Asia Bibi, a 45-year old Christian woman, was sentenced to death by a local court in Nankana district on Monday. Asia was working as a farm worker in a village and was asked to fetch water but some Muslim women refused to drink it, saying it was “unclean” since a Christian woman had brought it (contrary to Islam’s teachings and rooted in caste prejudice). After some days, these women went to a local cleric and accused Asia of making derogatory comments about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). A mob then attacked Asia and the police was called, who ‘saved’ her from the angry mob but in the end succumbed to pressure and registered a blasphemy case against her. It seems as if the local court has succumbed to the same pressure and given her a death sentence. Though there has been no execution in blasphemy cases and most death sentences are overturned on appeal, many people have been murdered either while they were on trial for blasphemy or as soon as they were accused of it. Thus, there is an urgent need to address the root cause: the blasphemy law.
The blasphemy law is a draconian law, just like the Hudood Ordinance, which is often used to settle scores and advance vested interests. Just last year, a Christian village in Gojra was torched after some people alleged that the Holy Quran was desecrated there. The real issue revolved around a property dispute but it was given a religious tinge to emotionally charge up the Muslim community. Over the years, the blasphemy law has been used as a convenient tool to instigate mob violence. This is not limited to settling scores with religious minorities like the Christians, Hindus or Ahmedis, even Muslims have become victims of this unjust law. Just this year, a 60-year-old Zaibunnisa was released by the Lahore High Court (LHC) after languishing in jail for 14 years on a false charge of blasphemy.The Hudood Ordinance and blasphemy law are flawed and open to abuse. Governments get cold feet over repealing these laws and allow the country to be held hostage to an extreme minority view. Unless we can break free of these shackles, we cannot hope to be described in the world as a progressive Muslim state. No justice system and no religion advocates such draconian laws. The Prophet (PBUH) and his message need no defenders. They shine on their own merit – Dailytimes