‘Yes, I’m a blasphemer. Get over it.’ by Maikel Nabil Sanad

We support our right to freedom of expression and thought, if it is called ‘blasphemy’, so be it. 


On October 7, 2012, the office of the Egyptian General Prosecutor decided to start an official investigation accusing me of “blasphemy” — or, as they call it, “insulting Islam.” My crime was expressing my atheist beliefs on my Twitter account. The Egyptian authorities also arrested my friend Alber Saber on similar charges. He remains in jail to this day.

Egypt has signed many international treaties that ensure freedom of expression, but the Egyptian penal code still has approximately 20 laws that make certain opinions a crime.

The specified offenses include criticizing the president, the parliament, the military, or the judiciary. Criticizing a foreign president, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Bashar Al-Assad, is also a crime, punishable with a three-year term in prison.

When I learned of the charges against me and Saber, I remembered my friend Kareem Amer, a famous Egyptian blogger who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2007 for insulting both Islam and then-President Mubarak. Kareem suffered a great deal in prison. He was tortured several times, and spent a long time in solitary confinement under horrible conditions.

The latest threat of legal action against me has also stirred up memories of my previous imprisonment last year, when I was imprisoned in Egypt for 10 months for the crime of “insulting the institution of the military.” Since then, two corrupt police officers, Sayyed Abdel-Kareem and Mohammed Abdel-Rahman, have declared that they want to file an additional case against me. They’re both accusing me of insulting Islam during my imprisonment in El-Marg Prison. They’ve tried to use this new case as a form of blackmail to keep me from speaking about the torture I faced while I was there. (Their accusation is entirely separate from the case brought against me by the prosecutor, by the way.)

Alber is not the only opinion prisoner in Egypt accused of criticizing Islam. There are at least six Christians (three of them under the age of 18), four atheists, and one Shiite who now face the same charges, and it is no surprise that not one of them is a Sunni Muslim. It’s a new Inquisition happening in Egypt in the twenty-first century while the whole world remains silent.

It started last year when Ayman Youseef Mansour, a 22-year-old Christian blogger, was sentenced on October 22, 2011 to three years in prison because he criticized Islam on his Facebook page. Egyptian courts later refused his appeal, denying him his right to reconsider the severity of the sentence.

Ayman’s case was followed in January 2012 by the case of Gamal Abdou Masoud, 17, a Christian from Asyut in Upper Egypt. Gamal was tagged on Facebook in a picture that criticized Islam. Angry mobs surrounded his house because of this picture, burned his house and the houses of other Christians in the village, and forced his family to leave. The police didn’t arrest anyone from the mobs. Instead, Gamal was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting Islam.”

Then, in April 2012, another Christian was imprisoned on the same charges. Makarem Diab Said, a teacher (also from Asyut), was sentenced to six years simply for using some aggressive words against Islam when he was quarrelling with one of his colleagues at work.

Last month, on September 12, a court in Sohag sentenced another Christian, Bishoy El-Beheri to six years in prison for criticizing Islam and criticizing President Mohammed Morsi. This case is very similar to Kareem’s. The only difference is that in Kareem’s case he got only one year in jail for criticizing Mubarak, while criticizing the present president leads to three years.

Earlier this month, the Al-Ahram newspaper reported that two Coptic Christian children ,Nabil Nagy Rizk, 10, and Mina Nady Farag, 9, were arrested for insulting Islam because they were caught playing with papers that happened to have some verses of the Quran written on them. The kids were released later, but the case against them hasn’t been dropped yet, meaning that they can be jailed also for three years.

On October 6, a female student, known only by her initials of “B.R.,” went to the police station in Sharkia asking for help, complaining that her mother tried to poison her. But the authorities decided that the student and her boyfriend should be jailed because they are atheists who believe that premarital sex is not a sin.

It is not only atheists and Christians who are being jailed in Egypt for blasphemy. A Shiite man,Mohammed Asfour, was sentenced to three years in prison last July for speaking against the crimes made by followers of Mohammed the prophet of Islam.

Many others are in prison on the same charges and more will surely follow. The General Prosecutor has just sent a case against Google officials to the State Security Investigations department in Egypt, accusing the Internet company of failing to block the movie Innocence of Muslims from its search engine. The prosecutor has also started an investigation against the poetHisham al-Gokh, whom he accused of insulting religion in his poetry.

These activists suffer because Egypt doesn’t have an independent judiciary. Many cases take decades to go before Egyptian courts. But when the issue is political, they can finish the case in a few days, just as they finished my trial 12 days after my arrest in March 2011. They are now doing the same with Alber. Obviously there is a political reason for the Egyptian regime to jail him. They wish to intimidate Christians and other minorities to force them to leave the country. That is why Alber’s trial is being processed so fast in comparison with other cases in Egypt. If there was a proper international response, perhaps they would proceed with more caution. Alber expects to be sentenced to three years’ imprisonment within a short time. Meanwhile, though, there is a campaign supporting his freedom on Facebook and Twitter, which is gaining momentum every day.

The worst part is that this phenomenon of jailing bloggers on charges of “insulting religion” is now becoming widespread in Muslim countries. In Saudi Arabia, young blogger Hamza Kashgari is now in jail on blasphemy charges, and could face the death sentence. In Tunisia, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji were sentenced on March 28, 2012 to seven and a half years in prison. In Morocco,Mohammed Socrates is spending two years in jail for his atheism, but the authorities in Morocco were smart enough to accuse him of narcotics trafficking, and there is no need to say that he confessed under torture. One might even include Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old girl shot by the Pakistani Taliban because of her public calls for secularism and female education.

Religions are just collections of beliefs which can’t be proved. I still can’t imagine that in the twenty-first century there are people going to prison because they don’t believe that someone walked on water, a virgin gave birth to a child, or a man flew to heaven on a donkey. Tolerating this new Inquisition moves our world back to the Middle Ages, and this could have devastating consequences for our lives.

Maikel Nabil Sanad is an Egyptian activist and leader of the “No to Compulsory Military Service” Movement. He became a prisoner of conscience after boycotting military trials in August 2011 and spent 130 days on a hunger strike. He is also a member of the board of Cyberdissidents.org.



Pak man shot dead after being acquitted of blasphemy

Another blasphemy killing in the Punjab. Sajjad Hussain’s murderers surrendered to the police, but will they be tried and punished for their crime?


