Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

(New York, February 2, 2011) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial.

“Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling,” said Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling.”

The police have said that they cannot report exactly what was written in the exam paper as doing so would also amount to blasphemy.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty to which Pakistan is a party, guarantees everyone under age 18 the right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, and religion.

Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy. Although this case involves a Muslim, Human Rights Watch has documented how the law is often used to persecute and discriminate against religious minorities in Pakistan.

Pakistan has applied the blasphemy law to children before, Human Rights Watch said. On February 9, 1995, Salamat Masih, a Pakistani Christian boy who was then 14 was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a lower court in Lahore, Pakistan, for allegedly writing derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad on the wall of a mosque. He was also sentenced to two years’ hard labor and fined. Masih was acquitted on February 23, 1995, because the court found that he was, in fact, illiterate. Masih then fled the country out of concerns for his safety. Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who acquitted Masih, was assassinated in his chambers at the Lahore High Court in 1997. The assassin, who was subsequently arrested, claimed to have murdered the judge as revenge for acquitting Masih.

Hundreds of people have been charged under section 295-C since it was added to the penal code in 1986 by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military ruler at that time. In 2009, authorities charged scores of people under the law, including at least 50 members of the Ahmadiyya religious community. Many of those charged remain in prison.

Pakistani and international human rights organizations have long called for the repeal of the blasphemy law. The law has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months as a consequence of a death sentence imposed on November 8, 2010, on Aasia Bibi, an illiterate farmhand from Sheikhupura district in Punjab province.

Extremists responded to government attempts to pardon Aasia Bibi with a campaign of intimidation, violence, and threats against critics of the law. On January 5, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was assassinated, and the man charged with the killing said he had committed the crime because Taseer had called the blasphemy law a “black law.” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former information minister who in November proposed a parliamentary bill to amend the law, has also received death threats, which Pakistan’s government has ignored.

“While Pakistan’s government keeps up the mantra that it will not allow ‘misuse’ of the law, government inaction has only emboldened extremists,” Sheppard said. “Until this law is repealed, it will be used to brutalize religious minorities, children, and other vulnerable groups.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s right issues, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/category/topic/children%E2%80%99s-rights

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Pakistan, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/asia/pakistan

For more information, please contact:
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-7908-728-333 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In New York, Bede Sheppard (English) +1-917-664-3727 (mobile)
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No one has the right to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’

Press Statement: No one has the right to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’

Feb 2, 2011: Citizens for Democracy (CFD), an umbrella group of professional groups, NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and individuals, expresses alarm at the growing trend to accuse individuals of ‘blasphemy’ – an accusation that in this current climate has become an incitement to violence and even murder.

The assassination of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, and the orchestrated glorification of his murderer, has created an atmosphere of great insecurity in the country.

Those who have glorified the assassin as a ‘ghazi’ or hero are now using violence and threats of violence against those who term the slain Punjab Governor a ‘shaheed’ or martyr.

We demand that the murderer be tried according to law, and that those threatening violence also be dealt with according to law.

We believe that each citizen has the right to view or term anyone as a ‘ghazi’ or a ‘shaheed’ without fear of reprisals.

No one has the right to term anyone else a blasphemer or ‘gustakh’ – especially publicly – as such accusations have become an incitement to violence and murder.

Those who support such accusations are equally guilty of inciting violence and murder – whether they be senators, newspapers, television anchors and so-called ‘religious personalities’.

We urge all political parties, parliamentarians and senators to take a clear stand on this issue: No citizen has the right to cast aspersions at the faith and beliefs of any other citizen of Pakistan or to term someone else a ‘blasphemer’.

All such allegations will be viewed as incitements to violence and murder and may be proceeded against in a court of law.

