Lawyers strike to mourn blasphemy defence lawyer

Published: May 8, 2014
Advocate Rashid Rehman was shot thrice. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

Advocate Rashid Rehman was shot thrice. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

MULTAN: Lawyers in Multan went on strike Thursday to mourn a colleague who was shot dead for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy.

Gunmen stormed the office of defence lawyer Rashid Rehman on Wednesday evening and started firing indiscriminately, shooting him and two of his associates. Rehman, 50, was pronounced dead in hospital.

“We are observing a strike and no lawyer will appear in any court today to mourn and protest the killing of our colleague,” Sher Zaman Qureshi, president of the District Bar Association Multan, told AFP.

“We demand that the killers of Rashid Rehman should be arrested immediately,” Qureshi said.

He added that Rehman had told the association he had received death threats and they had asked the police to provide security, but the request was declined.

“Rashid Rehman had informed us that he was being threatened by various people to stop defending the blasphemy case, otherwise he will be killed,” Qureshi said.

Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who is accused of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in March last year.

Hafeez was known at the university for his liberal views and the blasphemy case was registered after pressure from right-wing student groups, according to a student who did not wish to be named.

An official at the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that for a year, no lawyer was prepared to take up the case over fears of attacks from extremist religious groups.

But Rehman, who was also a rights activist and coordinator of the HRCP, decided to defend Hafeez.

During the first hearing in March this year, which took place inside a prison for security reasons, Rehman received threats from the complainant’s lawyers.

“During the hearing the lawyers of the complainant told Rehman that he wouldn’t be present at the next hearing as he would not be alive,” said the HRCP in a statement issued after the incident in March.

Rehman was threatened in the presence of the judge, according to the HRCP.

Pakistan has strict blasphemy laws and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes.

A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences on blasphemy charges.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • Parrot
    May 8, 2014 - 1:51PM

    Why don’t PTI, JI and PAT join hands to protest against such incidents? I wonder.


  • M
    May 8, 2014 - 1:58PM

    All thanks to right-wing parties like PML-N and PTI. Well done.


  • Ad.
    May 8, 2014 - 2:35PM

    Strike on killing of blasphemy defense lawyer and Support the killer of Salman Taseer ??


  • Naseem Islam
    May 8, 2014 - 2:44PM

    So sad.


  • Jyotika
    May 8, 2014 - 3:13PM

    Well done Pakistan.


  • SRahman
    May 8, 2014 - 4:42PM

    A tragic but brave ending of a human loving person and lawyer. Innal lillahe wainna alaihe rajeon. People like him are very rear commodity in Pakistan, many of us have been poisoned with extremism and rest are coward enough to close eyes on the atrocities being committed on the name of religion. The State is the most impotent, bigot and spineless of all. Only a divine help can get us out from this ugly mess. We, the people of insane society, are just watching the loss of Rashid Rehman.


  • mateen saeed
    May 8, 2014 - 5:23PM

    New addition in Shaheeds of humanity.


  • Candid1
    May 8, 2014 - 6:07PM

    Why are they striking now? Where were they when Salman Taseer’s killer was being garland by their fraternity? Hypocrites!


  • shahid
    May 8, 2014 - 7:16PM

    In our courts such brave lawyers are threat in front of judges but no one cares. what a nation…


  • syed baqar ahsan
    May 8, 2014 - 11:24PM

    A gentleman gone fighting for humility with such a brutality


  • Eddied
    May 8, 2014 - 11:32PM

    Blasphemy laws in the 21 st century are insanity…they result in no good …they are abused and, in a new low even for Pakistan, even a lawyer doing his job of defending a person accused can be murdered….why do the normal people let the extremists get away with this…is life so bad in Pakistan that anyone who would speak against this law may be killed?…I guess the truth is in the facts…life really is that bad in Pakistan…


  • unbelievable
    May 9, 2014 - 12:08AM

    During the first hearing in March this year, which took place inside a prison for security reasons, Rehman received threats from the complainant’s lawyers.

    If that happened in the USA the judge would have tossed the complainants’ attorneys into jail, initiated proceeding to remove their license to practice law, and referred the matter to the city/state prosecutors for prosecution. In Pakistan the judge ignores the matter and Rashid Rehman gets murdered. There is something terribly wrong with Pakistan’s judicial system – it’s as though you lack a basic moral compass.


  • May 9, 2014 - 12:27AM

    ” .. he was being threatened by various people to stop defending the blasphemy case, otherwise he will be killed” —- These people (and that is really being generous) need to re-read the Holy Book again. My sincerest of condolences to Mr. Rashid and his family.


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