02/16/2021 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), a fatwa was issued in Pakistan against baseless blasphemy accusations, calling for careful inquiries to be made into all accusations of blasphemy. The fatwa was issued after police arrested five individuals on blasphemy charges based on the design of a shoe.
On February 11, five people from Forever Boot, a shop in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, were arrested after local journalists accused the shop of printing the name Muhammad on the sole of a shoe. On February 15, all five were released, but Forever Boot remains closed.
In reaction to this incident, several clerics from the Dar al Fatah Seminary issued a fatwa against baseless blasphemy accusations.
“Careful consideration is needed to confirm this crime,” the fatwa stated. “Allegations of this crime without a complete inquiry and consultation with scholars can be dangerous and target an innocent. Therefore, it is needed that such matters should be avoided being public. It can cause unrest and riots. Law enforcement agencies should also consult clerics in such matters.”
“The photo was examined carefully but nothing objectionable was found,” the fatwa continued, speaking about the accusation against Forever Boot. “The criticized design under the shoe is a mere design, a flower or a print of a dye. An open-minded person cannot imagine it as the name of Muhammad. A predetermined person can cause presumption. Therefore, it is not right as per Sharia and law to act against the shopkeeper based on this argument.”
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests. This is especially true when accusations of blasphemy are made against members of Pakistan’s Christian community.
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