Top Islamic body proposes changes in blasphemy law

Published: December 19, 2010

Recommendations made on a reference sent by the government.

ISLAMABAD: To stop the abuse of the controversial blasphemy laws, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has recommended several amendments, but it is still opposed to their repeal.

The CII, Pakistan’s top constitutional advisory body on Islamic injunctions, made the recommendations on a reference sent by the federal government.

The Council has instead suggested certain procedural amendments to ensure that the laws are not misused against any individual irrespective of his religion. Capital punishment should be retained for offenders, the CCI maintained in its proposal.

The government faces vociferous criticism by world human rights bodies against the alleged misuse of the laws. Several domestic civil liberties associations have also opposed the laws on account of the inherent discrimination.

The United States and the United Kingdom consider the laws to be anti-Christian and have requested Islamabad for their repeal. However official record of cases registered under blasphemy laws in show that majority of the cases are against Muslims.

The CCI had asked the government to amend the laws after examining the grievances, according to a source in the federal ministry of law. These recommendations were sent to the government by the CII before the appointment of Maulana Sherani as its chief.

“The government should not allow anyone to misuse the blasphemy Law and it should take all appropriate measures whether administrative, procedural or legislative to stop incidents of mishandling the blasphemy Law,” the CII has written in its recommendations.

The CII has recommended a change in the procedure for the registration of cases under the blasphemy Laws. The police must investigate the complaint systematically before registering the case.

“It should be made obligatory for the complainant to produce concrete evidence to substantiate the charges while lodging a First Information Report with the police.

The accused persons must be given the right of defence through a legal adviser and a First Class magistrate should supervise the police investigations prior to the registration of the case,” according to the proposal.

Blasphemy cases should be tried by the High Courts, members of the CII have observed in the document.

A few members of the CII were of the view that a committee comprising leading scholars should be set up by the federal government to draw up its recommendations in consultation with political parties and stakeholders.

Several sections of Pakistan’s Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) cover the offence of blasphemy. Section 295 forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object. Section 295-A forbids outraging religious feelings, 295-B forbids defiling the Quran and 295-C forbids defaming Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh).

Except for 295-C of the CrPC), the provisions of section 295 require that an offence be a consequence of the intent of the accused. Defiling the Quran merits imprisonment for life. Defaming Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) merits death with or without a fine.  If a charge is filed under 295-C, the trial must take place in a Sessions Court presided by a Muslim judge.

The police and law enforcement agencies have charged 1,274 people with offences under the blasphemy laws from 1986 to 2010. Sixty per cent of the people charged were non-Muslims. Several of the accused were murdered according to media reports. No judicial execution of a person charged with blasphemy has occurred in Pakistan so far.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Ahmer Ali
    Dec 19, 2010 - 11:58AM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.Once again a new game of amending blasphemy laws on the recommendations of Council of Islamic Ideology is going to be started to protect and secure the the blasphemers in Pakistan and on the pressure of Human Rights organizations,UK and USA to elevate this law from Pakistan’s constitution so that every one could blaspheme any time whenever he/she wants.If this amendment or elevating procedure is successfully completed then what shall be the future of Islamic Republic of Pakistan where already British-made constitution,amended in 1973,is implemented of which most of the articles are against the Quran and Sunnah laws.The most saddest news is this that C.I.I. which is considered the most authentic council about the Islaimc laws is recommending the amendment then what has been left behind?Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2010 - 12:08PM

    CCI did the right thing, only procedural changes were required to stop the abuse of Blasphemy Law.Recommend

  • Buspur
    Dec 19, 2010 - 12:17PM

    Its a mere tactic to keep mouths of both human rights advocacy groups and the fundamentalists shut besides saving their skin by not opposing their bosses in the government.
    Shame on those defending the imperialist’s-invented Blasphemy laws. This is a mirror image to the fact that a section of the establishment has succeeded in embedding Saudi culture into minds of the masses in the name of reliegion.
    The cultural onslaught this country is subjected wont come to an end. A day will come when the country will be converted completely into a Saudi state.
    This Saudi talibanisation and enforcement of Saudi culture in the name of religion is taking a dangerous toll.
    An alarm bell for the so called modernists/liberals and a matter of shame too. Those searching their roots in the deserts of Arab and the American-inspired so called liberals both should come on the right track before its too late. Recommend

  • parvez
    Dec 19, 2010 - 2:01PM

    If this law is ammended in line with the true spirit of Islam it will be a big plus for the PPP and our law makers.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Dec 19, 2010 - 2:24PM

    It is an unjust and anti-human Islamic Law. It is contrary to any democratic system of government. This law should be simply scratched.

    If Pakistani Muslims want to have it, then it will be only valid on Muslims. The followers of any other religion have nothing to do with this law and they should not be punished under this blasphemy.act.

