom of speech and conscience, attempts to “reform” it would be but a fig leaf, and a public relations move to create the illusion of due process and meaningful judicial review. The simple fact remains that there is no “right” way to apply a law that is plainly wrong.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – As protests and appeals for the freedom of Asia Bibi mount, the controversial blasphemy law has claimed another victim from a religious minority, this time of the Ismaili Muslim sect that is headed by the Aga Khan. The episode proves, if proof were ever needed, how the blasphemy law harms Pakistani civil society of [sic]. The incident took place in Hyderabad, the second city of the province of Sindh. Naushad Walyani, a doctor, is in prison for a seemingly trivial gesture. A pharmaceutical salesman, Muhammed Faizan, visited him on December 9 to sell certain products. The doctor ”after taking the business card of the sales representative threw it in the trash” writes a local newspaper. Clearly annoyed by the gesture, Faizan returned later with some colleagues to “teach the doctor a lesson”. A violent quarrel broke out between the two.
The agent threatened to report the doctor for blasphemy for not respecting the sacred name engraved on the business card. According to local media reports, on December 10 Faizal’s colleagues attacked the doctor, who, following a complaint to police under the Blasphemy Act was arrested and is now awaiting trial. His apology and the assurance that he “had no intention of insulting the Prophet by throwing the card in the trash’ has served no purpose. The complaint was supported by local religious leaders.
In the meantime, the debate on the need to change or abolish the blasphemy law continues. In London and New York Pakistani Christians held demonstrations in front of the national consulate and United Nations Headquarters. The protesters demanded the release of Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy. They handed over a memorandum demanding the immediate release of women and protested against the decision of Lahore High Court to prevent the President Asif Ali Zardari from pardoning her before the appeal proceedings. The High Court however, has not yet set a hearing date to review the ruling. The blasphemy law continues to be used as a sword of Damocles over the heads of Christians and other religious minorities who know they can be accused at any time, and that the law and the police are not on their side….