Media watch: The ugly face of the blasphemy law

The local and international press condemns the death penalty given to a Christian woman, for committing "blasphemy".


Atika Rehman November 16, 2010

Media watch is a daily round-up of key articles featured on news websites, hand-picked by The Express Tribune web staff.

Govt not to allow misuse of blasphemy law

The government will not allow anyone to misuse the blasphemy law in the country, Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti told journalists after attending the meeting of National Assembly Standing Committee on Minorities Affairs. He said protection to the life and property of minorities was the constitutional obligation of the government. He said Ministry of Minorities Affairs had written a letter to the Punjab government regarding Aasia Bibi, sentenced to death in a blasphemy case by a District and Sessions Court in Nanakana Sahib. Bhatti said the Ministry had asked the Punjab government to provide the accused all possible chances to plead her case on merit and ensure her protection in the jail. The minister said in most of the cases, blasphemy law was being misused to settle personal scores, political vendetta and religious enmities. He said the government was taking steps to stop misuse of the law. He said Aasia Bibi would be given opportunity to plead her case (dailytimes.com.pk)

A bad law that will haunt us

It seems more likely that she angered her tormentors in a theological discussion about the relative merits of Christianity and Islam. Such debates take place all the time among adherents of different faiths. Whichever it may have been, the law has created intolerable injustice for often powerless people and quite unacceptable restrictions on freedom of speech to which the state of Pakistan is committed… How can Asia Bibi and others be saved from the gallows? The blasphemy law is a bad law enacted under pressure from extremists who threaten violence if the government does anything to lessen its impact or to ameliorate the lot of those who have fallen victim to it. A bad law will always come back to haunt us and that is why our ultimate aim must be its repeal. (guardian.co.uk)

Lower courts’ justice system exposed

The Sheikhupura district and sessions court judgment highlights to the world what anyone who has ever traversed the muddy waters of Pakistan’s law-enforcement and judicial system knows all too well: the investigative capacity of the police is virtually non-existent and the police habitually caves in to Islamist-inspired mobs in the name of ‘preserving public order’, particularly when it comes to vendettas against religious minorities. Too often, the lower-level judiciary lacks the training to adjudicate within the framework of the law and frequently brings its own political and social prejudices to bear in its approach to the law. (dawn.com)

Nothing is going to happen

"Nothing is going to happen," insists Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab. Asia Bibi, the Christian woman accused of blasphemy, will not suffer a death sentence; he says it will be struck down by the higher courts. But Taseer adds: "Nevertheless, it is a disgraceful episode. It's an embarrassment for Pakistan."

The case is another grim reminder of how Pakistan's cruel blasphemy laws not only leave minority groups vulnerable, but even encourage their persecution. "These laws are used to victimise Christians and other groups. They are a foul leftover from the military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq," says Taseer. (independent.co.uk)

COMMENTS (19)

Adeel | 11 years ago | Reply The fact of the matter is there is a huge difference between christians and muslims and some kind of debate will always be there between Muslims and Chrisitans regarding their faith. For Christians Jesus Christ is the only way to God and no one is there to save humans after him. They do no believe Prophet Muhammad as Prophet of God. This is Christianity. This is their stance. If this is blashpehmy then every chrisitan who defends his religion comes under "blashpemy law" and should be killed. Muslims need to understand and accept this reality. If any muslim attack christianity and try to prove that it is wrong then in reply he has to listen some thing which he shouldn't regard as "Blashpemy".
Fahad Jatoi | 11 years ago | Reply Infidels have now gotten the back of Pakistani media, go on forever, the law will stay in place inshaAllah.
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