Man in Kashmir gets life term for burning Quran

By AFP
Published: March 15, 2012

Naseem Ahmed was arrested last June on charges of desecrating Quran in Lasda village of Kashmir.

MUZAFFARABAD: A local court on Tuesday jailed a 42-year-old Muslim man for life for burning a Quran, officials said.

Naseem Ahmed, a father of three, was arrested last June on charges of desecrating Islam’s holy book in Lasda village of Kashmir, about 40 kilometres east of the regional capital Muzaffarabad.

The farmer was found guilty under the blasphemy laws that make defaming Islam punishable by death and which have been heavily criticised in the West, particularly over the persecution of a tiny non-Muslim minority.

“We heard up to 15 witnesses. His mother also testified against the accused and we have given him life imprisonment,” Judge Ameerullah Khan told AFP.

Ahmed said he would appeal the sentence, professing his innocence and saying he had no idea that a Quran was among a pile of books he set alight.

“My younger brother and sister didn’t care about their school books and used to leave them scattered around the house,” Ahmed told AFP, speaking by telephone from custody.

“One day I came home and got angry at seeing the books scattered. I collected them up and burnt them. My mother admonished me, telling me that among the books I burnt, was a copy of Holy Quran,” he said.

“The neighbour overheard and called the police. Members of a rival (Sunni Muslim) sect with whom I had been clashing in the past suddenly became active in this case that is why I have been convicted,” he said.

Pakistan introduced its anti-blasphemy law in 1986 and it was adopted by Pakistani-administered Kashmir in 1993.

In late 2010, a Pakistani court sentenced a Christian mother to death for blasphemy. Her case was taken up by liberal politician Salman Taseer, who was shot dead in January 2011 over his calls to reform the blasphemy law.

Last month, reports that Americans set fire to Qurans on an American base in neighbouring Afghanistan sparked riots that killed at least 40 people.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Mj
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:13PM

    Unbelievable. Pakistan may very well be a portal into the dark ages.

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  • abdul basit
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:17PM

    The blasphemy laws are a blight on our society.Anyone with even a half functioning brain finds these laws offensive.Yet,they are still in force in our country.They were imposed by a religious dictator who wanted to appease the religious fanatics.thousands of lives have been ruined because of this,yet a segment of our society continues to support these regressive laws.
    It’s time we moved out of the dark ages.

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  • faraz
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:20PM

    According to the Blasphemy law, intention doesn’t matter. You can be punished without having any intention to commit blasphemy! You may never know you have done something wrong, and end up in jail or dead.

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  • Raj
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:20PM

    This is ridiculous. You are destroying a man’s life. At least think of his 3 children!

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  • Senman
    Mar 15, 2012 - 4:47PM

    This is madness, there has to be a better way of punishing.What the guy did is an act of ignorance, life sentence for that?
    When I was 12 I touched Quran accidentally in my neighbors house and got scolded by the granny of the house, if this happened in Pakistan, would I be sentenced to death or life?
    pure madness.

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  • Yaida
    Mar 15, 2012 - 7:02PM

    This is not religion my brothers and sisters. This is tyranny of the worst kind ! The poor man did not even know there was a Quran among the books that he burned !!

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  • Babloo
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:42PM

    Its not the physical book but the teachings that it may contain that should be held sacred by those that believe in them.
    How different is a physical book from an idol which is held so offensive by the same people ?
    Even a 2nd grade student from a madrassah, with below average IQ, should be able to understand that concept . Or did I get this wrong and the mobs that burn and attack anyone accused of burning a sacred book, by mistake or intentionally, are correct ?

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  • Babloo
    Mar 15, 2012 - 8:54PM

    Just as I do in Tribune, I often write comments in NY times, Washington Post and severel Indian papers. Tribune moderators deserve lot of credit for allowing free discussion and at the same time keeping it civil and largely respectful. It’s a difficult job and Tribune seems to have got it just right.

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  • go65
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:22PM

    @Babloo: “Tribune moderators deserve lot of credit for allowing free discussion and at the same time keeping it civil and largely respectful. It’s a difficult job and Tribune seems to have got it just right.

    I totally agree Babloo. Times of India can certainly learn from the Tribune coment section. I say this as an Indian.

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  • Babloo
    Mar 15, 2012 - 11:39PM

    @go65, Most Indian web sites, either have too much moderation , like ‘The Hindu’ or No moderation like Times of India. In the Hindu, they wont allow comments that are severely critical of Pakistan even when they are factual and the moderation takes almost 24 hours. In Times of India and Hindustantimes, you can write whatever rubbish you want to write about anything and anyone and there is no moderation. So, few rotten apples destroy the comments section and render it dirty. In USA, NY Times, has a okay moderation policy but they too are weak on moderating comments on India Pakistan issues because of their weak knowledge of the area and the desire to be seen impartial, often when the issue is between a wrong and a right, leading to wrongful censorship. Washington Times, too has a free-for-all moderation policy and so tends to get ugly. In contrast, Tribune Pakistan, has kept its coments sections civil while at the same time allowing enough freedom for all sides to express there views.

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  • Mar 15, 2012 - 11:53PM

    Poor Kashmiri guy! My heart bleeds for him!

