A lawyer has been murdered in broad daylight for defending a blasphemy accused in court. 68 have been charged with blasphemy for taunting a police officer who shared his first name with the second caliph of Islam. A TV channel has been accused of blaspheming for mistiming a Qawwali, incorrectly depicting a religious tale, and by airing a drama where a young girl questions a misogynistic orthodox religious obligation.
Six men have been accused of blasphemy for allegedly tearing a calendar. Three teens have been charged with blasphemy for protesting against a poster that targeted their religious community. And two men have been shot dead for blaspheming simply because they belonged to a different sect of a religion, or a different religion altogether – depending on where you stand on the bigotry scale.
All of this has happened in the past couple of weeks in Pakistan. Each of the sufferers in the second paragraph was an Ahmadi.
An accusation of blasphemy is a serious charge in Pakistan – like most Muslim countries – since it is constitutionally punishable by death. While no one has been judicially killed for blasphemy in Pakistan, 51 accused have been murdered before their respective trials concluded. Not to mention the riots destroying colonies over blasphemy allegations, as witnessed in Gojra and Joseph Colony to devastating effect.
There were only 14 charges of blasphemy prior to 1986 when the Zia-ul-Haq regime incorporated the law in the Section 295 of Pakistan Penal Code. There have been over 1,300 cases since then. There was a solitary blasphemy case in 2001. 80 in 2011, the year Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were murdered for their reservations against the misuse of the blasphemy law.
The misuse of the blasphemy law to settle personal scores has been evident, with Mubasher Lucman and ARY using it in a blatant case of professional rivalry making it even more conspicuous. And in a country where a religious community, the Ahmadis, blaspheme merely by existing, it is pertinent to touch on conveniently overlooked common sense in the whole blasphemy debate.
Basically the entire Ahmadiyya community blaspheme by breaching a pillar of Islam that all other sects believe is synonymous with being a Muslim. While everyone has the individual right to believe who can and can’t call themselves the follower of a particular religion, to shove that belief down everyone’s throat is contrary to basic human rights. Furthermore the same right, to define who can and can’t be dubbed a religion’s follower, should be given to those who you might not consider “true followers”. For, if excommunications were based on religious disagreements, allegations of apostasy and collective blasphemy wouldn’t stop after outlawing a single sect, as is being meticulously demonstrated in Pakistan.
The constitution – a document one normally considers synonymous with democracy and protection of basic human rights – became party to this bigotry by “officially” excommunicating Ahmadis in 1974. Ordinance XX a decade later prevented Ahmadis from “pretending” to be Muslims.
[quote]”At the moment I can raise a voice for my anti-Shia mission only at a local level and from my local mosque”[/quote]
Allegations of apostasy and blasphemy owing to sectarian differences should have ended there and then. For, if Ahmadis were the solitary Islamic sect that “defied” core teachings of Islam, why have over 2,000 Shia lost their lives in barefaced genocide over the past five years? Why is Ahmad Ludhianvi, the chief of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), the political face of the banned terrorist outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba, made statements like this on record:
“At the moment I can raise a voice for my anti-Shia mission only at a local level and from my local mosque. But when I get the microphone in the [National] Assembly, the whole nation and the whole world will listen…”
The Shia are being systematically exterminated merely for historical differences and not following the same pecking order for respecting the caliphs and the blessed companions as the Sunni Muslims.
Believing one’s own interpretation of an ideology as the most accurate one is something we are all guilty of regardless of our liberal or conservative viewpoints. When said ideology happens to be a religious one, the debate over accurate interpretation becomes even more critical, for a consensus would help everyone decide who we can and can’t massacre.
Just like most debates, unanimous consensus is virtually impossible. Therefore, the violent segment of debaters uses excommunication and extermination as tools to enforce consensus. The blasphemy law is their most potent weapon.
Picture this: If Christians started claiming that anyone not believing Jesus to be the son of God blasphemes and is therefore punishable by death, it would lead to global genocide, engulfing, among other religious communities, every single Muslim in the world.
Does denying that Jesus is the son of God not constitute blasphemy according to the core teachings of Christianity? Does that not make every Muslim in the world a blasphemer according to Biblical laws?
Does calling someone’s religious leader an imposter, not constitute blasphemy? Does mocking the worship of multiple deities not constitute blasphemy? Does believing your deity to be more exalted than someone else’s, your messenger to be more venerable than others’ not constitute blasphemy?
Common sense alert: every single religion blasphemes against every other religion.
If there were a globally sanctioned blasphemy law to guard religious sensitivities – as many Muslim countries have demanded – it would be the Muslim world that would be constantly under its gun. For, anti-Ahmadiyya statements would be blasphemous as well. All religious mudslinging against the “Yahood-o-Nisara” would be blasphemous as well. In fact a lot of our school curricula would be dubbed blasphemous for the anti-Hindu bile that it spews.
The Muslim world believing that their religion is more superior than others’, uses the kindergarten logic of “my dad is better than yours”. A global blasphemy law is impossible, for, the blasphemy law is a pivotal tool for guarding a particular religious ideology’s status quo. A nationwide blasphemy law serves the same purpose. And in Muslim countries the law shields the apartheid and genocide of, among other communities, those that believe in the same prophet and the same God.