Blasphemy laws being misused: Asma Jahangir

Published: November 21, 2010
Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Lahore November 21, 2010.  PHOTO: REUTERS

Protesters hold up placards while demanding the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, at a rally in Lahore November 21, 2010. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir has said that the blasphemy laws are being misused in the country.

Her remarks come at a time when the Lahore High Court has sentenced the Christian mother of five, Aasia Bibi to death for blasphemy, under the controversial section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code.

Talking to media in London she said that the death penalty should be abolished from the country. She also said that such cases should be heard by the High Court. Asma Jahangir further said that changes should be made in the rules of death penalties.

She expressed her discontent with the performance of the government and said that the Army Chief should not have been given extension.

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Reader Comments (36)

  • Nov 21, 2010 - 9:09PM

    Blasphemy laws in one of the most corrupt countries in the world are a joke. These laws need to be repealed. Recommend

  • Nov 21, 2010 - 9:13PM

    I have no doubt in my mind that she was framed. EVEN IF she committed some disrespect, she should be sent through psychological and civil counseling so that she does not do it again. The Great Prophet of Islam (saw) endured ridicule most of his life without punishing any one who insulted and physically harmed him and his family.

    STOP THIS MADNESS and release Aisa Bibi honorably and let her go back to her children.Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Nov 21, 2010 - 9:43PM

    Asma. Thank you for putting it in words, Most of the countries have abolished death sentence and Pakistan should do the same especially in cases where murder or death is not involved. The controversial Blasphemy Law under its present form should be abolished. it is being misused against minorities, to settle personal vendetta and against poor and helpless.
    What worries me is even if she (Aasia Bibi ) is pardoned, Some vigilante will take the law into his own hand and carry out the punishment. Their are several thousand muslims living as minorities in different Christian countries who never face such LawsRecommend

  • Nov 21, 2010 - 10:29PM

    These “laws” are a “gift” from Ziaul Haq to torture the future generations of Pakistanis from his grave.Recommend

  • Asrar Ahmed
    Nov 21, 2010 - 11:02PM

    Ms Asma Janghir: please go and challenge the law in Supreme Court.Please do it urgently.Recommend

  • Humayun S Saif
    Nov 21, 2010 - 11:55PM

    Asma Jahangir knew this more than anyone of us, because she was dealing with these type cases from many years, been to those places talked to the victims analysis the situations. It is obvious if someone committed blasphemy either he/she has mental disorder and need help or the person would like to commit suicide!

    Everyone in Pakistan knows, there is punishment of death committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad. I wonder why we have double standard, in one places our so-called leader having fake degrees, stealing money of the government, mis-using the resources of the countries, stealing taxes, opening new business every forth-night, controlling the economy of the country etc etc.

    But we did not hear, the respective court(s) has issue any verdicts regarding those culprits who are responsible destroying the country and our nations.
    Is it not double standard?

    Why Court(s) are so weak issuing verdicts to political leader, coz they are influential? Recommend

  • A Suhail
    Nov 22, 2010 - 12:49AM

    There is only one law we muslim Pakistani’s love to respect and obey i.e Blasphemy Law!!!. Any other law is for the losers and we love to break the laws with impunity. We do not like to stop at red lights, we do not like to pay taxes and we will throw trash out of our cars and our house on the road even thought there is a law and a fine for doing it but we will not be deterred. So lets not repeal it otherwise we will become the most lawless state in the world.Recommend

  • KM
    Nov 22, 2010 - 1:30AM

    For abolishing the blasphemy law, but totally against abolishing death sentence. If we are sincere to this land and really want it to become the land of the pure, we should have death sentence even for punishing minor mistakes, may it be mere shop lifting. We need to make this the land of the pure and good from within, and only then we will become the strongest in the world.Recommend

  • Nov 22, 2010 - 2:10AM

    As Muslims we should protect innocents and seek to forgive and help others overcome hatred. But I am afraid we have become jahil mullah worshipping drones – thanks to zia ul haqs dance with mullahs beyond the pitRecommend

  • Sara Perriard Noor
    Nov 22, 2010 - 2:16AM

    We are the self-determined intellectual segment of the society, moderation is us. We must speak against everything popular in the society even though many a time we have no reason to. Wow! Defending such acts against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of All-Powerful generously be upon him) wrestles against the very essence of Islam which is giving high honor to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of All-Powerful generously be upon him). Should we not legalize liquor, prostitution, and other kinds of paganism, well other states have that permitted? Should not we had better demolish the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) and give Pakistan the status of a secular state? Reflect on a little carefully with what goal this country came into existence, nothing save that the freedom, the protection from any bound to practice Islam. None must have the legal right to play with our dearest emotions. If this act irks someone, leave the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Kamal Haider
    Nov 22, 2010 - 2:58AM

    The Express Tribune is becoming more a suitably favorite place of the like-minded folk to shelter themselves in and gossip against whatever is they have gotten against the Islam/Pakistan, whether it is often times Pakistan Army they are digging at with their mostly doctrinal and less critical nails of argument or as in this case, the blasphemy law. Funny! Whilst, majority of the Pakistanis hold the exact opposite views and it appears plus (I would that) forever they continue to hold them.Recommend

  • Yasir
    Nov 22, 2010 - 2:58AM

    Ms Asma Janghir: please go and
    challenge the law in Supreme
    Court.Please do it urgently.