Lahore: A Pakistani man who was acquitted of a blasphemy charge has been shot dead by two men in Punjab province, police officials said Saturday.

Sajjad Hussain, a resident of Khan Muslim village in Gujranwala district, 80 km from Lahore, was gunned down yesterday.

He had been arrested in February 2011 after Sath Sanaullah, a resident of his neighbourhood, accused him of committing blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed during a private conversation.

Hussain was booked under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, the harsh blasphemy law.

Hussain’s family held a demonstration and demanded that the two men be punished.




Blasphemy: Another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform – Don’t Support It This Friday

Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday

‘Honour Killings’

Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?



Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?


Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

Web Page

Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?



Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?


Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

Web Page

‘Libya: The Questions We Should Be Asking’ by Barry Lando

This article provides some context to the violence now erupting against USA in the Muslim world, where the actual film on YouTube is an opportunity for the Extreme Right to drum up mass hysteria.
Though US-NATO alliance must be confronted, it cannot bring much improvement in the lives of people if it is done on the basis of ‘avenging Islam’, that it is now being done.
We cannot support the Extreme Right, neither can we support the aggressive colonization of US-NATO alliance in the region. We must expose both for their profiteering, and their violent and abusive politics.

September 15, 2012 “Information Clearing House” – – Apart from Mitt Romney’s ridiculous slur against President Obama after the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Americans should focus on the state of affairs suggested by the following questions: When was the last time a Chinese diplomat was killed or even roughed up by an angry mob? When did you last hear about a Chinese embassy being burned down or pillaged?

From Morocco and Tunisia to Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Iraq, anti-American crowds have taken to the streets. The outpouring of hatred is symptomatic of the fact that across much of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, American policy is in tatters—probably more than ever before. The region is strewn with the wreckage of failed U.S. ambitions and disastrous American plans.

Incredibly, even as the U.S. surveys the shambles that Libya has become, there are still American officials pushing for the United States to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war. (In fact, for months now, the U.S. and some of its Arab allies have been clandestinely doing just that.) Even the prime minister of Israel, supposedly America’s most valuable ally in the region, makes political points by sticking his finger in President Obama’s eye.

We’ve heard for years that America is obsessed with this part of the world because its trade routes and resources are critical to U.S. interests. That may once have been true, but as things stand now, those trade routes and resources are more crucial to China than to America. China gets a greater percentage of its oil through the vital Strait of Hormuz—which the U.S. spends billions of dollars to patrol—than does the United States.

And although the U.S. has been lavishing hundreds of billions of dollars on military bases, the Chinese have been spending their considerable financial resources across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, buying up mineral deposits, land, forests and petroleum, inking construction contracts for huge infrastructure projects as well as opening up vast new markets.

Where are the Chinese troops to protect all this? Where are the sprawling Chinese naval and air bases, their drones, killer teams and special forces? Not needed, thanks. The U.S. is handling security.

This makes for some sad ironies. For instance, the fact that Stevens spent months aiding the Libyan rebels during their uprising against Moammar Gadhafi while China was one of the last major allies to continue supporting the dictator. Yet the Chinese are back in Libya wheeling and dealing for construction contracts and oil.

Meanwhile, next door in Egypt, newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, whose country continues to receive more than $1 billion in aid from the United States, judged he had more to gain by joining in attacks against the U.S. than by cooling popular passions. And where was his first trip abroad after winning election? To China.

Yet China would seem a very appropriate target for Muslim anger. The U.S. may have invaded Muslim countries, but for decades China has been brutally persecuting and repressing millions of its own Muslim minorities, such as the Uighars in northwest China.

But how many furious crowds have taken to the streets in Muslim lands to protest the plight of the Uighars? How many people have even heard of them? How many of the Muslim leaders who are lambasting the United States because of an off-the-wall film that the U.S. government had absolutely nothing to do with have ever uttered a single word of protest against China in public?

That’s not to say the Chinese are beloved in the region. There have been violent, sometimes bloody, protests against their labor and trade practices but nothing that compares in scale and depth to the hatred and suspicion of the United States throughout the region.

The current outcry over a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad is just the tip of an emotional iceberg. Underneath it all are more than half a century of Western and American interventions in the region, as well as the U.S.’ continued support of Israel.

While the U.S. has spent huge sums trying to overthrow regimes, punish perceived enemies, prevent nuclear proliferation (except in Israel) and shape the impacts of the new political dynamics that are roiling the area, the Chinese have had their eyes fixed on one set of objectives only: getting hold of vital natural resources to fuel their ravenous economy and finding new markets for their products and mammoth projects for their construction companies.

Why can’t the U.S. do the same? That’s the kind of basic question Americans should ask in the wake of the killing of a U.S. ambassador, as they go about electing a new president. But don’t count on it.

This article was originally posted at TruthDig

Information Clearinghouse

U.S. official killed in Libya protest over anti-Islam film – CBC

Sept 11, 2012

Protesters angered over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad fired gunshots and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing one American official, witnesses and the State Department said. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

It was the first such assaults on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak in uprisings last year.

The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed that one State Department officer had been killed in the protest at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. She strongly condemned the attack and said she had called Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif “to co-ordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.”


‘Countering intolerance’ by Shandana Khan Mohmand

From Dawn.com

A FEW years before the Nazi government arrested him in 1937 and sent him to a concentration camp, Martin Niemoller, a German theologian, spoke the powerful words that have come to epitomise the guilt of the bystander who watches in silence as those around suffer.

He lamented how he had not spoken up as they came first for the communists, then the unionists, and then the Jews. Finally when they came for him, “there was no one left to speak out”.

Pakistan has arrived at a point where ‘they’ have come for the Ahmedis, the Christians, the Hindus, and the Shias. It has come to a point where we need to speak out because at some point they will come for even those that are not part of a minority community.

They will come for you either because you are a Barelvi, a Deobandi, a woman, an intellectual, a liberal, the wrong ethnic group, or simply someone who does not agree with the worldview of those who are armed and have no compulsions against killing a fellow human being. But what is the most effective way to speak out? What will make a difference?

The simple answer, of course, is that we need to learn to be more accepting and tolerant of each other. But while noble, this is a generally useless suggestion because there is a large difference between being intolerant and actually pulling people off a bus, identifying them as Shias and then murdering them for that simple fact.

