Protestors warn of anarchy if blasphemy law changed

Published: December 24, 2010
Pakistani Islamists shout slogans during a rally in Lahore threatening anarchy if the Blasphemy Act is amended. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani Islamists shout slogans during a rally in Lahore threatening anarchy if the Blasphemy Act is amended. PHOTO: AFP


Thousands of protestors rallied in major cities on Friday threatening further protests and anarchy if the government moves to amend a controversial blasphemy law.

A ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker sparked outcry last month by seeking to end the death penalty for blasphemy, after a Christian mother of five was sentenced to hang for defaming the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Demonstrators marched in the eastern city of Lahore, the port city of Karachi and the central city of Multan, after influential religious parties called for protests to defend the law.

A crowd of nearly 1,500 people gathered in Lahore, calling for “Jihad” and pledging to sacrifice their lives to protect the honour of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

They also warned that attempts to soften the law would trigger nationwide protests.

“Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and we will not tolerate any attempt to amend the law,” a leader of the pro-Taliban Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), Maulana Ahmad Khan told the participants.

Former information minister and lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party government, Sherry Rehman in November submitted a draft bill in the lower house seeking an end to death penalty under the existing law.

Rights activists also say the law encourages extremism in a nation already beseiged by Taliban attacks.

Addressing a separate rally of over 500 people in Lahore, a leader of the banned charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Husnain Siddiqui said, “We will launch a national movement against all those lawmakers, who support efforts to amend the law.”

Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi’s case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country.

In the port city of Karachi, more than 2,000 people rallied against Rehman’s proposed draft bill and demanded the government serve Bibi a severe punishment for insulting Muhammad (PBUH).

Bibi was arrested in June 2010 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields.

Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.

Leaders of JUI and radical Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party warned that the government would “face a strong reaction if Bibi was pardoned.”

“The government should forget about amending the blasphemy law as any attempt in this regard will prove fatal,” a local religious leader Yahya Ludhianvi said.

Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts.

Rights activists and pressure groups say it is the first time that a woman had been sentenced to hang in Pakistan for blasphemy.

Only around three percent of Pakistan’s population of 167 million are estimated to be non-Muslim.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • ASQ
    Dec 24, 2010 - 7:41PM

    lol as there is less anarchy in this country!!!!!!Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Dec 24, 2010 - 7:50PM

    Many people who are released by the court for blasphemy offenses end up getting killed, some even in court premises. I think once and for all these religious parties need to show if they are with Pakistan or the Taliban.Recommend

  • Talha
    Dec 24, 2010 - 7:53PM

    Charge these people with sedition and quell any religious movement in pakistan by breaking its back.

    Only then will Pakistan work.Recommend

  • sunny
    Dec 24, 2010 - 7:53PM

    Indeed blasphemy law must stay as it is. However, incidents of alleged blasphemy must be thoroughly investigated and only then a ruling be given.Recommend

  • watchman
    Dec 24, 2010 - 7:56PM

    Our country is full of intolerant mullahs..The derogatory statements from a cleric of Peshawar and the statements from the orthodox parties shows our(ppl) inhumane side to us and the world.
    For God’s sake plz done encourage these mullahs who want to bring talibanisation to our beloved country.. Recommend

  • Dec 24, 2010 - 8:11PM

    How about waging some jihad and protest against the increasing incidence of rape? Recommend

  • Humanity
    Dec 24, 2010 - 8:11PM

    Those who think the honor of the Holy Prophet (saw) is dependent on these enraged, loud and intolerant denizens, raise your hand. These are bullies in action, trying to safe guard their religious goodies that they peddle for their own self-preservation. These lying, denizens were against the creation of Pakistan ..Recommend

  • malik
    Dec 24, 2010 - 8:13PM

    There should be law for being Maluvi in Pakistan. Anyone can understand what is their make. Unfortunatley such creatures exist in Pakistan quite much.Recommend

  • amir
    Dec 24, 2010 - 8:21PM

    lock these terrorist behind the bars and hang them infront of SC…let it make an example that Islam does not need blasphemy type of laws…blasphemy law violates Prophet Mohammad (SAW) stance for Islam…need to abolish this law…Recommend