    With Iftikhar Chaudhary in there? No use.Recommend

  • Humanity
    Nov 22, 2010 - 3:19AM

    @Sara Perriand Noor “Reflect on a little carefully with what goal this country came into existence, nothing save that the freedom, the protection from any bound to practice Islam. None must have the legal right to play with our dearest emotions. If this act irks someone, leave the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

    The country was founded to be a tolerant homeland where people would live free of hatred and bigotry. Read the Quaid’s speech of August 11, 1947.

    What about the dearest emotions of others? The Holy Prophet (saw) forgave the people who abused him. You want to hang a woman on false charges because your dearest emotions are more important than following the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (saw). Who are you and what are you? What sort of Islam you follow and what would sort of a violent, utopian Islamic Republic of Pakistan do you envision. God have mercy on you!Recommend

  • Asif Sheriff
    Nov 22, 2010 - 7:41AM

    Masjids in Pakistan have become the cesspool of extremism. If people have an urge to pray then simply let them pray at home. Offer a key to the masjid, only to those mullahs who have a PhD in Islamic studies and comparative religions.

    Save your breath and stop criticizing the strings associated with US Aid on Pakistani TV channels. Devote the energy lost in analyzing the Kerry Lugar Bill and why President went to India towards thinking of developing avenues in the direction of self-sufficiency so one day debt can be repaid.

    And finally, India has moved on. While Pakistan continues to wallow in self-destructive behavior.Recommend

  • Samuel Mathew
    Nov 22, 2010 - 8:13AM

    They made the law,and they interpret the law,and they sentence by their own law.
    Any way the law is not favor for the victim.Recommend

  • Abdul Rauf khan
    Nov 22, 2010 - 8:44AM

    This law of death for blasphemy, under the controversial section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code should be change urgently.Recommend

  • Nov 22, 2010 - 9:26AM

    Courts interpret what is written as law. Now it is the responsibility of the parliamentarians that they urgently review these laws in the best interest of nation including minorities. IRecommend

  • Azeem
    Nov 22, 2010 - 10:16AM

    Has anyone noticed that we only seem to run into these cases in the more backward parts of the country. I get the feeling that those accused end up being tried by inexperienced judges who dont have the ability to get over their own biases.Recommend

  • Gulnar Gill
    Nov 22, 2010 - 10:28AM

    Blasphemy law must be repeal….Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Nov 22, 2010 - 10:40AM

    Miss Sara seems to miss the True spirit of Islam and has a slanted view of the religion, Compassion and forgiveness is the main teaching of Islam. Every Surah begins with” Bismillah” Please take a lesson from it.
    Humanity you couldn’t have said it better. Way to goRecommend

  • Nov 22, 2010 - 12:13PM

    Hats off to these people in the picture who are protesting. The true heroes.Recommend

  • John Bosco
    Nov 22, 2010 - 4:49PM

    Asma, You are fighting against this law from the last 24 years. Now the coat is in your ball to file the case in the superemme court and ask for the justice from Iftikhar Chowdhry. I know CJ do not intervene in such cases due to political presure where he involves in Suggar crises. You are now the President of SC and this is your opportunity to file the case other wise this law will not be changed.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 22, 2010 - 6:06PM

    @Kamal Haider
    1. Do these laws not curb “freedom of speech”.
    2. How can one expect rural women to know about such a Law where majority of them are illiterate? I remember a case where a woman was charged under such a Law because she apparently used a page of THe Holy Quran to wrap. She was an illitrate woman. What does one do in such cases?Recommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 22, 2010 - 9:57PM

    “that the blasphemy laws are being misused in the country. ”

    Well, duuh!Recommend

  • Tamoor azhar
    Nov 22, 2010 - 11:15PM

    Blasphemy law is best to stop that type of asia case.if there is no existing that type of law .people should try to kill the victims.we shoud try to impliment that type of law in all over the world beyond the borders.plz dont release asia if she do that .Recommend

  • Yasir
    Nov 23, 2010 - 9:45AM

    Hats off to these people in the
    picture who are protesting. The true

    These are handful of Christians protesting. APMA = All Pakistan Minority Alliance. You wouldn’t see majority caught dead protesting such an issue.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 23, 2010 - 1:06PM

    @Tamoor Azhar,
    Pakistan and KSA are enough. Do not advocate implementing such Laws throughout the world. If anything, repeal such darconian and silly laws from these nations too.Recommend

  • Ajay
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:11AM

    Why aren’t lawyers and civil minded people not protesting on the streets from the majority community? Are they afraid of the label their religious minded brothers will put on them viz. Hindu-Jew-Christian lover or anti-Islam?? Shouldn’t they show courage? Shouldn’t Army exhort PPP leadership to do the right thing and reassure armed forces full support to counter and contain any disturbances from the “mad” guys even if they become torrents of protests? At this time the WORLD should have been witnessing multi movement protests on the streets of Pakistan for repeal of all such unsavory laws including hudood and the one that says minorities can’t apply for top jobs.

