Blasphemy law : Speak now or forever hold your peace

Compassion is the key to tolerance, say speakers.

Saher Baloch/samia Saleem April 17, 2011


Blasphemy and its punishment, what can and cannot be justified in the name of Islam and whether the religion preaches reconciliation or intimidation. Such key issues were addressed at the Jashn-e-Faiz’s session “Charter of Compassion and Tolerance and Intolerance”.

“Any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate,” said Abbas Husain, a member of the Faiz Centennial Committee who talked on the principle of compassion. He said that we urgently needed to make compassion a luminous and dynamic force in our polarised world in order to break down political, dogmatic and religious boundaries.

“Each and every one [of us] has been equally affected by intolerance in our society and as a result, we have terrorism in the north, target killing in Karachi and bomb blasts all over the country,” he said.

So far in the country’s history, 45 people have been convicted of blasphemy, out of which 17 were psychiatrically ill. “Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put the other there,” he told The Express Tribune.

The session was open for public comment during which students and other visitors shared their views and grievances. One commenter, however, changed the perception of tolerance in our society. “I don’t think we have become intolerant. I think we have become more tolerant. We are now more tolerant to killings and more tolerant to injustice,” remarked Dr Taimur Rehman of Laal band.

“The session was interactive enough for me to develop my own opinions rather than [continue] relying on what is largely believed about the blasphemy law,” said a Karachi University student, Shaheen Ashraf.

Natiqa Fayyaz, a volunteer with the CFD, said religious topics such as the Blasphemy Laws always get “extreme reactions”. “But irrespective of what they [audience] believed in, it was good to see that people were listening to the speakers and giving their opinions or asking questions where they felt confused.”

Organiser Mohsin Sayeed said that the most important part of the seminar was that the laws were discussed openly rather than in “closed rooms or in hushed tones”. “This,” he felt, “was a beginning for sure”.

The openness of the discussion exuded the philosophy and ideology of Faiz. Bol, ke lab azaad hain tere...

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th,  2011.


Nuzhat Kidvai | 11 years ago | Reply People try to shout down others when on a weak wicket. The mullas are on a weak wicket, because they know, like do all Muslims who have read the Quran, that the Blasphemy law made by Zia & his mulla cohorts does not find legitimacy from the Quran or the Sunnat of the Prophet (PBUH). Zia's Law on Blasphemy was created as a tool for political control that Zia needed. It is made in such a way that it can be used easily by any one to kill and get rid of an enemy. It only requires incitement to kill by accusing someone of Blasphemy. Persons using this law know they need to just accuse of Blasphemy and other people will kill for them. The reason why the mullas are so insistent about keeping this law intact is, because they do not want the law to lose its power as a killing tool.
Ikramuddin Akbar | 11 years ago | Reply There is a difference between an accountability of insulting the prophet of a religion and as a result retaliation through violence, No religion has any right to insult another religion's prophet. So why are they insulting our prophet it's because they are trying to ignite us and they know where to hit us that hurts us most, and they also know we don't reject prophets who had been sent before the revelation of Islam and they are taking advantage of this. It's their government's responsibility to arrest that person and punish him appropriately.Have u ever heard a Jews insulting Jesus or a Christian insulting Moses.You will probably not.
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