A few days ago, a video of erstwhile pop icon and widely heard Islamic evangelist, Junaid Jamshed went viral on the Internet, in which his remarks were perceived as blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his wife, Ayesha (RA).
By the time of the writing of this article, he has been charged under the Blasphemy Law (clause 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code). The clause reads:
295-C – Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
The law prescribes a fixed death penalty for all those who are found guilty. The option of life imprisonment was made defunct after a 1991 Federal Shariat Court judgement.
Junaid Jamshed has already responded with a public repentance, re-affirmation of his faith and a plea for pardon.
Unfortunately, for Junaid Jamshed, the dominant religious narrative in the country holds that blasphemy is an unpardonable offence.