  • Wellwisher of Pkistan
    Dec 24, 2010 - 8:24PM

    Unless these peoples are tackled, no improvement for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Feroz Khan
    Dec 24, 2010 - 9:15PM

    The blasphemy law will never be repealed in Pakistan. There is no political will to amend or repeal this law as all political parties and all politicans, including the military, use religion as a tool of political legitimacy. Pakistan is a theocratic state. Period. Anyone thinking otherwise is living in an utopia. For 64 years, the people where told that this nation was created in the name of Islam and now, they are rightly demanding that those promises be fulfilled and this nation be governed according to Islam and Islamic laws. It is time to pay the piper!Recommend

  • Cautious
    Dec 24, 2010 - 9:23PM

    You don’t protest when religious zealots blow up innocent people in Mosques? You don’t protest when a Candidate for PM is assassinated? You don’t protest when your politicians steal money that was designated for humanitarian purposes. But you do protest when someone suggest changing a barbaric law that kills people for saying something that offends your religious beliefs.

    And you wonder why the World thinks poorly of Pakistan?Recommend

  • faraz
    Dec 24, 2010 - 9:23PM

    Molana Burqa of Lal masjid kidnapped people and killed army personel; when the operation was launched he escaped and left behind those teeenagers that he had provoked. But why isnt he punished? Why is he allowed to live as a respectable citizen? Why do these mullah ignore Quran and Sunnah when it comes to their own acts? There is no concept of Blasphemy in Quran and Sunnah, but is there any doubt about the punishment of murder in Islam? Recommend

  • Ibrahim
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:11PM

    Hey guys the only thing which needs to be done is monitoring of such cases and as Islam doesnt let u disrespect other religions so should be the case for Islam and I dont understand how on Earth could someone tolerate such an incidence, I am against so called Taliban and so called Mullahs but remember its something related to the dignity of Islam and all of u there would never accept if someone say something bad against your family and when it came to the best of human being Muhammad (PBUH) you people talk as if I am watching western Media.Recommend

  • R.Raheem
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:14PM

    AAZ should teach a lesson to Mullah’s who have hijacked this country! Repeal the blasphemy laws as soon as possible!Recommend

  • Humanity
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:18PM

    This comment is not showing for some reason ..

    These mullahs and their supporters are hypocrites. The state is a party to their hypocrisy. Their crimes are punishable under Section 295-A for up to 10 years in prison, or with fine, or with both.

    Read : Double Standards of Our Kharjites

    “Now let us review the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, which are always used to persecute minorities but never protect them. 295-A for example says, “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of the citizens of Pakistan, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 10 years, or with fine, or with both.”Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:38PM

    Protestors warn of anarchy if blasphemy law changed

    Tell me if I am wrong but isn’t Pakistan an anarchy already. Maybe very near the edge. Recommend

  • Someone
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:50PM

    Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and is also being destroyed in the name of Islam. Ironic, isn’t it?Recommend

  • karim
    Dec 24, 2010 - 10:50PM

    blasphemy laws should be changed through a process,,,,,it is a must to change….in the name of Islam some people have received monopoly,,,, Recommend

  • parvez
    Dec 24, 2010 - 11:08PM

    The government must display some backbone and stand firm.
    When put to the test this will prove to be all bark and no bite.Recommend

  • Babs
    Dec 24, 2010 - 11:52PM

    I never saw these people protesting when a “maulvi” was caught dipping his finger in Hajj money. Recommend

  • Ali Zaidi
    Dec 25, 2010 - 12:40AM

    Just because there are questions about how fairly a law is implemented, does not mean the law should be done away with. We should work at making our police and judiciary fair and impartial and stop blaming the law.Recommend

  • Noor Nabi
    Dec 25, 2010 - 12:46AM

    Pakistan was not created in the name of an intolerant and violent ideology. These mullahs are the children of Zia’s cancerous thinking. They should understand that parliament is supreme and whatever is decided by it shall prevail. The days of military rule are over and have been tossed into the dustbin of history.Recommend

