Pakistan: From One Potential Blasphemer To Another: In Pusuit Of Clarity


Dear Parliamentarians,

I write to you in the hope of assisting you in a rather arduous task being assigned to you by the PTA. If recent reports are to be believed, the Pakistan telecommunication authority has done the unthinkable; in a rare moment of clarity the PTA has requested the parliament to define ‘blasphemy’.

Yes, after the country’s governor was shot 27 times for seeking pardon for a blasphemy accused mother, his murderer garlanded by lawyers and defended by the ex-Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, a 14-year-old young girl and her family driven out of the country, a 70-year-old mentally unstable woman sentenced to 14 years in jails, several hundred burnt houses and dozens of lynched dead bodies later, you’ve finally been approached to determine what exactly classifies as blasphemy.

If you ask me, it’s rather strange that none of the incidents – or call them random acts of insanity – I summarised were able to do what a B-grade filmmaker was able to achieve. But then again, priorities! We are a nation of strange people and reactions; we forgive the unforgivable and punish ourselves for the crimes of others.

Without wasting much time, I’d want to discuss the important issue at hand. Now that you’ve been given the responsibility of defining blasphemy for the nation, given how difficult it is to be specific, and government policies are by their nature vague, I’d say go with enlisting instances of blasphemy for clarity’s sake:

  • One commits blasphemy each time they harm another in the name of religion.
  • One commits blasphemy each time they incite hatred for another in the name of religion.
  • One commits blasphemy each time they justify murder in the name of religion.
  • One commits blasphemy each time they persecute another for their faith or lack of it.
  • One commits blasphemy each time they infringe the right to freedom of expression, opinion or movement of another, in the name of religion.

For the biggest form of blasphemy that we all almost always commit is to force another to live in fear for believing, speaking, thinking and sometimes even existing, as we justify it in the name of our faith or stand silent as we bear witness.

No videos, sketches or hate speeches have hurt Islam more than the reckless army of blood thirsty goons justifying vandalism in the name of religion.

There doesn’t exist a form of disrespect bigger than justifying cold-blooded murder and hate in God’s name. To instill fear and lawlessness in the society and to justify that as an act of faith. End the insanity now, tell the nation that we aren’t all potential blasphemers waiting to be lynched as and when the opportunity arises.

Trust me; it might do a lot more than just unblocking YouTube.

A fellow potential blasphemer.

Sana Saleem blogs at Global Voices, Asian Correspondent, The Guardian and her personal blog Mystified Justice. She has won the Best Activist Blogger award by CIO and Google at the Pakistan Blogger Awards. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Categories: Asia, Islam, Pakistan

2 replies

  1. Our religion is Islam. There is no compulsion in matters of faith. Let every one believe what he/she thinks fit. Punishment is only for any crime such as theft or dacoity or cheating etc,not for any one’s beliefs. There are many faiths in the country and their are many branches in every faith.
    Shall we punishing every one for the difference of beliefs! Not at all.

    Next is abusing the prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. No sane person will do that. Similarly, damaging the Quran. No sane person will do that. We have to see in the Quran itself if there is any verse which prescribes any capital punishment for dishonoring the Quran or the prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s.

    If there is no punishment mentioned in the Quran then it will be sin to devise a punishment due to our own will. Already the courts are overloaded with many cases. They do not have enough time to attend to all cases. The courts are in trouble due to bad legislation. They have to give decision according to the law. But the law makers are not doing well yet. They should get together and shunt out bad laws so that innocent people can have sigh of relief.

    If the blasphemy laws are to be kept then there should be special safeguards that investigation should be handled at highest level and there should be very serious punishment for the false accusers.

    It is best to amend the harsh laws because decision is given on testimony and in Pakistan, false witnesses are easily available. That cold send the innocent people to the gallows, God firbid.

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