By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
I have worked hard for the last eleven years to build the Muslim Times, as an international blog. It is flourishing as I live in the United States of America and it has become perhaps the best collection for secularism, interfaith tolerance, free speech, universal brotherhood, women rights and religion and science correlation.
I haven’t been to Pakistan since 2006. If I visit and am not ignored, I could easily be charged with blasphemy, an offence punishable by death, if the fundamentalists were to review a few of my writings. In fact the Muslim Times was banned in Pakistan for a period of time.
According to human rights groups, blasphemy laws in Pakistan are often exploited, even against Muslims, to settle personal rivalries or to persecute minorities. Almost any person speaking against blasphemy laws and proceedings can end up in lynchings or street vigilantism in Pakistan.
Arrests and death sentences issued for blasphemy laws in Pakistan go back to the late 1980s and early 90s. Despite the implementation of these laws, no one has yet been executed by the order of the courts or governments as to date. Persons have only been imprisoned to await a verdict or killed at the hands of felons who were convinced that the suspects were guilty.
According to a recent report released by the Center for Social Justice, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Pakistan has seen a sharp rise in blasphemy cases, and in 2020, the highest number of blasphemy cases were registered against 200 people.
This is the highest number in 37 years since the blasphemy law was amended under former military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq. Earlier in 2009, a maximum of 113 people were prosecuted on these charges. According to the data presented in the report, from 1987 to 2020, a total of 1855 people were charged with blasphemy, out of which 1673 men, 84 women and 97 people could not be identified.
The report also revealed that the trend of Muslims complaining against non-Muslims in blasphemy cases has changed and Muslims are filing more cases against Muslims under this law. The report claimed that minorities or those with religious identities are the main victims of the law’s misuse.
Of the 200 people charged under blasphemy laws in 2020, 75 percent were Muslims, followed by 20 percent from the Ahmadi community and about 3.5 percent from Christians, the report said. And one percent were Hindus. According to the report, 70% of the Muslims to whom these laws were applied were Shiites. Similarly, according to the contents of the report, 76 percent of cases were registered in Punjab, 19 percent in Sindh and two percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during 37 years.
At the end of 2020, there were 337 prisoners in Punjab jails on these charges. Similarly, it has come to light that so far 78 people facing such charges have been extra-judicially killed. Among them were 42 Muslims, 23 Christians, nine Ahmadis, five Hindus and two people whose religion could not be verified. According to the report, allegations of blasphemy have also been used as propaganda to spread hatred, incitement by extremist organizations, and fundraising.
The fear of blasphemy prosecution or mob action does not make me a fan of Islamism or Islamomania.
If, I as a devout Muslim am scared to death of these and many other developments in the Muslim world and Pakistan is only one example, what about the non-Muslims who are often target of such laws and nefarious activities in the Muslim majority countries?
What about the non-Muslims living in the West?
After the September 11 twin-tower attacks in the United States in 2001, hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs increased 1,600% from 28 incidents in 2000 to 481 in 2001. A smaller but still substantial increase in hate crimes occurred after the 7/7 London bombings in July 2005.
Hate begets hate! But, it does not have to be others’ violence against a group that spurs or incites violence, the hatred and violence by a certain group, strangely motivates the sympathizers of the perpetrators to create more of it also.
Researchers found that hate crimes against the Muslims spiked after the mosque attacks in New Zealand.
The number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported across Britain increased by 593% in the week after a white supremacist killed worshippers at two New Zealand mosques, an independent monitoring group said.
The group Tell Mama said almost all of the increase comprised incidents linked to the Christchurch attacks last Friday, and there had been more recorded hate incidents in the last seven days than in the week after the 2017 Islamist terrorist attack in Manchester.
So, what is the solution to this hatred, created by Islamomania in the Muslim world and Islamophobia in the West?
Very simple, Google the antonym for hate? I just did. Answer was love!
The main ingredient is love, love and some more love: