Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s demands make them look weak and afraid, as they send the message to the rest of the world that their faith cannot hold its own in the free market of ideas or stand up to a challenge. Then again, avoiding the challenge altogether is often the idea. Clamping down on free speech can be as much a cynical labor-saving device as a power play.
But it is not just about them. This measure, if approved, would accelerate the purge of Christianity from Pakistan that they and their fellow travelers wish to complete. The ban would be an assault on liturgy, prayer, and teaching, effectively criminalizing every element of Christian religious life. It would be a giant step in the ongoing campaign to make life so intolerable as to induce Christians to leave the country or convert under terror.
“Pakistani Muslims demand a ban on the Bible,” from Fides, June 3:
The Islamic party of Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan and launched a campaign asking to ban the circulation of the Bible, described as a “pornographic ” and “blasphemous book”. This is a new attack against the Christian community in Pakistan, frightened by the attacks and threats suffered after the death of Bin Laden, already under attack due to the damaging effects of the blasphemy law, with the consequence of death penalty to those who insult the Koran or the Prophet Muhammad. The radical group Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, with its headquarters in Karachi, launched the campaign at a public conference.
The allegations above demonstrate why Islamic laws against blasphemy are a ticking time bomb for non-Muslims. Any expression of a belief at variance with Islam can become fair game to be branded as “blasphemy” or “defamation.”
According to the group’s leader, Abdul Rauf Farooqi, some passages of the Bible describe characters that Muslims regard as prophets as being “vicious and immoral”.
One does get into some trouble for describing “characters that Muslims regard as prophets as being ‘vicious and immoral’.”
“It is a move that could fuel religious hatred against Christians. It is a threat to peaceful coexistence, an attack on the heart of our faith”, says a bewildered Fr. Saleh Diego, who presides over the “Justice and Peace Commission” in the Archdiocese of Karachi. “As Christians we are already very weak and subject to pressures for the unjust blasphemy law. These radical groups want to delete us entirely. Sure, they are only minority groups, and we hope for the rise of voices of moderate Muslim leaders to stop this campaign of hatred ” he remarks.
JUI has also not taken into consideration one element of human psychology: the act of banning a book has a way of making even a hitherto obscure publication an object of fascination, as people ask what could be in it that so terrifies grown men in positions of power.
“Our response as Christians in Pakistan, already seen as targets, can be only to confirm the urgency of dialogue and respect for all religious symbols and sacred books of all religions. But we expect that, at an international level, a stronger and more determined answer might emerge, in order to sustain us”, concludes Father Diego, calling for a mobilization of Christians and international institutions to stop the campaign against the Bible.