And if you are in doubt as to what We have sent down to Our servant, then produce a Chapter like it, and call upon your helpers beside Allah, if you are truthful. But if you do it not — and never shall you do it — then guard against the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, which is prepared for the disbelievers. (Al Quran 2:24-25)
They (hypocrites) say, ‘If we return to Medina, the one most honorable (Abdullah bin Ubbay) will surely drive out therefrom the one most mean (Muhammad);’ while true honor belongs to Allah and to His Messenger and the believers; but the hypocrites know not. (Al Quran 63:9)
Dawn Editorial: ONCE again, minorities in Pakistan are left feeling insecure, in an unforgiving milieu that preys on their vulnerability. On Thursday, Sawan Masih, a sanitary worker in Lahore, was sentenced to death for blasphemy.
The incident occurred in March last year during an argument between Masih and a Muslim friend, and triggered rioting by an enraged mob that ransacked and set fire to over 100 homes in Joseph Colony, the Christian-majority neighbourhood where Masih lived.
There was no loss of life simply because residents had already fled their homes in fear of such an attack. Masih’s lawyer has said that he will appeal the decision.
Given that no death penalty awarded for blasphemy has yet been confirmed by the higher courts — apart from one handed down in 1998 that was later set aside by the Supreme Court — perhaps this sentence too will be set aside at some point in the future. What can be said with certainty, though, is that Masih became a marked man from the moment he was accused of blasphemy.
The reality of Pakistan today is that mere accusation of this crime, howsoever unsubstantiated, instantly imperils the life of the individual concerned, and that threat persists not only throughout his incarceration, but even after acquittal.
Minorities are particularly impacted by the blasphemy law. Firstly, they are disproportionately targeted as compared to their actual representation in the population.