What takes a person from general intolerance towards others to actually killing people for their belief? I do not have an answer to that, but I do know a few things that contribute.

It contributes when murderers like the Taliban are allowed to get away with it. Not bringing perpetrators publicly to justice in courts that speak out clearly in favour of protecting every single citizen — regardless of caste, creed and religion — contributes
to making the next incident possible.

It contributes that in attack after attack, a few of which have been on their own bases, we do not see the police or the army going after the outfits that sponsor these.

It also contributes that in its official documents the state continues to divide us all into religious categories. What, and whose, purpose does this serve?

It contributes when public figures do not speak out loudly and regularly in favour of minorities and against the violent crimes that they suffer.

It contributes that electronic media is not awash with dramas, public service messages and talk shows promoting an understanding of minority cultures and beliefs, the value and beauty of diversity, and the idea that there should be no ‘us’ and ‘them’ within Pakistan.

It certainly contributes that the career of television anchors does not suffer terribly when they publicly convert members of minority communities to Islam on their shows. And despite popular belief, it is not a lack of education that contributes to this, but rather, the content of our educational curricula that appears to be responsible.

I discovered in my research in rural Pakistan that the person in the village with active membership of a sectarian organisation was never the uneducated farm labourer, but rather the schoolteacher.

The only person that I met who told me he had participated in a religious protest was a man with an FA degree who had travelled to Lahore to protest against the Danish cartoons. As we strive to educate more and more of our population without a review of what we are teaching them, where can we expect to head?

So, how do we speak out? Maybe the answer lies in becoming intolerant as well. We need to become vocally intolerant of religious groups that seek to organise people on the basis of differences and preach violence against others.

We need to become intolerant of the army’s strategic games, and of the fact that deals are struck with those that kill openly and thump their chests publicly to take responsibility for it.

We need to be intolerant of political parties that cosy up to the army and tow its line of negotiating with murderers. We should be intolerant of a state that requires us to reveal our religion in official documents.

We need to be intolerant of a system that is seen to go into hyper-drive to weaken an elected government, but that allows known religious fanatics to walk free for lack of strong evidence.

How do you express such intolerance? By getting our politics right. Withdraw support for the judiciary when it lets a terrorist go. Push the political party you support to have a clear stance against those that kill minorities, and do not vote for those that
make excuses for terrorist outfits.

Change the channel when talk show hosts insist that the real problem is another country, politicians or corruption, all the while defending those that kill the name of religion.

Write to channels to demand that there be more programmes on issues that affect minorities. Use social networking sites, newspapers and public protests to reduce divisions within Pakistan. Refuse to identify yourself with a religion or sect when asked to do so.

And on a personal level, stop trying to match your children with a spouse of the same sect, biradari, or class. Embrace diversity and the possibility that that will only make you less insulated and less inbred.

Do this before they come for you.

The writer is a researcher of political economy.


Pointed to by Hoori Noorani


‘Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab’ a BBC Radio 4 Presentation


On 4th January 2011, self-made millionaire businessman and governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in the car park of a popular Islamabad market. He had been leading a campaign to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, after an illiterate 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, from a village in his province had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Within hours of his death, a Facebook fan page for the assassin Mumtaz Qadri had over 2000 members, before site administrators shut it down. When Qadri was transferred to jail, he was garlanded with roses by a crowd of lawyers offering to take on his case for free. President Asif Ali Zardari, an old friend of Taseer’s, didn’t go to the funeral for fear of inflaming public opinion. Leaders of state-funded mosques refused to say funeral prayers for the slain governor. The Interior Minister even gave an impromptu press conference announcing that he too would kill any blasphemer “with his own hands”.

Using his extensive contacts in Pakistan, presenter Owen Bennett-Jones has interviewed Taseer’s family and friends and the family of the assassin. He has also secured access to court documents including the killer’s confession.

The programme includes both interviews and dramatic reconstructions.

Presented by Owen Bennett-Jones
Sound Design Steve Bond
Executive Producer Jeremy Skeet
Director John Dryden

A Goldhawk Production for BBC Radio 4


‘The Clowns of Blasphemy’ by Fauzia Rafique

Dedicated to the unidentified mentally challenged man accused of desecrating the Quran who was taken from Chanighot police station, tortured and burnt alive by a mob of 1500-2000 religious zealots in Bahawalpur, July 3-4, 2012.

A constant clown of blasphemy
hangs over our heads
conducting this one-act
medieval play. Two three scenes
and a thousand different ways
to slaughter
and women
for insulting
their projection
of this entity,
the divinity,
whose man-made aura is then used
to assure
the smooth operation
of the nearest multinational
owned by the authors, directors, producers
and actors
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Boasting a blood-letting theme

Prestigious production
casting heathens
and kafirs, women
and witches, bombers
and terrorists
using real ammunition
emotions and blood, real-life deaths
announcements, pronouncements
bullying and threats. Un
-dying applause
from stunned
audiences. Firearms, rockets
rocks and ropes
expert skinning
hanging by the poles
klashnikov submissions
summary executions
burning with relish humans, books
music and songs
to protect the owners, holders, movers
and shakers
of the Clowns of Blasphemy.
—— A one-act play
—— Weaving a violent dream

Interacting with audiences
it fans the hysteria
to feed the hungry
wild fires
of our worldly
ambitions on the self-righteous
path to secure
for our leaders brand
new riches, collateral
damaging milli-
-ons of civi-
caught in fireworks
crossfires, revenge fires, suicide-fires
friendly-fires. With 560
army bases
on different
foreign lands, enacting
in its glory
the mafioso cultures of
the red-blood-handed
brown, yellow, black,
white investors of the Clowns of Blasphemy
—— A one-act play
—— Donning a fascist regime
Fauzia Rafique
<a href=”mailto:uddari@live.ca”>uddari@live.ca</a>
<a href=”http://gandholi.wordpress.com”>gandholi.wordpress.com</a&gt;
<a href=”http://facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique”>facebook.com/fauzia.zohra.rafique</a&gt;

First published at Uddari Weblog

‘PAKISTAN: Barbarity in the name of religion is at its height’ by Baseer Naweed

Pakistan is known in the international community and declared in the country’s Constitution as an Islamic nation where Islam is glorified as the superb religion and its followers are pious Muslims. There is no doubt that Islam teaches tolerance, love, respect for other religions, and that life and death are in the hands of Allah. The killing of any human being is forbidden and in the Quran it is the highest form of sin.