    Muslims have no right to apply their religion over others.Recommend

  • Morphine
    Dec 19, 2010 - 2:35PM

    Its the absue of exisitng law that forced ammendments. Onus once again is on the illiterate Pakistanis who make decisions on the baiss of personal animosities and not logic and jutice.
    At the end it all bogs down to how u interpret the laws … And that needs an open and literate mind …Recommend

  • Majid Maqsood
    Dec 19, 2010 - 3:10PM

    It is really commendable understanding by council of Islamic ideology (CII) and it must be supported by the Nation. Govt should follow the recommendations of CII and move it in assembly for the debate. according to statistics 60% non Muslims have been victimized by this blasphemy law and it reflects that this blasphemy law is badly used against the Non Muslims. Islam does not let us to hang the innocent people on the name of blasphemy. its high time for parliament to amend this blasphemy law which has embarrassed the country and Nation. it was perception that there is only liberal class demanding to repeal this blasphemy law but now our some religious scholars are also convinced that this law should be repealed. Government should also reach to scholars of all sects and try to convince them and i am sure the Shea sect would also be convinced to repel this blasphemy law. Recommend

  • faraz
    Dec 19, 2010 - 5:49PM

    There is no punishment for Blasphemy in Islam. This is not an islamic law.Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 19, 2010 - 6:08PM

    its a fascist law brought in by a fascist dictator to suppress the people of Pakistan. Now the same parties that fought against the creation of Pakistan are fighting the repeal of this law.Recommend

  • Dec 19, 2010 - 6:14PM

    Isnt it blasphemy if the Islamic blasphemy law is misused? Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Dec 19, 2010 - 10:01PM

    Blasphemy laws in Pakistan- three kinds of sections are there; 1. Repeal the Law, in toto..2. Amendment in the laws like conversation of Death etc. into life or otherwise..3. Change the procedure of investigation to avoid misuse of the law like role of the Court be enhanced rather police, informer/ complainant with complain be referre…d to magistrate or sessions judge for preliminary enquiry then proceed further. Keeping in view the sensitive nature of the issue I believe in third option as pragmatic..
    Islamic Ideological Council,recommended Blasphemy Laws changes in line with my research paper,the study was conducted by AAP, in which after a detail legal research of Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan, it was recommended that instead of repealing the law,procedural changes to avoid innocent victims should be brought, like matter refer to the court as preliminary inquiry to scrutinized the material of the complaint.
    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=462087144689&id=100000586390064Recommend

  • murassa sanaullah
    Dec 19, 2010 - 10:04PM

    Awriter in one of the leading newspaper quoted someone God save islam from Pakistanis,which is quite correct ,we muslims have done our utmost to harm this religion,the blasphemy law has only been used for enemity ,in more or less all cases the accusers and accused had some fight or enemity, we are a very emotional nation if i would say change the law so many of my friends would have a strong reaction but thier should be some amendmends in which situation should be seen ,the wrong accusers or mis users of this law should also be punished.so that such laws should not be misused, and we should make some laws for the protection of minorities so that the minorities would know about true islamic state.Recommend

  • Humanity
    Dec 20, 2010 - 1:50AM

    The blasphemy law is a blasphemy against Islam, the religion of tolerance, love, and forgiveness. They contradict the guidance and message of the Quran and Sunnah. Who has given the clerics who advise otherwise, the authority to overrule the Quran and the Sunnah? The false propaganda of the cleric is blasphemous.

    The law must be repealed if people want to uphold the true spirit of Islam.Recommend

  • Ahmed
    Dec 20, 2010 - 2:20AM

    This law should be scrapped. Completely worthless. A tool that can be used against the oppressed. CII is just putting some make-up on the Law. Recommend

  • Amaar
    Dec 20, 2010 - 2:24AM

    This law has no place in Islam and has no compatibility with human valuesRecommend

  • Humanity
    Dec 20, 2010 - 5:52AM

    May Allah save Islam from Pakistan’

    En excellent narrative of the danger to Islam from the enemies within.

    http://www.dawn.com/2010/12/19/smokers%E2%80%99-corner-excursions-into-dystopia.htmlRecommend

  • Ajaya K Dut
    Dec 20, 2010 - 6:51AM

    Law should be retained as it is. Others countries should also follow example of this great country. India should also implement the law and should kill, in court or out of it, whoever defiles good name of Hindu god. And of course great friend of this great country, China, should kill everybody who gives bad name to sacred Dalai Lama.Recommend

  • Maken
    Dec 20, 2010 - 10:23AM

    Although it is an issue of Sharia. Capital punishment for blasphemy is too sever as majority of the incidents, the issue is “misused” by certain elements for their personal gains/benefits or some other agenda. It needs thorough deliberations.Recommend

  • Nuzhat Kidvai
    Dec 20, 2010 - 10:48AM

    First there is no Blasphemy law in Islam and can neither be derived from the Quran or the Sunnat of the Rasool (PBUH), therefore it should be repealed. Its a bad man made law by a hated dictator who was supported by only the religious groups who created it to gain control as anyone can be accused of Blasphemy and they are relying on mobs & street power to kill. We have seen its misuse & the damage it has done.

