Blasphemy Law, A Sword Hanging Over Our Heads
Asia Bibi’s case is but the latest in a long series of tragedies due to this infamous law that sows fear in people.
11/16/2011 Pakistan (AsiaNews) – I am native Pakistani Christian. I studied in Pakistan and saw how the blasphemy law has and is being used and abused to settle personal scores, kill Christians and burn their homes and properties. Pakistan has a population of some 180 million people, 96 per cent Muslim and 2 per cent Christian.
It is very unfortunate to see that another Christian, a woman this time, Asia Bibi, has become the target of the controversial Section 295 C of the penal code. Since the promulgation of the law in 1990, about 30 Christians have been charged. Not one has been found guilty by a higher court, although a couple did receive the death sentence in the lower courts. This law has brought a lot of misery and oppression to the people of Pakistan, in particular Pakistani Christians. About a thousand people have been charged under the law, including Muslims, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians.
Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old Christian woman, is the latest victim of the law. Unfortunately, she is the first Christian woman to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy against Islam’s prophet. A local judge, Naveed Iqbal, sentenced her to hang. The circumstances show that Asia Bibi was the victim, insulted by Muslim women co-workers who objected to her bringing water because, as a Christian, she was ‘unclean’.
It is very unfortunate that we have this law. It has instilled fear in the people, particularly Christians. It is very often used to settle personal scores. Both Christians and Muslims have been killed by angry mobs, angered by allegations that a copy of the Qur’an was desecrated or blasphemy was committed against the prophet of Islam.
This is the situation in which we are living. The law is like the sword of Damocles, hanging over our heads. We protest the use and the misuse of this law. Many Muslim and Christian human organisations are against the law.
At present, Pakistan is going through a good deal of turmoil. It is very unfortunate that our country has become a land challenged by fanaticism, terrorism and violence. Every public place has become a potential target. At this dark moment, people feel powerless. However, we Christians have an important role to play: bring hope to our entire people. We have a prophetic role to play in Pakistan: to reject the use of violence to counter violence, hatred against hatred. Our Church is a Church that suffers. Our schools, church buildings and hospitals have been attacked and more than 300 Christian homes have been burnt.
The country’s increasing Islamisation scares Christians and makes them feel insecure. Meanwhile, the Taliban are gaining ground. The government should take tough measures against Qur‘anic schools that teach an Islam with an ugly face, that imposes its will through weapons and bombs.
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