But how Islam is defined in practice is yet a big question in Pakistani society. In the absence of any clear definition about the implementation of Islam a strong perception has been widely spread that it can be implemented only through the violence and exemplary punishment to those who do not properly follow its precepts. Saudi Arabia, being the role model of Shariah and a real Islamic country, demonstrates its commitment every Friday by handing down death sentences that are then carried out by beheading. At the same time thieves have their hands removed.

The Muslim fundamentalists, their militant organisations, the military governments and right wing political parties of Pakistan have been trying to replicate the Islamic model of Saudi Arabia which has generated an atmosphere of intolerance and violence by punishing ordinary people in the name of Islam. The gross misuse of blasphemy laws is one of the reasons society is turning into a killing field. Virtual anarchy rules in the country and total chaos is not far behind.

The absence of the rule of law and a weak criminal justice system allows the increasing religious intolerance where the religious groups, with the help of the mushrooming growth of seminaries (Madressas) and mosques are enforcing their own tailored Islamic laws by killing, attacking, forcibly converting non-Muslims to Islam and implicating any person who stands in their way in blasphemy cases.

The barbaric incidents of the Muslim fundamentalists can be seen in the following cases in which the state remains a silent spectator. The Asian Human Rights Commission has collected cases of killings, sectarian violence, lynching and false implication of blasphemy charges during the eight months of this year. Most of the cases were taken from the Urgent Appeals of the Asian Human Rights Commission and research compilations by Mr. Nafees Mohammad based on news clippings from the Daily Express Tribune, Daily Dawn, Daily Time and Daily TheNews.

On August 27, 2012, three more persons from the Hazara Shia community were shot dead and two were injured. The deceased were identified as Zamin Ali, Mustafa and Muhammad Ali. The injured were Ghulam Raza and Zahir Shah. Police said that a pick-up, which had been on its way to Marriabad from Hazara Town, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, came under attack on the Spini Road.

Also during August more than 35 Shiites were killed by assailants in military uniform. During this period around 150 Shiites were killed in different attacks. The attackers claim to be followers of the Wahabi sect, a Saudi Arabian sect, which itself is a minority in Pakistan and number even fewer in comparison to Shia sect.

On August 16, in the early morning, four buses, carrying passengers from Gilgit to Rawalpindi, a city of Punjab, were halted by around 50 men in military uniforms at Babusar Top in Kaghan valley, Mansehra district. All the passengers were asked to alight from the busses and show their national identity cards, after identifying 25 persons as Shia Muslims. Their hands were tied and more than a dozen assailants opened fire at them, killing all 25. After the shooting they marched away in military style shouting Allah ho Akbar.

The Shias from Hazara tribe of Balochistan were killed in those areas which were under the strict control of the Pakistan army and its unit, the Frontier Corp. the places of killings were barely three to 500 meters from the military check posts.

Further incidents may be seen at:


August 18, The 11 persons, from the Sunni sect, were killed in sectarian violence occurred in District Central,Karachi  where 10 people lost their lives in overnight killings that took place in a span of two hours, while another man was killed at noon. Police suspect the wave of violence was in retaliation  for attacks on the Shia community. The first attack occurred in Gulberg locality, where motorcyclists fired on Qari Asif and Qari Shakirullah while they were sitting in their office. At around 1:20am, the second target were three friends: Maulana Muhammad Yahya, 32, Faizan Ilyas, 27 and Mujahid Aleem, 26. Twenty minutes later, a similar incident occurred near Masjid-o-Madrassa Quba, just two kilometres from Masjid-o-Madrassa Yasinul Quran. Assailants sprayed people sitting at Café Green with bullets, killing five people and injuring another. One of the men killed, Hafiz Sharjeel Ali, was associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat. Witnesses and acquaintances claimed the five men were targeted because they were Deobandi, a sect from Sunni Muslim. The fourth such incident occurred at a two-kilometre distance from where the funeral prayers for the Gulberg victims were being offered – another Deobandi, Qari Ahsan, 30, was gunned down when he was returning home from Friday prayers.

On August 17, Karachi: A day after a horrific massacre of 19 Shias in Mansehra, a bus carrying young Shia men was targeted by a bomb in Karachi. Two of them were killed and 13 others were injured. The bomb was planted at a footpath near the main gate of Safari Park, close to an electric substation. The bus was carrying activists of the Imamia Student Organisation (ISO) who boarded the bus at Karachi University

On August 16, a minor Christian girl, Miss Ramsha, 11, with Down ‘s syndrome, was arrested on the charges of blasphemy when she burned some copies of newspapers which were collected from the garbage. The Muslim population of the slum area attacked her house and beat her mother and sister and also burned some houses of Christians. The police arrested the mother and her two daughters and immediately sent Ramsha to Adiala prison illegally as according to law minors below the age of 15 years cannot be sent to prison or detained in police lockup. After her arrest police took the custody of her mother and sister and their whereabouts are unknown. Police say that both mother and daughter are in the protective custody because of the apprehension of their killing by the Muslim activists. However, the Christian community suspect that they were handed over the Muslim activists and that their lives may be in serious danger.http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-146-2012

In August, more than 200 Hindu families migrated to India because of continuous abduction for ransom, forced conversion to Islam after kidnapping, attack on their places of worship and houses, displacement, accusation of blasphemy and general persecution by the Muslim seminaries. Hindus, whose sizeable population live in all the districts of Sindh, have been facing continued incidence of violence compelling them to live under insecurity. The trend has continued for many years now.

On July 4, in Bahawalpur there was a harrowing incident of mob justice, hundreds of people accused a ‘deranged’ man of sacrilege, mercilessly beat him and burnt him alive in southern Punjab. The incident took place in Chanighot area of Bahawalpur. Residents saw a man allegedly throwing pages from the Holy Quran onto the street. Local police took him into custody and put him in the lockup. Soon a frenzied mob gathered outside the Chanighot police station baying for blood. Police couldn’t stand up to the furious and violent crowd who got hold of the alleged blasphemer, described by one police official as deranged, and brutally tortured him. Nine police officers, including SHO Gujjar and DSP were injured while trying – though unsuccessfully – to rescue the man. The mob burnt down several police vehicles, including DSP Mumtaz’s four-wheeler, before getting hold of the man, who has not been identified.