    If this doesn’t happen, it will only strengthen the opinion in the rest of the world that majority of Pakistani people support such laws not just the fringe elements. If this doesn’t happen, no matter how many Baluchistan packages you create and offer, Baluchis and others will know that Pakistan is devoid of basics so there is no hope.

    This is an opportunity of a life time that exists for all 3 sides- people/lawyers, army and PPP govt/party to create history, to create a new story for Pakistan that will be remembered for all times to come. If this happens..if PPP acts… then the bad guys in the Senate and lower house who don’t support will be exposed. Conversely this action will boost the morale of the good people of Pakistan and could trigger more positive changes.Recommend

  • Ajay
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:21AM

    Where is the student movement Where are the PPP and PML-N and Q party workers? Where is Imran Khan and his party- the Mr. Clean Image!! He seems to be always on the side of the Taliban.

    What we have seen so far are protests from the minorities or the religious parties of Pakistan for and against repeal of this law ! Other Pakistani’s from different walks of life need to show their protest visibly and on the streets. Let army and police be ready to support the protestors. or does Pakistani army harbor the same attitudes as the Jamat Islami and other such parties?Recommend

  • Ajay
    Nov 24, 2010 - 11:34AM

    Where is Nawaz Sharif, Shabaz? Zardari is probably afraid that if he speaks in favor of repealing this act, Nawaz and his brother may stay quiet as Imran and others surely will and then claim allegiance with the religious parties in the next elections. If the civilian parties are cowards, isn’t it time for the brave and respected Chief Justice and COAS Kayani to speak up and give their opinions publicly on this subject as Asma, Sherry and Marvi are doing? Are these 3 women the only one with guts inside Pakistan (apart from the bloggers here)? These 3 women are doing what men should be doing. Cowardly men!!Recommend

  • Allah-Licker
    Nov 26, 2010 - 5:47AM

    The sooner Pakistan is declared a rogue state, invaded and civilised, and the brutal religious extremism outlawed, the better for the rest of the world.
    My sympathies go to the minority of Pakistanis who have some decency.Recommend

  • forthright
    Nov 26, 2010 - 5:41PM

    Sara P Noor

    Re your comments, you have the right to say that if anyone does not want to follow the laws of the islamic republic of pakistan, they should leave, what about those who choose to come and live in non islamic countries and then try to force their view point and ideas of what they think is right on the majority, then I say to them, dont look to migrate to western or eastern or any unislamic country and if you dont like the way those people live – then LEAVE.

    Obviously you and yours have no idea of what decency, love and humanity is. IRecommend

    Nov 28, 2010 - 6:13AM

    On November 26 Pakistanis living in the United States have joined human rights group in urging the government to release Aasia Bibi and reconsider the laws that discriminate against minorities.

    I suggest them to raise their voice against the discriminatory legislation fo Pakistanis who encounter such laws as soon as they step up to the American Airports. Respect is for all humans, if the honour of Queen is protected in Britain then why not the Prophet (SAW) who is the identity of leadership of the Muslim World,comprising the largest population.

    Moreover we request to award imminent clemency to Dr. Afia in the exchange of Aasia Bibi.

    thanks and Regards
    Uzma BarryRecommend

  • Nov 28, 2010 - 4:44PM

    blasphemy —- is a big shame to our country . Recommend

  • Anthony
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:41AM

    @Uzma Barry.
    Have you ever been to the States and had this happen? If so are you a wanted criminal..Probably something this mother isn’t!
    Many, many people from Pakistan come to this Country and are living in peace, prosperity, and wouldn’t return to Pakistan if you “paid” them….Why? Because of this insane law. You will kill a mother of 5 because….you are afraid. But of what?
    I know that people have come here and have not been treated with anything except dignity if indeed they are decent people. And my definition is certainly far from yours I would imagine, because mine would never allow the murder of a woman with 5 children unless she committed the unforgivable, which of course is murder. Allah WOULD NOT sanction this! And you have no idea of what you are talking about. If you did you would know how many Pakistanis we have here who own businesses, who are happy and free….from your backward ridiculous superstitious mind. to think that a mother of 5 is a threat to Allah is just so ridiculous as to make you laughable! I am sorry, I do not like harsh words, but take a look at what you are doing please.
    I appeal to all in Pakistan to let this woman go back to her home and live her life without terror, in freedom..or would you rather one day face the same from Allah..because you will.Recommend

  • Muhammad Faisal
    Dec 7, 2010 - 8:35PM

    Well She has done disgrace to our Prophet(Muhammad S.A.W.W).. we can tolerate everything but this. Please all those non Muslim people if you don’t care about the dignity of your Prophets and religion then its not our fault… because we do care about Prophet and Religion. So the simplicity is as simple as this… please shout out for the innocent Muslims being tortured, murdered, disgraced and exploited everyday in IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN and many other areas… well non Muslims like Christian Americans, British doing all this to Muslims with out a Court and Law… still Pakistani Court have done something within Law and in Court. If she were innocent then she would have been released.. but she wasn’t so there she go. Recommend

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