From: Citizens for Democracy – a coalition of professional organisations, trade unions, political parties, non-government organisations and individuals including: Professional Organisations Mazdoor Federations & Hari Joint Committee (POJAC), an umbrella organisation including: 1. Sindh High Court Bar Association; 2. Pakistan Medical Association (PMA); 3. All Pakistan Newspaper Employees Confederation (APNEC); 4. Mutahida Labour Federation; 5. Karachi Union of Journalists; 6. Pakistan Workers Federation; 7. All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF); 8. All Pakistan Clerk Association; 9. Democratic Labour Union State Bank of Pakistan; 10. UBL Workmen Union (CBA); 11. National Bank Trade Union Federation; 12. Karachi Bar Association; 13. Pakistan Nursing Federation; 14. National Trade Union Federation; 15. Sindh Hari Committee; 16. Govt. Sec. Teachers Association; 17. Pakistan Hotel And Restaurant Workers Federation; 18. Mehran Mazdoor Federation; 19. All Sindh Primary Teachers Association; 20. Sindh Professor Lecturer Association; 21. Malir Bar Association, Karachi; 22. Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF); 23. Railway Workers Union Open Line (cba) Workshop; 24. Mehran Railway Employees Welfare Association; 25. All Pakistan Trade Unions Organisations; besides other CFD members and endorsing organisations: 26. Awami Party; 27. Labour Party Pakistan (LPP); 28. Progressive Youth Front (PYF); 29. Communist Party Pakistan (CPP); 30. Peace and Solidarity Council; 31. Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education & Research (Piler); 32. Action Committee for Human Rights; 33. Dalit Front; 34. National NCommission for Justice and Peace (CJP); 35. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP); 36. Caritas; 37. Aurat Foundation; 38. Women¹s Action Forum (WAF); 39. People¹s Resistance; 40. Sindh Awami Sangat; 41. National Organisation of Working Committees; 42. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF); 43. Child and Labour Rights Welfare Organisation; 44. Progressive Writers Association (PWA); 45. Port Workers Federation; 46. Shirkat Gah; 47. Pakistan Peace Coalition (PPC); 48. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA); 49. Sanjan Nagar Public Education Trust (SNPET); 50. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network (PDSN); 51. Sindh Democratic Forum (SDF); 52. SAP-Pakistan; 53. AwazCDS-Pakistan; 54. GCAP-Pakistan; 55. Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF); 56. Labour Education Foundation (LEF); 57. Progressive Youth Forum; 58. National Students¹ Federation (NSF); 59. The Researchers; 60. Tehrik-e-Niswan; 61. Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD); 62. Crises Support Group of Residents for Defence and Clifton, Karachi; 63. Baaghi: A blog for secular Pakistan; 64. Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP); 65. Ansar Burney Trust International; 66. Viewpoint International; 67. Pakistan Youth Alliance

Citizens For Democracy
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The blasphemy syndrome

by M. Nafees/ Riaz ul Hassan
http://www.viewpointonline.net/

In 1860, the British repealed blasphemy laws so that Christian missionaries could proselytize. Today, Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code punishes as hate speech insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any citizen

There are eight Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, where blasphemy is liable to death penalty. In 13 countries, the punishment against blasphemy is imprisonment. At least in 19 Muslim-majority countries, state stays neutral in religious realm. Even Israel and India have blasphemy laws. The case of India is special as Hinduism, the majority religion in the country, does not have the notion of blasphemy. The blasphemy injunctions were promulgated by the Muslim rulers. The British colonial administration lifted the injunctions but re-imposed in the 1870s. However, it is either Nigeria or Pakistan where often ‘mob justice’ is meted out in case of ‘blasphemy’ even before the law takes its course.

‘Islamic Republics’ with death penalty against blasphemy:
1. Afghanistan
2. Bahrain
3. Iran
4. Mauritania
5. Oman
6. Pakistan
7. Yemen
8. Saudi Arabia

‘Officially Muslim’ have imprisonment against blasphemy:
1. Algeria
2. Bangladesh
3. Egypt
4. Iraq
5. Kuwait
6. Libya
7. Malaysia
8. Maldives
9. Morocco
10. Somalia
11. Somaliland (unrecognised state, claimed in whole by Somalia)
12. Tunisia
13. United Arab Emirates