On July 19, Karachi, a devout senior Ahmadiy Muslim, Mr Naeem Ahmad Gondal, was shot in the head by two motorcyclists and died on the spot. He was an elite Ahmadiy Muslim and also holding the high position of Assistant Director in the State Bank of Pakistan. He was an active member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and had been the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Korangi town, Karachi, for the past 11 years. Mr Naeem was the seventh Ahmadiy Muslim killed in Karachi for his faith and belief since the beginning of this year and the world is aware of the hundreds of other Ahmadiy Muslims who have been killed in Pakistan so far just for being Ahmadiy and being devoted to their faith and belief. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-154-2012

On July 1 in Faisalabad mob rule trumped the law when an infuriated crowd severely beat a man accused of blasphemy, within the jurisdiction of the Ghulam Muhammad Abad police station. According to the police, Faryad allegedly committed some blasphemous acts over which the residents of Marzi Pura caught him and severely thrashed and tortured him. After this, the police registered an FIR on the complaint of Abdus Sattar, a resident of Marzipura, and started an investigation.

On July 6, Khanpur a barber was sent to jail after he was arrested on charge of defiling pages of the Holy Quran. Rafiq Ahmed, a resident of Basti Ghazipur, was accused by Abdur Rasheed, the prayer leader of Ayesha Siddiqa Masjid, of using pages of the Holy Quran to clean some mirrors at his shop. Ahmed later said that he was illiterate and had no idea whether the papers he had used had verses of the Holy Quran written on them

On June 28 at least 13 pilgrims were martyred and several others injured in a bomb blast on Zaireen’s bus in Hazar Ganji, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan where the city remains under the tight control of the Frontier Corp (FC), a unit of the Pakistan Army. In the city it is not possible for anyone to move without being body searched by the FC and other law enforcement agencies yet the militants pass freely. The reports say that a police officer was also killed in the attack.

During the month of June alone, 31 Shiites were killed in the Quetta and Mand areas of Balochistan

On June 24 Rekha alias Pubi (14) was working at a factory for the manufacturing of bottles for beverages at Gadap Karachi. She was abducted by gangsters and forcibly converted to Islam. When a police case was filed against the abductors the girl was produced before a Magistrate’s Court by the gangsters to record a statement that she has embraced Islam as her religion. The irony of the judicial process is that the judicial magistrate has accepted her subsequent marriage as legal in spite of the Pakistan law which does not allow the marriage of girls before the age of 16 years.

The irony of the case is that the Chief Justice has with his own technique of law allowed the forced marriage and conversion to Islam as an Islamic victory. The next Friday, after the prayers, chief justice met with Naveed Shah and congratulated him on success on converting a Hindu girl to Islam.

On June 16, a mob attacked a police station in Quetta on Saturday, demanding a man detained for allegedly desecrating the Quran be handed over, leaving at least two children dead and 19 with gunshot wounds. Violence erupted after police arrested a “mentally retarded” man said to have burnt pages of the holy book in Kuchlak, about 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of Quetta, senior administration official Qambar Dashti told AFP. The clash left two children dead and 19 people wounded including eight policemen, he said. “All the wounded people have bullet injuries,” he added. “The man appeared to be mentally retarded, we have taken him into custody and ordered an investigation,” Wajid said, adding that control had been restored.

June 7, Quetta: In the targeted killings two brothers belonging to the Hazara Shia community were gunned down outside the regional passport office near Joint Road. The victims had come to the post office to get their passports made and were attacked outside the main gate of the office.

In May 2012, An 82 year old man, was shot dead by the complainant in Sheikhupura after his release from prison after acquittal by a court on being proved innocent in a blasphemy case. Iqbal Butt was on his way home on a rickshaw when he was shot dead in the city’s Farooqabad locality. Two men, including his accuser Maulvi Waqas and an unidentified accomplice, chased him on a motorcycle and opened fire, resulting in his death. Javed Butt, a stepson of Iqbal Butt, said that Maulvi Waqas accused his father of blasphemy just to settle a score with him after they exchanged harsh words during an argument earlier on.

May 30, Quetta: A Hazara was shot dead, the victim has been identified as Ali Muhammad, and was traveling on his bicycle after having lunch in a restaurant on Joint Road, when unknown armed men opened fire. Later, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a phone call to Quetta Press Club claimed responsibility.

On May 06, Quetta: A Hazara Shiite was killed by unknown gunmen Mastung on Sunday,. He was working at his tyre shop in Dasht area of Mastung, when unknown armed men riding on a bike opened fire and killed him at the spot. The victim is identified as Muhammad Ali.

On May 4, Policemen scratched out Quranic verses written on the walls of an Ahmedi place of worship and ordered them to cover up short minarets at the entrance as they made the place look like a mosque. After receiving a complaint about the place of worship in Sultanpura, Kachhupura, a large contingent of Misri Shah police visited it and told the Ahmedis they had a day to make the place look less like a mosque, failing which a case would be registered against them under the ‘Anti-lslamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance’ of 1984.

On May 4, clerics in Sultanpura, Lahore, who complained that an Ahmedi place of worship looked too much like a mosque were unsatisfied with changes made to the building’s facade and demanded that the building’s dome be demolished, The Express Tribune has learnt. The administration of Baitul Hamd, the worship place, covered the chhatri (flattened dome) at the entrance by installing a hoarding in front of it on May 4. A day earlier, Misri Shah police had removed some tiles with the Kalma and Quranic verses from the building entrance.

In the month of May a Hindu lawyer, Mr. Mohan Lal Meghwar, son of Karo Mal, resident of village Bhadisindhu, Chachro, district Tharparkar, Sindh province, was released by his abductors after paying millions of rupees. On December 30, 2011 he was abducted again when he was on way to Sindh high court, Hyderabad bench, 56 kilometers away from his residence to attend the court proceedings. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-252-2011/

On April 18, the decision in the cases of Ms. Haleema alias Asha Kumari, Ms. Hafza alias Dr. Lata, and Ms. Faryal alias Rinkle Kumari who were forced to convert to Islam after abduction, has proved that that the highest court is a biased Muslim court rather than institution of justice. The judgment concerning this issue has worried the religious minorities who already face an existential threat, demographically but also due to rising religious intolerance in the society.

