by Nadia Siddiqui
Q: What is Blasphemy?
A: Saying something what you don’t believe in.
The laws against blasphemy are so apparent to give power in the hands of ruling authorities who can exercise their control in the name of religion. It is so evident from the case of Aasia Bibi, a Christian by faith, against whom the local Imam of a mosque registered an FIR on a pretext of blasphemy. The death sentence was announced on the accusation that Aasia Bibi denied the Muslim belief of last Prophet. I believe that the death verdict of Aasia Bibi is another example of intolerance and injustice on part of Muslim judiciary in Pakistan which claims to protect lives of minority group members and provide them justice, however, fails in practice every time. As in case of many other unrealistic laws, blasphemy laws also provide people a chance to take revenge on personal disputes and local politics.
It seems meaningless to practice these laws at present times when geographical divisions are becoming porous due to technology and Internet. It is just ridiculous to punish people for their difference in opinion and belief system in the boundaries of Pakistan and Arab world whereas in the rest of the world it is called the freedom of expression. If we believe that rest of the western world
allows people to have their say on all social and religious institutions then it implies that Aasia Bibi is punished for the following reasons: She is a citizen of Pakistan, born in a minority religious group of our country, and she might have said what the majority never wanted her to say.
Important questions about Islam and Muslim world arise from the concept of blasphemy. Does this law mean to protect Islam from some insecurity? Is Muslim faith so vulnerable that an ordinary low- middle class woman can cause some danger to its existence? Is it not possible in geographically marked Islamic territories that people can express their religious opinions and beliefs? Even if I am not a Muslim, am I still bound to follow Muslim religious practices and their popular opinions?
The recent development in Aasia Bibi’s case is that the President of Pakistan is expected to use his constitutional powers to pardon the death sentence. The current developments suggest that the blasphemy laws are so unrealistic that the judiciary fails under severe public pressure and it has to adopt other channels. This is absurd in our country that instead of protecting living people, we have laws to protect religious ideologies.