ISLAMABAD: As demonstrations continue to rage over anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ Interior Minister Rehman Malik appealed to the United Nations on Wednesday to frame laws prohibiting the publication and circulation of blasphemous material against Islam.
“The blasphemous movie is a conspiracy against the personality of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and we strongly condemn its content,” Malik said while addressing the media.
Endorsing the protesters’ point of view, he said, “It is not merely a cause of concern for religious scholars, the government is with you (protesters) over this blasphemous film as it hurt the feelings of every Muslim.”
The interior minister said that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) will also join the demonstrations announced by religious organisations on Friday against the anti-Islam movie.
However, Malik also directed the Crisis Management Cell to fully monitor the processions and asked hospital authorities to remain on high alert. He added that no one would be allowed to take the law into their own hands.
Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued a notice on Wednesday to the chairpersons of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulator Authority (Pemra) and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), as well as the interior and foreign secretaries for their replies by October 5 on a petition seeking a ban in Pakistan on access to blasphemous material on the internet. The petition sought action against these officers under the blasphemy law.
The petitioner accused the officers, whose replies have been sought, of being as responsible as the producer and director of the film by not blocking access to it in Pakistan. The court has also summoned Attorney General Irfan Qadir for assistance into the matter.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the LHC issued the notice on a petition filed by Azizur Rehman Sani, a representative of the Almi Majlis-e-Tahafuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwat.
The judge also directed a ban on the sale of any blasphemous material available on CDs and directed cable operators not to air such material.
Arguing before the court, the petitioners’ counsel Chaudhry Ishtiaq said that PTA did not live up to its responsibility regarding the blasphemous video, adding that links of the video are still available on the internet in order to “hurt and infuriate Muslims of the country”.
Ishtiaq said pictures, movies and dramas on the lives of any of the prophets were not allowed in the light of the Federal Shariat Court’s orders. Ishtiaq claimed that it was under the Pemra chairperson’s authority that videos and films made on the lives of prophets were “being broadcast on cable networks all over the country”.
The petitioner prayed to the court that that an inquiry team be appointed to look into the matter. (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR CORRESPONDENT IN LAHORE.)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.