April 15, Quetta: At least eight members of the Shia Hazara community and a policeman were killed in three attacks . After the attacks and subsequent violence, the administration called out Frontier Corps in the city. The paramilitaries started taking up positions at important places in the evening.
“Seven people were killed in firing on two vehicles on Brewery Road and Subzal Road. Saturday’s killings took the number of Hazara Shias killed in Quetta and its vicinity during the past fortnight to 26.

On April 3, Mr. Abdul Qudoos Ahmad (43), a well respected school teacher, belonging to the Ahmadiyya sect was tortured to death while in police custody in Chenab Nagar (the Ahmadi community refers to it by its old name of Rabwah), Punjab province. He was taken into custody by the police on 10 February 2012 and was kept in a private torture cell of the police until 26 March when his condition deteriorated due to the severe torture he endured. He remained in police custody for 35 days with any charges being laid against him and was not officially arrested. He was forced to confess to the murder of one, Muhammad Yousuf, a stamp-paper seller from the Nusrat Abad area who was murdered a few months earlier. During the illegal detention Mr. Qudoos was deprived from access to any the legal assistance was not provided. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-057-2012/

On March 15, the Khushab district police officer has sought assistance from the Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab in a blasphemy case against two Shia clerics. The particulars of the FIR, a compact disc with recordings of allegedly blasphemous lectures by a Shia zakir and the legal opinion of the district public prosecutor have been sent to the board, Ghulam Murtaza, personal staff officer to the DPO, told The Express Tribune. Murtaza said the matter was referred to the board to ensure that the prosecution was in accordance with the law. The DPO’s reader said that in his written opinion the district public prosecutor had supported the insertion of Section 295 C (use of derogatory remarks, etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code in the FIR registered on March 15 against Gorot resident Shuja Abbas and Multan resident Nasir Multani.

On February 23, Ms. Rinkle Kumari, (17), a Hindu girl living in Mirpur Mathelo; a small city of Sindh province and the daughter of a school teacher, was abducted on the night of 23 February by notorious gangsters of the area with the help of a member of the National Assembly from the ruling party and local Muslim fundamentalist groups. Following her abduction she was forced to embrace Islam. According to the information received, Naveed Shah, a member of a famous criminal group of Hassam Kalwarh, along with more than dozen persons abducted Kumari from her house on 23 February. They kidnapped her at gunpoint and took her to the resident of Mian Abdul Haq, alias Mian Mithhu, the member of the National Assembly from the ruling party, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party. She was then taken to a famous Madressa at Dargah Aalia Qadria Bharchoondi Sharif where she had forced to sign the marriage certificate (Nikkah Nama) and married with Naveed Shah, a street gangster. The Madressa is famous for converting Hindu girls in the province which claims that it has the target to convert 2000 Hindus every year to Islam. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-165-2012

On February 23, in Lahore a mob stormed the school where Saira Khokhar teaches in an attempt to abduct her after she was accused of burning a copy of the Qur’an. Asia News wrote; After Asia Bibi, another Christian woman has been targeted by Muslim fundamentalists because of allegations of blasphemy. Saira Khokhar, who teaches at the City Foundation School in Lahore, is accused of burning a copy of the Qur’an. However, the case is still shrouded in mystery. The school is run by a Christian NGO, City Foundation.

On January 29, a big gathering of more than 5000 persons, mainly from Madressas (Islamic seminaries) was held outside the place where members of Ahmadiyya community have their Mosque and other places like a hospital and library. The place of the protest gathering was not far away from the General Head Quarters of Pakistan and was addressed by none other than the leaders of the banned religious organizations who were declared as terrorist organizations. The leaders from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipahe Sahaba addressed the rally. The rally was held to protest alleged land ‘encroachment’; the speakers used the occasion to demand that Ahmadis must stop religious activities such as proselytizing and worshipping. Participants carried flags of different religious parties, including some banned ones, and portraits of the self-confessed assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseerhttp://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-025-2012/

On January 26, five men were arrested for allegedly using offensive language against the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Kotri. According to the on-duty officer, the men wrote derogatory remarks on the walls of six bogies of Sukkur Express when it was at Kotri. Abid Hussain, Mohammad Hussain, Tasawar Hussain, Asghar Abbas and Mirza Hussain were brought to Karachi and arrested. According to the police, a score of members of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat gathered at Cantt Station and staged a sit-in.

On January 27, there have been stories aplenty about extremist elements publicly punishing men who groom their facial hair in the far-flung tribal badlands of Pakistan. However, the practice has now been reported a little closer to home: At a school in Peshawar, where the institution’s administration suspended a student for trimming his beard too fine – or, to be more precise, for getting an “English cut”.

On January 7, in a mockery of the Blasphemy Law:  A man wrote that his name was ‘Jew Jurian’ on his national identity card form. The data entry clerk then assumed he was a Jew. Thus for the first time in the history of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), a Pakistani was officially declared a Jew. The problem was that he was a Christian. The bigger problem for Jurian, as he told The Express Tribune, was that he was accused of being a Jew – and subsequently, through the twisted logic of twisted souls, of blasphemy. After thorough investigations, Jurian was released by the police, along with three others, in May 2003. Almost nine years later, he and his family still face death threats.But his two other friends were shot dead by the fundamentalists and he is hiding.

On January 3, the car owned by Mahesh Kumar, the former President of Press Club Hyderabad was attacked by three motor-cyclists while Mahesh was inside the club building. This is second time that Mahesh’s vehicle has been attacked by unknown people. From the pattern of the attacks, it seems this is the second warning issued to the journalist and this time the level of threat is higher than before. Mahesh’ colleagues believe that this might be the last warning for Mahesh Kumar before he will be personally harmed. Eight bullets holes were found at different places on the body of the car. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FPR-001-2012/

These cases all are well reflected in Pakistani society, particularly after the promulgation of section 295 (B) and 295 (C) of the blasphemy law during the regime of the military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Baseer Naweed
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An Article from the Asian Human Rights Commission
August 29, 2012

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Blasphemy vendetta: Pakistan 1990-2009

Contributing to the discussion on the lynching deaths of two boys in Sialkot, Nafees Muhammad has put together some of the reported instances of religious intolerance and bigotry that took place in different cities of Pakistan from 1990 to 2009.

The incidents listed below are by no means exhaustive. If you know of another such incident of faith-based violence, please, add it to the list via comments to this post.

Violence and vendetta against non-Muslims and assumed non-Muslims is escalating. There were 13 incidents reported from 1990 to 1999 and 25 from 2000 to 2009. 2010 may be the worst year of all.

