CRSS report: 52 murdered in two decades over blasphemy

Published: September 8, 2012
Chairman of the Ulema Council alleges Rimsha accused in order to force Christians out. PHOTO: AFP

Chairman of the Ulema Council alleges Rimsha accused in order to force Christians out. PHOTO: AFP


Ever since the introduction of stringent amendments in blasphemy laws under General Ziaul Haq’s rule, more people suffered from communal clashes than ever in the sub-continent. Since 1990 alone, fifty-two people have been extra-judicially murdered on charges of blasphemy.

The number of blasphemy-related incidents shot up during Zia’s rule, during which 80 cases were reported to the courts compared to only seven such cases reported during the British rule from 1851 to 1947.

This information was revealed in a report titled: ‘Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan; Historical Overview’ launched on Friday by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS).

Ahmadis, it was found, after initially being declared a minority in 1974, have suffered the most as a result of blasphemy laws, which were changed by Ziaul Haq. However, those sentenced to death also included Muslim clerics, teenagers and old men, the report stated. Since 1987, more than 247 blasphemy cases were registered or raised, directly affecting the lives of some 435 people.

Speaking at the occasion of the launch of the report, Chairman of the Ulema Council of Pakistan, Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said that Rimsha Masih’s was a test case for state and society in Pakistan to divorce its past of religious persecution.

Ashrafi alleged that the blasphemy laws were being abused by some powerful elements with religious and political backgrounds to achieve their own interests. Citing Rimsha’s case, he alleged that the accusation was aimed at forcing the Christian community to vacate the Mehrabadia area in order to create a religious seminary there.

Peter Jacob, executive secretary at the Church-run National Commission for Justice of Pakistan, said that there was an acute need to revisit and review the blasphemy laws in the country. The CRSS report said that among the 52 people extra-judicially murdered for being implicated in blasphemy charges, 25 were Muslims, 15 were Christians, five were Ahmadis, one was Buddhist and one was Hindu. Known blasphemy cases in Pakistan show that from 1953 to July 2012 there were 434 ‘offenders’ in Pakistan, among them 258 were Muslims,114 Christians, 57 Ahmadis and four Hindus.

One case cited in the report was that of Hafiz-e-Quran Dr Sajjad Farooq, who was beaten to death by religious vigilantes in Gujranwala on false blasphemy charges in April 1995. Another case cited in the report was that of seven people who were burnt alive and 18 others injured in Gojra in 2009 over the alleged descecration of the Holy Quran by a Christian community member, the report said.

Some of the incidents of blasphemy recorded  in the overall record  included the design of a house of worship for Ahmadis, throwing a visiting card in the dust bin, a quote from the Holy Quran by a pastor, a child’s name, a spelling error and calling the law a ‘black law,’ said the report.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 8th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

    Sep 8, 2012 - 11:54AM

    references plz . . . . numbers are not sufficient . .

    if there were no ” Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan ” . . . every blasphemy will be ignore by Muslims ??

    Gojra’s Muslims and Christians both familiar with ” Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan ” ??


  • human
    Sep 8, 2012 - 12:13PM

    only 52?! just add a couple of zeroes to 52Recommend

  • Ali
    Sep 8, 2012 - 1:29PM

    The blasphemy law is the most primitive and tribal law that could be implemented. Shows the failure of the so-called elites to bring fore a modern advanced state on secular basis. It is horrible how the right wing is taking stand and have again and again made radical steps, while the “liberal” elites sip tea and watch people burned beaten for such inhumane laws.


  • Karim Buksh
    Sep 8, 2012 - 4:04PM


    Yours is a common perception that these offences will go unpunished if Zia era blasphemy laws are repealed. But there are other blasphemy laws that exist in the Penal Code dating from British times. Of these the most relevant is 295-A which covers all kinds of blasphemy. All the present genuine instances of blasphemy could be registered under that law. Its advantage is that it is much more difficult to misuse compared to Zia era laws that were passed without any consultation and poorly drafted. Badly drafted laws can be misused and that has what has happened over the last two decades. Time to get rid of laws passed by dictators trying to win cheap popularity and revert back to laws that were sensible and penalized genuine blasphemy.


  • Enlightened
    Sep 8, 2012 - 7:42PM

    Dictators like Zia made such laws only to extend their rule and not for love of the Prophet who always preached compassion and forgiveness to all Muslims during his life time.


  • Aziz Bhatti
    Sep 8, 2012 - 8:35PM

    Blasphemy law of Pakistan (I’m talking about 295-C not 295-A) was an “humble” effort of late Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq sahib to get rid of “Qadiani” But even Zia sahib didn’t know that this law will start haunting his own “Official Muslims”. A must read by Ass. Prof. Asad Ahmad of Harvard University, USA:
    Sorry for English reads I can’t translate this. Recommend

    Sep 8, 2012 - 11:51PM

    Dictators like Zia . . . all the time people mentioning and bashing Zia . . .

    first of all ” Dictators ” a plural word , any one must mention more than 1 name if he/she using plural word . .

    @Karim Buksh

    PPP: Benazir Bhutto Prime Minister, 1988–1990 and 1993–1996

    Pervez Musharraf: 20 June 2001 – 18 August 2008

    PPP: 2008 – 2013 . . .

    approximately 17 years . . . where were/ are you people in these 17 years . . how many years more needed to “get rid of laws passed by dictators” . . . ???


  • surelySure
    Sep 9, 2012 - 2:04AM

    its not a a bad law..its mechanics and implementation requires review which was discussed by Salman Taseer and Bhutee. The result of ‘discussion’ u know better….
    So, our law makers cant take risk!Recommend

  • salman
    Sep 9, 2012 - 9:34AM

    Let’s call a spade a spade and admit all blasphemy laws are ridiculous.


  • Vigilant
    Sep 9, 2012 - 11:56AM

    Majority of muslims…..a fact unknown to me


  • Nina
    Sep 10, 2012 - 7:29PM

    “434 ‘offenders’ in Pakistan, among them 258 were Muslims,114 Christians, 57 Ahmadis and four Hindus.”

    Isn’t this an interesting fact. 114 Christians, 57 Ahmadis and four Hindus have been prosecuted under this law or should I say persecuted- in a country where Christians and other religious minorities make only 2% of the population and Muslims: 98%.

    The blasphemy law is supposed to prohibit blasphemy against any religion, how many cases are there of the blasphemy law used against individuals usually Islamic militant who desecrate religious building and sacred item of other minorities such as destruction of church building, especially when there is accusation of blasphemy by a person from the Christian community.

    The law is flawed as a matter of fact a joke. No evidence is ever brought forward especially in cases of verbal exchange where a person is charged with blasphemy, as repeating what they are accused of would make the accuser a blasphemer.

    Pakistanis themselves in their heart know that a law that seems to prey on the weak is worthless. Laws are there to protect the weak of the society and not the other way round.


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