THE BLOG

Why Pakistanis Won't Speak Out Against Blasphemy Law

09/04/2012 05:03 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST
AP
Hundreds of Christian families who fled their neighborhood where a girl was arrested on alleged blasphemy charges, fear backlashes from their Muslims neighbors if they had stayed, sit in a public park in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2102. Christians, who took refuge said that people burned their makeshift church to the ground late at night. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

The arrest of 11-year-or-so-old Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, in Pakistan in connection with the blasphemy charges has shocked the world but not Pakistan and majority Pakistanis.

For instance, a Pakistani Canadian from Mississauga, Ontario Canada wrote on the Internet in the wake of this senseless arrest, "Lets fight against the terrorism of USA and support the cause of AAFIA SIDDIQUE (a Pakistani lady convicted and jailed in the USA for assault with intent to murder her U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan)", he stated further, "I am 100% sure that nothing will happen to the girl (Rimsha) and she will be released, not to worry."

While undermining the arrest of poor little Rimsha and provoking dispute in Aafia conviction case, that Pakistani-Canadian fellow completely forgot that a Pakistani Christian lady, Asia Bibi, a mother of five is still behind the bars. She received a sentence of death by a Pakistani court in connection of Blasphemy Law in November 2010.

Two high profile courageous Pakistani politicians, former Governor Punjabi Salman Taseer & Federal Minority Minister Shahbaz Bhatti have been assassinated while opposing the death sentence of Asia Bibi and the infamous blasphemy law there.

Another Pakistani Canadian has named the act of little Rimsha's arrest a drama and has expressed his views on Facebook in those words, "this entire drama is being staged by enemies of Islam and Muslims."

In his and many others' views, enemies of Islam have staged this drama. If it's a drama in their views then there is long list of blasphemy law victims in Pakistan in recent years.

In this scenario, millions Pakistanis are not behind blaming "Western and Zionist media" for conspiring this act.

A young man from Pakistan has put a headline on many Facebook groups that reads, "Zionist media's attempt to sabotage the blasphemy laws."

Then the man went on writing, "Local Christian community accepts her bad action and beated the girl but national level Zionist Christian NGO's and Christian community barking against Islam and threatening Pakistan."

It's not like that there are not any Pakistanis in Pakistan and abroad who don't speak out against this tyranny.

Ali Dayan of Human Rights Watch in Pakistan has said it very clearly in the local media that "[The blasphemy law] was designed as an instrument of persecution." One could find thousands Pakistani critics and activists like Ali Dayan in the country and outside.

But it's not easy for them to speak out in Pakistan. If they do so it clearly means they are looking for trouble, not less than a death threat. It's not easy to demand abolition of blasphemy law in Pakistan which has put the life of Christians, Hindus, Ahmadies, Shias and even dissident Muslims in real danger.

It's not even easy to call it a black law while sitting here in Canada. In so doing, one may invite the intimidations and conspiracy theories of fellow Urdu writers and journalists here in Canada. They would come out to blame you for giving a bad name to Pakistan as if the horrendous act of a little girl's arrest is not sufficient to portrait bad image of Pakistan.

You may find some so-called Pakistani community leaders in Toronto that would be condemning the arrest of a little girl but they would not call blasphemy law to be abolished.

They would say that the law itself is not a problem its misuse is a problem. The blasphemy law Section 295-C reads:

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.

Is the law still not a problem?

Pakistan's cricket star turned politician Imran Khan recently said to a Pakistani Newspaper, "Pakistan's blasphemy law is necessary." According to media reports he thinks in its absence people would be lynched and there would be anarchy.

New Star politician heading his Justice Party doesn't see anarchy created by this Law.

After seeing hopeless situation from Pakistan and majority Pakistanis in terms of not condemning the law, one could only see some hope from conscience Pakistanis living abroad and foreign governments to put enough pressure on Pakistani establishment to abolish this law as soon as possible.

Follow Tahir Gora @twitter.com/TahirGora