Mourning the Sialkot Killings
By Nafees Muhammad

Indeed, it was a highly condemnable and deplorable act of crime against two young boys in Sialkot. I know the media has been very positively covering this incident and there is a chance the culprits may be apprehended one day, tried, and punished. A matter of concern for me is that this event is mostly being reviewed and analyzed in isolation from other similar acts of lynchings against the suspected robbers and those who belonged to a minority community and were blamed for committing blasphemous act.

When a Hindu worker of a mill was lynched by a mob in Karachi a few years ago, his family and the whole community was scared of facing a similar act against them and there was no media coverage about their miseries. Likewise, the Gojra incident wherein 7 or 8 Christians were burnt alive remain a dead issue for the court and the media.

All those who talked about and wrote about the present event of lynching of these two boys missed to say a few words about those people. Why? Wasn’t that a similar act of lynching? Those who think that lynching of a person belonging to different faith, ethnic group, or nationality is ignorable, one day may have to face the same crime themselves. Now Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists are enraged and willing to attack the family members of those who were involved in the Sialkot incident, but we all know how they all supported the culprits of Gojra incident.

Following is a list of the blasphemy incidents that have been committed in the name of religion in this country from 1990 to 2009.

Timely intervention averted a Gojra-like tragedy in a Chichawatni village 8/11-L on Sunday after representatives of Christian and Muslim faiths, with the assistance of inter-faith activists and police, thwarted the nefarious designs of unscrupulous elements.
KASUR, Sept 5
Phoolnagar Sadar police registered a blasphemy case against an alleged faith healer and his six disciples under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) following a protest of hundreds of people in Jambar Kalan on Multan Road on Saturday. Residents of Jamber Kalan continued their protest on the second day for the registration of a blasphemy case and threw traffic on Multan Road out of gear for quite some time.
KASUR, Aug 20
A prominent sect of Muslims on Thursday took to the street agitating alleged blasphemy by some representatives of the rival sect. More than 100 agitators blocked Bhasarpura Road by placing burnt tyres and demanded that the police register a case under blasphemy law against their rivals who, they alleged, broke a marble slab inscribed with ‘Darood Sharif’ at the main gate of Gulzar-i-Medina Masjid in Ayub Town.
Two people were killed when a mob of hundreds of people, including factory workers, attacked a leather processing unit near Muridke on Tuesday over alleged desecration of Quranic verses. Leather unit owner Sheikh Najeeb Zafar is among the dead. At least 24 assailants were apprehended in a late-night development.
Sanghar, August 5
An angry mob attacked the house of an elderly woman in District Sanghar, Sindh, accusing her of desecrating the Holy Quran. A case has not yet been registered but the District Bar Association assured the mob that if the woman – identified as Akhtari Malkani – is found guilty, she will be charged under the Blasphemy Law.
Gojra, August 1
Seven people were burnt alive and 18 others injured in Gojra, District Toba Tek Singh in Punjab after fresh violence erupted in the town over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran three days ago. More than 50 houses were set on fire.
Azafi Abadi, July 31
A mob burnt 75 houses of members of the Christian community over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in the village Azafi Abadi at Gojra-Faisalabad Road. Seventy-five houses and two churches were burnt by the residents of a neighbouring village.
Layyah, February
Five Ahmadis in Punjab’s Layyah district were arrested on charges of writing blasphemous remarks in the toilets of Kot Sultan’s Gulzar-e-Madina mosque. No evidence or witness was presented. They were just detained on a ‘presumption of guilt,’ stated the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Karachi, April 8
Jagdesh Kumar, a 27 year old Hindu worker, was beaten to death by fellow Muslim workers in his factory in Karachi on the charge of blasphemy. The incident took place in the presence of policemen. Some reports suggested that the victim was in love with a Muslim girl that angered the Muslim workers, who decided to teach him a lesson.
Khanewal, March 6
An elderly man, Altaf Hussain, was arrested for desecrating the Holy Quran in Kabir wala Town of Khanewal District in Punjab. The spokesman for the Ahmadiya community countered that the charges against the 80-year-old were false.

Faisalabad, October 28
The police arrested Muhammad Imran of Faisalabad for allegedly setting the Holy Quran on fire. He was kept in a torture cell for three days and later in solitary confinement without anyone attending to his injuries. He was released in April 2009.
Islamabad, May 17
The nursing school at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad was shut down and seven Christian staff members suspended after female students of Jamia Hafsa protested over allegations that blasphemy had been committed at the school. Rumours spread that verses from the Quran posted on a wall had been defaced. School authorities denied all such claims. Christians lost their jobs.
Kotri, April 13
Sattar Masih, a 29-year-old worker at a water pumping station in Kotri city of Sindh, was allegedly attacked by Muslim extremists for uttering blasphemous remarks. An imam of a local mosque, Maulvi Umer, announced some written papers against Prophet Mohammad were found outside the mosque authored by Sattar. Muslim worshipers attacked Masih’s house and tried to kill him but the police arrived before it could happen. Masih was later arrested. Later, in January 2009, the accusation was declared baseless.
Toba Tek Singh, April 1
A case against Salamat Masih, 45, and four other Christians was filed for the desecration of Islamic posters and stickers containing the name of Allah, Prophet Mohammad and other Islamic verses in the Toba Tek Singh (Punjab) police station. The SHO allegedly converted the report into an FIR within 20 minutes without initiating any investigation. Subsequently, 80 young Muslims from the neighbourhood ransacked the houses of Christians in the colony.
Kasur, January 22
Martha Bibi, a Christian woman from Kot Nanak Singh, District Kasur, was accused of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad and defaming his sacred name.

September 21
Shahid Masih, 17, was jailed on suspicion of ripping book pages containing Quranic verses in Punjab.
Karachi, May 24
A Christian, Qamar David, was arrested from Karachi for allegedly sending blasphemous messages to some Muslims via cell phone as revenge for attacks against churches by Muslims in Sukkur, Sindh, and Sangla Hill, Punjab, earlier that year.

