A prominent cleric on Friday offered a reward of half a million rupees for executing Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who was sentenced to death by a court on charges of blasphemy.
Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, the Khateeb of the historic Masjid Mohabaat Khan in Peshawar, offered a Rs500,000 reward for anyone who kills Aasia, Online news agency reported.
Qureshi also warned the government against any move to abolish or change the blasphemy law.
“No president, no parliament and no government has the right to interfere in the tenets of Islam. Islamic punishment (according to Muslim jurisprudence) will be implemented at all costs,” said Maulana Qureshi.
“We will strongly resist any attempt to repeal laws which provide protection to the sanctity of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” Qureshi is reported to have told a rally. “Anyone who kills Aasia will be given Rs500,000 in reward from Masjid Mohabat Khan.”
“We expect her to be hanged and if she is not hanged then we will ask the mujahideen and the Taliban to kill her.”
Jamaat-i-Islami’s provincial spokesperson Israrullah has said that the case should be dealt with in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the land. He said that whatever Maulana Qureshi had said was his own personal opinion and not the party’s stated position.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government, said that the case is still in court and its decision will be acceptable to everyone. He said such decisions cannot be taken on the streets.
Latif Afridi, a renowned lawyer and a former president of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association, said that no one in their right mind could make such a statement, referring to the Maulana’s statement regarding Aasia Bibi. He said that these are “a mad person’s words and are contrary to basic human rights”. He added that such remarks constituted an open threat to someone’s life and stern action should be taken against such an act. Article 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code can be applied in this case, he added.
SSP (operations), Peshawar, Ijaz Ahmed said that he was in no position to say anything definitive in this context but if a legal opinion comes from departments concerned, he would follow the law and take the prescribed route.
with input from REUTERS and our correspondent
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2010.