  • sanjithmenon
    Dec 25, 2010 - 2:17AM

    looking at history, there were only two, monarchs who had defied the ulema, one was Allahudin Khilji of the Slave dynasty and the other was Akbar, the great. thats just two in a period of say 600 yrs! We in India say, that, ZAB was the Darah Shikoh of Pakistan. He was killed and replaced by Aurangazeb, the Zia of modern times. The fall of mughal empire started after AurangazebRecommend

  • Gohar Ababs
    Dec 25, 2010 - 2:34AM

    These mullahs don’t even know what the blasphemy law is all about. Like a flock of sheep they are brought to the streets by right wing political party leaders and clerics. M sure more than half of the protesters brought to the streets were hungry or thinking about their next meal!
    Throughout Islamic history, mullahs have remained slaves of the state. they have always worked for the interest of monarchs and rulers as their B team.One should not expect mullahs to change their mind on the said issue but expect the government and human rights advocacy groups to create awareness among the general public-that largely comprises of illiterate- about blasphemy laws.
    The biggest segment of the society-the illiterates or have-nots- are always being ignored by the smaller portion-the elite-so mullahs take maximum advantage and brain wash majority of the population.
    Zia is cursed by democratic yippee, dictators, relegio-political and religious leaders alike but his introduced ‘law’ is apple of the eyes of everyone! folly…
    I suggest the liberal and progressive people to pack and prepare to leave otherwise opposing blasphemy law might include them among those to be stoned by the mullahs for blasphemy… Recommend

  • Umair Mallick
    Dec 25, 2010 - 2:36AM

    Army should take every step to safeguard this country from the hands of such ignorants if politicians are crippled. How long will these snakes continue to bite our culture and humanity? Although these are just handful in number, if we are really honest to our country and religion we should crush these mullahs and their so called version of Islam without any delay. Enough is enough….Recommend

  • Haris+Chaudhry
    Dec 25, 2010 - 3:53AM

    Return of the enraged, chanting, sloganeering, raging mob of bigots that would oppose a draconian law.

    The genie of hatred, intolerance and jihad is out of the bottle. I am convinced that the Pakistani state is a hostage to tens of millions of intolerant people that dont know any better and will fight to death against making Pakistan a progressive modern democracy.

    I feel no hope.


  • Dec 25, 2010 - 5:02AM

    lol at all these mullahs…. dun they know that there is a peace way as well to resolve this issue… Is it always necessary for all of us to protest everytime and spreading anarchy and making loss of the country by damaging all those thing which they pay for in shape of tax….

    I guess the best way to resolve this issue is to sit face-to-face with the authorities and coming up with a both-sided agreed solution…. When we can resolve issues like NFC Award and 18th amendment peacefully by talking face-to-face with all the stakeholders, then why not this issue as well….

    Not only these Mullahs, all those who do protests and strikes and specially those protests in which country’s assets are damaged by the protestors are all foolx….

    But protest for sugar/petrol/ fees hike is ok but still it should all be done in a civilized way……Recommend

  • Shah
    Dec 25, 2010 - 5:21AM

    Heads without brains…….Recommend

  • x-man
    Dec 25, 2010 - 6:20AM

    look who have we got “”JUI and Jamat e islami”” JUI banned and there leaders are threatning GOP more than good reason to nab these thugs now and jamatis should be sent back to their cousins in muslim brother hood in egyptRecommend

  • Ailia Zehra
    Dec 27, 2010 - 9:52PM

    God! What the hell is going to stop them from doing this shutter down and all. The bill presented by Sherry Rehman demands amendments in this law. Repealing is not demanded. I guess they should end this policy of ‘main na manoo’ and think with an open and peaceful mind if they have one.Recommend

  • Shahid
    Jan 31, 2011 - 8:25AM

    Dont we already have Anarchy, What is gonna change anyway. Our beloved country is remembered in the same sentence with Afghanistan. These Mullahs are the munafiqeens for whom Allah says in Surah-e-Baqra “And when it is said to them”Create not disorder in the earth,’ they say,’We are only promoters of peace. Beware! it is surely they who create disorder, but they do not preceive it.” and “They are deaf, dume and blind; so they will not return.” Recommend

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