Lahore, December 23
Five members of the Mehdi Foundation International were arrested in Wapda Town, Lahore, for putting up posters of their leader Riaz Gohar Shahi showing him as ‘Imam Mehdi’. The Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced each to five years of imprisonment under 295-A of PPC. Their prisoners’ records posted outside the cell falsely indicate that they had been sentenced under 295-C – the Blasphemy Law.
Sangla Hill, November 12
After receiving frequent death threats, Parvez Aslam Chaudhry, a lawyer who defended many accused for blasphemy, was allegedly charged with flinging a burning matchstick on an Islamic school in the Sangla Hill stadium in Punjab which caught fire. Chaudhry was also physically assaulted outside Lahore High Court.
August 11
Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the Anti-Terrorist Court found Younus Shaikh guilty of defiling a copy of the Quran, and propagating religious hatred among society. Shaikh was convicted because he wrote a book ‘Shaitan Maulvi’ (Satanic Cleric) in which he mentioned stoning to death as a punishment for adultery was not mentioned in the Quran. The judge imposed a fine of Rs100, 000 rupees and sentenced him to lifetime imprisonment.

Lahore, November 20
Anwar Masih, a Christian labourer and resident of Shahdara, Lahore, was charged for insulting the Prophet in front of his neighbour. Masih had converted from Islam to Christianity. He was acquitted by the Lahore High Court in December 2004. Later, in August 2007, he lost his job in a factory when his employer was threatened for employing a ‘blasphemer’. Masih went into hiding.
Peshawar, July 09
A journalist in the NWFP was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy. Munawar Mohsin, a sub-editor at the Frontier Post newspaper, was convicted of publishing a blasphemous letter in the editorial section that led to violent protests across the country.

Lahore, July 18
Additional sessions judge in Lahore imposed death penalty and a fine of Rs500,000 on Anwar Kenneth, a former officer of the Fisheries Department, in a blasphemy case registered with the Gawalmandi police. He was arrested on June 15, 2001, while distributing a pamphlet (Gospel of Jesus).
Lahore, June 11
A 55-year-old Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yousaf Ali, convicted of blasphemy was shot dead in the Lahore prison. The murderer was another prisoner, Tariq Mota, a member the banned Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba. Ali had been sentenced to death for blasphemy on August 5, 2000, in a case filed by another militant group who disapproved of his religious views. Ali had been vocal in condemning religious extremism.
Islamabad, October
Pakistani authorities charged Younus Shaikh, a teacher at a medical college in Islamabad, with blasphemy on account of remarks that students claimed he made during a lecture. The students alleged that Shaikh had said Prophet Mohammed’s parents were non-Muslims because they died before Islam existed. A judge ordered that Shaikh pay a fine of Rs100,000, and be hanged. In November 2003 he was acquitted after which he left Pakistan.

Sahiwal, May 6
Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph of Pakistan shot himself in the Sahiwal courthouse to highlight the case of Ayub Masih, a Christian sentenced to death for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The death of the 66-year-old led to protests by Christians. Subsequently, the Lahore High Court ordered a stay of execution for Masih. His fate remains undecided.

Lahore, October 19
Judge Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti was assassinated in his Lahore office after acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy.

Lahore, October 14
Ayub Masih, a Pakistani Christian bricklayer, was arrested for violation of Section 295-C. The complaint was filed by Masih’s neighbour who claimed that Masih had invited them to accept Christianity and recommended that they read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. He later made legal history when his appeal against the death penalty was turned down by the High Court in 2002.

Lahore, July
Catherine Shaheen, a teacher in Lahore, Punjab, was denied her salary on grounds of blasphemy. Since then she has been in hiding because of threats against her life made by some fundamentalists.

Mianwali, November 21
Riaz Ahmad, his son, and two nephews from the Ahmadi community were arrested in Mianwali District for their blasphemous remarks. The rivalry over Ahmad’s position as village headman was the real motivation for the complaint against him. The Sessions Court rejected the bail applications of the accused, however, the Supreme Court granted him bail in December 1997.
Gujranwala, May
Twelve-year-old Salamat Masih, Manzoor Masih, 37, and Rehmat Masih, 42, were charged with writing derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on the wall of a mosque in Ratta Dhotran village of district Gujranwala – where they lived. All the three were in fact illiterate and did not know how to write.
Samundri, February
Anwar Masih, a Christian from Samundri in Punjab, went to jail upon a Muslim shopkeeper’s allegation that, during an argument over money, Masih had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Punjab, November
Gul Masih, a Christian, was sentenced to death after having remarked to his Muslim neighbour in Punjab that he had read that ‘Prophet Mohammed had 11 wives, including a minor.’
Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on the allegation of committing blasphemy. Both died in the Lahore police station. Bantu Masih was stabbed eight times by a fundamentalist in the presence of policemen. He later succumbed to his injuries, whereas Mukhtar Masih was tortured to death in police custody.
Faisalabad, January 6
Christian teacher Naimat Ahmar, 43, was butchered by a young member of a militant religious group, Farooq Ahmad, on the office premises of the District Education Officer in Faisalabad while on duty. Ahmad killed him because the deceased had reportedly used highly insulting remarks against Islam and Prophet Mohammed and by killing a blasphemer he had won his way into heaven. No case of blasphemy was registered against him nor was he tried by any court. Ahmar left behind a widow and four children.

Faisalabad, December 10
Gul Masih of Faisalabad was charged for using sacrilegious language about the Prophet and his wives. The complainant, Sajjad Hussain, had a quarrel with him over repair of a street water tap. Masih was sentenced to death by the Sessions Court, Sargodha, on November 02, 1992. Years later he was acquitted but continued to receive death threats. He is now in Germany on asylum.
Karachi, October 8
Chand Barkat, 28, a bangle stall holder in Karachi, was charged with blasphemy by another bangle vendor, Arif Hussain, because of professional jealousy. Hussain decided to teach Barkat a lesson by accusing him of using derogatory language against Prophet Mohammed and his mother. Barkat was charged under section 295-C of PPC, however, he was acquitted by the Sessions Court for want of evidence.

Lahore, December 7
Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam and resident of Lahore, was accused of abusing Prophet Mohammad at the time of Azaan and imparting anti-Islamic education to children during tuitions. The sessions judge in July 1991 turned down his bail application after he learnt that Iqbal had converted to Christianity, which, he stated, was a cognisable offence. Later on July 21, 1992, before Iqbal’s defence lawyer could appear in court, he was poisoned in police custody.

Contributed by Muhammad Nafees (mohammad.nafees@yahoo.com) to CMKP Digest #2231.

Firs published at Uddari Weblog