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  • Babloo
    Mar 16, 2012 - 12:23AM

    The laws should be very clear.
    If you burn my copy of my sacred book, you will go to prison, for destruction of property belonging to someone else. If you burn your personal copy of any book, holy , sacred, non-holy, its your property and no one else has a say in it. I would have no objection if someone went to the market, bought a idol or book of anything I hold sacred, went home and destroyed it. I would perhaps just laugh at the person’s foolishness and may even wish that the person should continue to spend his valuable personal time, effort and resources in continuing to do so. He only hurts himself.

    However, if he came to my house and destoyed anything belonging to me then he should be punished for destruction of property. It should be that simple as long as religion is not mixed with politics.

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  • Sundar
    Mar 16, 2012 - 12:43AM

    How come this religion is being professed as ‘peaceful’, ‘way of life’ etc. etc. If this religion is really peaceful how come most of the believers are so violent and barbaric?

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  • Mar 16, 2012 - 1:10AM

    death sentence for christian asia bibi, christian village burnt in gojra for burning few pages of quran but just life term to a muslim for burning entire quran. fair justice indeed.

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  • papoo piplia
    Mar 16, 2012 - 1:14AM

    Stupid mullahs and their stupid laws.

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  • Giri
    Mar 16, 2012 - 2:32AM

    @Babloo,
    You seemed to be a level headed person until i read your latest comment about burning their Qurans as a personal property. That is even more rubbish than the present blasphemy law. Your is extreme liberalism. If such a law is made, you will have all hindus burning Quran, All muslims burning Gita etc. because they bought it. That can never be made in Pak, but if you make this in India, it will be free for all burning..I don;t what indian law is if someone burns a holy text, but i am sure, politics will play a bigger role if such a law come into effect.
    In India, someone can write any thing trash and derogatory against hinduism and still no one can file any case. We have an idiot called Kanchan IIlliah who does that. There is one bengali author, who wrote some trash against hinduism.

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  • Babbarsher khan
    Mar 16, 2012 - 7:29AM

    Kaptaan Imran, whaddaya say? Your reform deals with this kinda issue as well?

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  • Confused
    Mar 16, 2012 - 7:31AM

    Wait, they didn’t kill him for it? That’s probably an improvement.

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  • Shyam
    Mar 16, 2012 - 8:14AM

    I have a great Idea. Build an illegal construction and then write Qoranic verses on its walls. If anyone dares demolish the building then he can be sentenced to death for Blasphemy

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  • JustAnotherPakistani
    Mar 16, 2012 - 8:16AM

    Brainless and immoral. Was he burning the complete works of a certain WS? No? Then why this harsh sentence. No “sacred” text is worth ruining a human beings’ life.

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  • Mar 16, 2012 - 8:47AM

    OK this time his intention was not burning the Quran, fine. What if someone intentionally burns it?

    At the end of the day its just a book. You give him death or condemn him to life in jail for burning, what at the end of the day is just, a book?

    People who say intention was not so, so the punishment shouldn’t have been given are actually indirectly supporting a non-liberal viewpoint. They are helping the Mullah’s Worldview to spread, un-intenionally, of course.

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  • akash
    Mar 16, 2012 - 9:36AM

    which century these people live in.. can we please send them to Mars or Moon. Even if its intentional people need to ask – is our religion so weak that it will weaken the religion. I mean really .. wake up !!

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  • Truthbetold
    Mar 16, 2012 - 9:51AM

    If one follows Islam strictly, blasphemy laws are part and parcel of Islam. Islam does prescribe severe punishment for blasphemy and even worse, death, for apostasy. So, as bad as it looks, this Kashmiri guy’s punishment is well within Islamic laws.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Mar 16, 2012 - 10:25AM

    @abdul basit:

    Anyone with even a half functioning
    brain finds these laws offensive

    You are absolutely correct.
    Anyway, is it possible for any political party in Pak come to power with scrapping of anti-blasphemy law on it’s agenda?

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  • MastMaula
    Mar 16, 2012 - 10:34AM

    This news will be bad impression to Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir.

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  • indianatheist
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:39PM

    @Giri: In India you can burn anything as long as it is ur personal property. There is no special law condemning it or encouraging it. You can burn any religious book. There have been many incidents of burning non religious books in recent past. But if religious book burning happens I don’t think it will be a cause for concern, it will be seen by many at most an action in bad taste. Indian society, including muslims, is very tolerant and we should not be scared to see any religious book burning.
    In fact the very political party which does religious book burning will loose its vote bank and hence if any law comes that explicitly allows religious book burning, it wont change anything.

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  • indianatheist
    Mar 23, 2012 - 10:51PM

    @JustAnotherPakistani: bravo. I hope people who think like you are more in numbers than those who think like Qadri.

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  • Mar 24, 2012 - 10:16PM

    Islam is a religion of peace. Then why the people behave like this and support this extreme punishments. Because there are no real Muslims in Pakistan but only Jews.

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  • Mandeep Vaid
    Mar 28, 2012 - 1:22PM

    On the one hand their obsession for a stone-age blasphemy law knows either any pardon nor compassion and the offender is either killed or sent to jail for the rest of his life.

    Interestingly on the other hand these same people and courts of justice are so coward and hypocrites to punish criminals and scums of their society like Bilal Khar and million others of his calibre.

    So much to the religion of Peace and Justice. Insanity prevails!

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