‘Secular’ states, neither supporting nor opposing any particular religion:
1. Albania
2. Azerbaijan
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
4. Burkina Faso
5. Chad
6. Djibouti
7. Gambia
8. Guinea
9. Indonesia
10. Kazakhstan
11. Kosovo
12. Kyrgyzstan
13. Mali
14. Northern Cyprus
15. Senegal
16. Tajikstan
17. Turkmenistan
18. Turkey
19. Uzbekistan

Blasphemy laws in different Muslim countries:
Afghanistan
Afghanistan prohibits blasphemy as an offence under Sharia. Blasphemy may be punished by penalties up to execution by hanging.
Algeria
Although ninety-nine percent of Algeria’s population is Sunni Muslim, and the Constitution declares that Islam is the state religion, Algeria uses legislation rather than Sharia to combat blasphemy against Islam.
Bangladesh
Bangladesh discourages blasphemy by a provision in its penal code that prohibits “hurting religious sentiments,” and by other laws and policies that suppress freedom of speech.
Egypt
The vast majority of Egyptians are Sunni. The majority uses the law against blasphemy with other laws to persecute members of Egypt’s minorities, especially: Shia, Sufi, Christians, Bahai, and atheists.
India
Since Hinduism, India’s dominant religion doesn’t have the concept of blasphemy; such laws are absent in tradition. However, blasphemy laws were introduced by the Muslim rulers to safeguard Islamic interests. In 1860, the British repealed blasphemy laws so that Christian missionaries could proselytize. Today, Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code punishes as hate speech insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of any citizen with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings.
Indonesia
Article 156(a) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code forbids anyone from deliberately, in public, expressing feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religions with the purpose of preventing others from adhering to any religion, and forbids anyone from disgracing a religion. The penalty for violating Article 156(a) is a maximum of five years imprisonment. The Muslim majority uses the Criminal Code, presidential decrees, and ministerial directives to persecute religious minorities and unorthodox sects. The persecution in Indonesia makes it a place of much discrimination, harassment, and violence.
Iran
Iran derives its law against blasphemy from Sharia. The law against blasphemy complements laws against criticizing the Islamic regime, insulting Islam, and publishing materials that deviate from Islamic standards.
Israel
In Israel, blasphemy is covered by Articles 170 and 173 of the penal code.
Jordan
Jordan’s Penal Code prohibits anyone from blaspheming Islam, demeaning Islam or Muslim feelings, or insulting Prophet Mohammed. Violating the prohibitions makes the violator liable for imprisonment (up to three years) and a fine.
Kuwait
Kuwait is an Islamic state. It suppresses any blasphemy against Sunni Islam with legislation rather than by applying Sharia. Accusations of blasphemy in Kuwait usually target the Shia, academics, and journalists.
Malaysia
Malaysia prevents insult to religion and to the religious by education, by restrictions upon the broadcasting and publishing media, and by the legal system. Some states in the Malaysian federation operate Sharia courts to protect Islam, and, when Sharia is not applicable, the Malaysian Penal Code provides penalties for offenses against religion.
Nigeria
Nigeria prohibits blasphemy by section 204 of its Criminal Code and by permitting Sharia courts to operate in some states. Vigilantism frequently usurps the jurisdiction of the courts.
Pakistan
Among Muslim-majority countries, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. § 295-A of Pakistan’s Penal Code forbids outraging religious feelings. § 295-B punishes defilement of the Quran with life imprisonment. § 295-C prescribes the death penalty or the death penalty with a fine for the “use of derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet.” 298-B and 298-C prohibit the Ahmadiyya from proselytizing or from behaving in any manner as Muslims.
The blasphemy laws are part of a system which fosters injustice, sectarian violence, and violence between religions. The usual victims are Shia, Ahmadiyya, Christians, and Hindus. Persons accused of blasphemy as well as police, lawyers, and judges are often subject to harassment, threats, and attacks when blasphemy is in issue.
In November 2008, Pakistan’s government appointed Shahbaz Bhatti as Federal Minister for Minorities, and gave him cabinet rank. Bhatti has promised that the Asif Ali Zardari government will review Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Pakistan has been an active supporter of the campaign by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to create global laws against blasphemy.
Saudi Arabia
Islam is Saudi Arabia’s state religion. The country’s monarchy favors one school of Sunni Islam, namely, Wahhabism. The country’s laws are an amalgam of rules from Sharia, royal edicts, and fatawa from the Council of Senior Religious Scholars. Those laws prescribe penalties up to the death penalty for blasphemy.
Sudan
Sudan has Sunni Islam as its state religion. About seventy percent of the country’s population is Muslim. The next largest group—about twenty-five percent of the population—is animist.
Section 125 of the Sudanese Criminal Act prohibits “insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs.” The section includes as penalties: imprisonment, a fine, and a maximum of forty lashes. In November 2007, the section gave rise to the Sudanese teddy bear blasphemy case. In December 2007, the section was used against two Egyptian booksellers. They were sentenced to six months in prison because they sold a book that the court deemed an insult to Aisha, one of Prophet Mohammed’s wives.
In May 2005, the authorities arrested Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed, and charged him with violating section 125. Ahmed was the editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper Al-Wifaq. The paper had published an article about a 500-year-old Islamic manuscript which says the real name of Mohammed’s father was not Abdallah but Abdel Lat, or Slave of Lat, an idol of the pre-Islamic era. A court fined Al-Wifaq eight million Sudanese pounds—the paper was shut down for three months—but acquitted Ahmed. Ahmed was found decapitated in September 2006.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates discourage blasphemy by controlling what is published and distributed, by using Sharia punishments against Muslims, and by using judge-made penalties against non-Muslims.
Yemen
Accusations of blasphemy in Yemen serve the same purpose there as elsewhere. The accusations victimize religious minorities, intellectuals and artists, reporters and human rights defenders, and opponents of the ruling clique. If vigilantism or abuse by the authorities does not kill an accused or force an accused into exile, the accused in Yemen will be subject to Islamic law (Sharia). Sharia, according to some interpretations, prescribes death as the proper punishment for blasphemy.

