Top Islamic advisory body: CII proposed death on blasphemy law misuse

Published: January 13, 2011
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In recommendations pending before parliament, CII had recommended the death penalty for anybody misusing the law.

In recommendations pending before parliament, CII had recommended the death penalty for anybody misusing the law.

ISLAMABAD: Amid a snowballing controversy about the blasphemy law, The Express Tribune has learnt that the top Islamic advisory council of the country had recommended the death penalty for anybody misusing the law. It had also recommended that only the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) hear blasphemy cases.

Hardline clerics and right-wing parties are opposed to any change in the blasphemy law which rights groups say can be used to settle personal scores.

With this in mind, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) proposed some changes to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law. “These recommendations have been pending before parliament for the past three years,” a senior official in the CII told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity.

The recommendations were made in 2001 when Dr SM Zaman was heading the CII and two top religious scholars – Mufti-e-Azam Pakistan Maulana Muhammad Rafi Usmani and Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman – were also its members. Religious scholars of all schools of thought and sects were represented on the council.

“The CII’s recommendations remain valid until and unless they are rejected by parliament,” added the official.

Since the FSC is made up of five regular judges and three top religious scholars (Ulema), the CII thought it was in a better position to hear blasphemy cases to ensure the law was not abused.

The council recommended capital punishment for anybody misusing the blasphemy law. “The wrongful complainant and witnesses in a blasphemy case should be handed similar punishment as a guilty person,” it says.

Islamic jurisprudence experts say that the misuse of blasphemy law is tantamount to blasphemy and therefore a person who is guilty of misuse of this law should be punished under the same law.

However, the CII strongly opposed any amendment in the blasphemy law, particularly in Section 295-C, so far as the penalties are concerned.

According to the CII recommendations, a few procedural changes need to be made to make the FSC hear blasphemy cases, said the official.

Asked why these recommendations have not been made public, the official said, “They are confidential because the government has not tabled them in parliament for legislation.” According to the rules, CII’s recommendations are confidential until presented to the parliament.

The government had not implemented CII’s recommendations and has not cited any reason despite repeated reminders from the council to the ministries of interior, religious affairs and law. “The CII had asked the three ministries to explain the reasons as to why its recommendations on Section 295-C of the blasphemy law were not implemented,” the official said.

The CII had made these recommendations after increasing complaints from rights activists about the misuse of the blasphemy law. “We have been making recommendations to the government from time to time to make the law acceptable to all,” another unnamed CII official told The Express Tribune.

Police have charged 1,274 people with blasphemy offences during the period between 1986 and 2010. Sixty per cent of the people charged were non-Muslims. Though several accused were murdered during or before trial, no judicial execution has taken place in the country so far.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Disoza
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:22AM

    The law itself shall be observed with respect and the misuse should not be there, if any.Recommend

  • Mir Agha
    Jan 13, 2011 - 7:52AM

    A welcome step. A country where the population of muslims is 97% and is designated as an ‘islamic republic’ by its people the blasphemy law can never be done away with. Instead of mindless blabbering about ‘liberal’ ideas from half-way around the world, Pakistan should ‘strengthen’ the blasphemy laws so as to get rid of the its misuse. Realism has to prevail. It would also be welcome that bad-mouthing other religions and sects can also be punishable by the laws. After all it is written in the Quran that hating others is against Islam. Only by engaging with the extremist elements can one bring about meaningful change. Rhetoric and theorizing will do no good. If Pakistanis (especially the ‘liberals’) are going to pretend that they care about democracy, they will have to deal with the sentiments of the vast majority who unfortunately want the blasphemy to stay. It is what it is.Recommend

  • faraz
    Jan 13, 2011 - 8:34AM

    CII members should pack their bags and leave the country; they might get killed for committing blasphemyRecommend

  • Shahryar+Ahmed
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:03AM

    Interesting, but then how will they ensure the investigation is not flawed. Sadly, very difficult to execute.Recommend

  • Umayr Masud
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:53AM

    Too many “Unnamed” officials in the story to be published as a front page item.Recommend

  • Babar
    Jan 13, 2011 - 10:57AM

    Fight fear with more fear. Looks more like a bandage solution and may provide some temporary relief to minorities. At the end, blasphemy law is not just inhumane but also unislamic and against teaching Quran and Sunnat.Recommend

  • parvez
    Jan 13, 2011 - 11:01AM

    Recommendations pending for 10 years, shows how much work our elected representatives to parliament do.Recommend

  • barlas
    Jan 13, 2011 - 11:02AM

    It is the duty of ULLAMA to make this Law according to Islamic Shira.Recommend

  • Asad Shairani
    Jan 13, 2011 - 11:15AM

    Interesting.Recommend

  • abdullah
    Jan 13, 2011 - 12:05PM

    gud work when v ave sharia court at least such matters should b dealt by them ..and violence is not he solution to the problemRecommend

  • Chandrakant
    Jan 13, 2011 - 12:51PM

    So much killing …… killing for blashemy and again for killing for miss use for blasphemy …. cant to think ahead of killing. How will you justify thsat Islam is a religion of peace?Recommend

  • Khan
    Jan 13, 2011 - 12:54PM

    While societies advance and make lives better for their people, we worry about notions like blasphemy!

    How come blasphemy is not an issue in Dubai, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia or any number of muslim countries? why is Pakistan so unique in regards to this subject? Recommend

  • Maryam
    Jan 13, 2011 - 2:39PM

    Well Done CII! A welcome step to stop the misuse of the law.Recommend

  • Sandy
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:34PM

    Finest possible advise Recommend

  • Sunil
    Jan 13, 2011 - 5:45PM

    Black laws can’t be misused, mere use of these kind of laws equals misuse of any sane law.
    Firstly it is very difficult for its victim to prove him/herself ‘not guilty’ and secondly this provision against so called ‘misuse'(use) can’t stop extra judicial killings of innocent victims of blasphemy law. There have been cases where acquitted victims were brutally lynched by inhuman mobs.
    The only solution is to go the secular way i.e. abandon this black law. Please don’t make ‘killing’ the universal solution. Isn’t it very visible that Blasphemy law starts and ends with killing only whether the so called crime of blasphemy is committed or not?

    Peace will prevail only when ‘Religion’ = ‘Brain + Humanity’Recommend

  • Ismat Alavi
    Jan 13, 2011 - 8:12PM

    Second best solution. Want to add that if some one
    takes the law in his hand should be punished harshly.Recommend

  • Jan 14, 2011 - 1:32AM

    In the ears of Pakistans Mullahs has the CII just put itself out of Islam?Recommend

  • [email protected]
    Jan 14, 2011 - 2:38AM

    Everything in Pakistan is confusing)=:Recommend

  • Fawzia
    Jan 14, 2011 - 1:15PM

    High Time V should do something to change this law. Well Done CII! A welcome step to stop the misuse of the law.Recommend

  • fazail
    Mar 3, 2011 - 11:36AM

    no change in blasphemy law needed

    some people say that there should be some mechanism to stop the misuse of blasphemy law they dont know that we have one

    section 194 of pakistan penal code is there to stop misuse
    according to it
    if a person is accused in a case in which the punishment is life imprisonment or hanging and registered case proves to be false then the person who registered the case and his witnesses will be given life imprisonment and if the person accused is hanged and later the case proves to be false then the person who registered the case and the witnesses will also be hanged
    those who have any objection on blasphemy law can see the decision of federal shariat court
    some people say that this law was given by zia but they dont know that it was passed by assembly in 1992
    so every one who will intrude in this religious no go area will face the musicRecommend

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