    There are 2 points about the recommendations by the CII that I would make.

    “If a charge is filed, the trial must be presided over by a Muslim Judge” is a faulty procedure to recommend. There are two clear faulty reasons

    The condition that it must be tried at the Sessions Court contradicts the recommendation that it should be tried in the High Court and only after a magistrate has already checked out that the evidence supports the charge before an FIR is registered against the accused.
    That the judge must be a Muslim shows bias against others and shows the expectation is that the Muslim Judge will have a bias in favour of the accuser and against the defendant. Normally in law, if a bias is even suspected, a defendant’s lawyer may reject such a person from being the presiding judge in the case, to avoid chances of injustice.

    The punishment recommended for a false accusation or false evidence must have a punishment equal to the Death Penalty as there is no recompense after death for any accused. In Blasphemy cases not only is the accused killed but his entire family is under threat of being killed and become fugitives. Hence the penalty for the accuser should be as high. The person killed was murdered, in which case, we are talking about a “life for a life”. False accusation should lead to a death penalty for the accuser as well. Recommend

  • Patriot
    Dec 20, 2010 - 1:35PM

    @Ajaya K Dut: Sino-Pak friendship “IRKS” you :D We know that :DRecommend

  • Usman N
    Dec 20, 2010 - 4:14PM

    the blasphemy laws and the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should both go. i think it is time for pakistan to move into the 21st century. enough!Recommend

  • akhtar
    Dec 21, 2010 - 12:15AM

    This is not an ugly law but a beautiful one. However its implementation is not good. It has been used for political reasons or to undermine the minorities. In fact it is not only for this purpose but for the development of Muslims specially, unfortunately never used for them. For instance Mullas in government are the main blasphemers by wrong doings making money by bribes, kickbacks by using the name of Muhammad (pbuh) and Quraan Pak. They perform Hajj and Umrah with that illegal (Harram) money. Recommend

  • Muhammad Ali Asghar
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:25AM

    It is indeed double facedness on part of the society that same kind of hate hospitality is not extended to a ‘gora Christian’ as would to a Pakistani Christian.
    The very basis of this law seems weak: Did the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself killed people who hurled abuses and filthy objects at him? No, instead he always asked God to guide these people, and resorted to forgiving them kindly. The story of old women heaping garbage on Prophet is in front of us. Similarly, Prophet forgave Hinda. Muslims on QTV and Peace TV mock and question the beliefs of non-Muslims everyday. Their words hurt, offend and belittle those non-Muslims. By that argument, these channels should also be banned because they offend non-Muslims. Or should only offense taken by Muslims be considered “true” offense?
    Going by the four sources of Islamic law we see that Qur’an is silent on the issue, from Sunnah, we see the opposite only (conduct of Prophet himself), we still do not have any consensus Ijma as yet, and Qiyas also does not give any analogical law to deduce such.
    Even if someone abuses Islam, our job is to guide them with love and kindness and convince through logic, not by the threat of hanging. My personal argument would be to make the use of this law very tough and only when solid evidences are based. Plus, we should generalize it to all prophets (which are dear to Muslims equally), and all holy books. In case of spurious claims, with malafide intentions those launching a case should be under a threat to be punished themselves.
    Just as we have the right to protest HR violations in Palestine, the westerns too are rightful in objecting to what they think are HR abuses in the name of discriminatory laws.
    Recommend

  • Shoaib Mir
    Dec 26, 2010 - 5:07PM

    Capital punishment for blasphemy is against the letter and true spirit of the Quranic injunctions yet the change that the Council for Islamic Ideology (C.I.I.) is proposing in the existing highly contentious legislation should be tactically supported and taken to its logical end. As a matter of pragmatism all democratic and secular forces should call the bluff of all political parties that have nothing to sell but religion. Very soon they will back out even from this nominal change. Maulana Fazal ur Rehman (JUI-F) is already on record to have stated that his party will resist any change whatsoever like “seesa pila’yee huee divaar.”Recommend

  • Mariam
    Jan 6, 2011 - 7:34PM

    i just hope the government takes action asap before any more innocent blood is shed …may pakistan be saved from mullasRecommend

  • Saeed Baloch
    Jan 13, 2011 - 8:08PM

    let be Human let be Pakistani must withdraw Blasphemy law . Pakistan need a secular constitution
    for betterment and a peaceful society We must remove all discriminatory articles from constitution Recommend

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