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Christianity Under Fire Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Jamie, United States Nov 23, 2005
Human Rights , Peace & Conflict   Opinions


Blasphemy law 295c was instituted in 1986 in Pakistan. The law states that any person who “ by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly defiles the name of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, is liable for blasphemy and, in addition to a fine, shall be punished with a death sentence or life imprisonment.” This law is outrageous in that it violates the human rights laws of the United Nations, which Pakistan joined September 30, 1947.

There are several reasons why I am so outraged. The wording of blasphemy law 295c is extremely vague, enabling it to be manipulated in the favor of the accuser. This allows blasphemy charges to be founded on false or malicious grounds. Those in disagreement with me say that the majority of charges are well founded, but I feel that in most cases this is far from the truth.

It is not uncommon for the instigator of criticism to be motivated by prejudice, self gain, and professional rivalry or out of religious discrimination. In fact, it is often used to intimidate or punish religious minorities. The vague nature of the law allows for an unfair trial of the accused even though Pakistan's constitution guarantees that “every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice and propagate his religion." For example, the prosecution is often allowed to rely on unsubstantiated testimony where the defendant’s words are usually taken out of context; the testimony of one Muslim man is all that is required to sentence the accused to death. This shows that the accusations are based on prejudice and hate.

Another reason that I disagree with this law is because its very existence encourages hostility against non-Muslims. If on the rare occasion the accused is found not guilty they are often murdered, tortured or forced to flee the country by Muslim extremists under the pretext of punishing blasphemers. Many extremists interpret the law as a license to kill and do so. In many Pakistan mosques Muslims are taught that those who blaspheme should be killed immediately and that protecting them is just as bad as blaspheming yourself. This creates a false sense that Muslims are duty bound to kill those accused under this law. However, some oppose this argument.

Some say that this is simply a carrying out of justice that was not done by the state, I disagree with this. It is the country of Pakistan’s duty to try the accused, no matter what the charges and it should remain in their hands. If the defendant is found not guilty, they should be given protection by the state or if the country refuses to give them protection they should be sent to the U.S. to seek asylum. This violence is merely a show of extreme hate and is not in the least bit right.

Another reason why I believe that this law is ridiculous is that it allows a distortion of the basic laws of prosecution. For example, anyone accused under this law can be arrested without a warrant and imprisoned without bail; in fact the accused is often imprisoned for years without a trial. This is unwarranted as it neglects the human rights under the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 10 and 11 of the accused. These rights guarantee a fair public trial, equal protection. It also neglects the country's own constitution which guarantees that all citizens are equal before the law and cannot be held for more than a year. During this time, the prisoner is often taunted by their fellow prisoners, humiliated, and sometimes killed.

My opponents might say that the prisoner is not given bail because of the possibility that they will run away and for their own protection. I feel that this is in no way protecting them as the prisoners are often beaten and abused by their guards. This argument also applies to long imprisonment during which the prisoners are sometimes killed by guards or fellow inmates. This is a direct violation of Article 5 of the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

In conclusion, the Blasphemy law 295c is absolutely appalling and should be eliminated immediately. The vague wording of the law allows for many false interpretations, it encourages hostility against non-Muslims and allows for an unfair trial of those accused under the law. The Blasphemy law violates Articles 2,5,7,10,11,12,18,and 19 of the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights that Pakistan, since they are an active member of the United Nations, has to comply with. Based on the reasons that I have explained it is obvious that the Blasphemy law should not exist in today's democratic world. I encourage you to cherish the fact that you have freedom of religion.



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