<a href="http://www.viewpointonline.net/“>View complete article here
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Pakistani Ulema: Debating/Amending Blasphemy Laws not against Islam

In a debate on Blasphemy Laws on Dunya TV, a leading politician/activist brings the discussion to a point where the participating Ulema accepted the fact that debating or demanding to amend Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws is not against Islam.

This admission by the Ulema will have a positive impact on the struggle against the injustices brought about on non-Muslims and Muslims by the Blasphemy Laws. During the debate, it became obvious that when confronted on this issue, the Ulema will have to back down as no one called the killer of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer a ‘hero’ or a ‘Ghazi’ (soldier of god).

The debate was between Politician/Activist Nasim Zehra, Mufti Naeem of Banoria Madrassa, Ayaz Amir, Sarwat Qadri President Sunni Tehreek, Javed Jabbar, Maulana Salafi of Sattaria Trust, Iqbal Haider and Javaid Ghamdi.

From http://citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com/
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Tariq Ali on Salman Taseer Shaheed by

Salman Taseer Remembered
By
Tariq Ali

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n02/tariq-ali/

Mumtaz Hussain Qadri smiled as he surrendered to his colleagues after shooting Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, dead. Many in Pakistan seemed to support his actions; others wondered how he’d managed to get a job as a state bodyguard in the carefully screened Elite Force. Geo TV, the country’s most popular channel, reported, and the report has since been confirmed, that ‘Qadri had been kicked out of Special Branch after being declared a security risk,’ that he ‘had requested that he not be fired on but arrested alive if he managed to kill Taseer’ and that ‘many in Elite Force knew of his plans to kill Salman Taseer.’

Qadri is on his way to becoming a national hero. On his first appearance in court, he was showered with flowers by admiring Islamabad lawyers who have offered to defend him free of charge. On his way back to prison, the police allowed him to address his supporters and wave to the TV cameras. The funeral of his victim was sparsely attended: a couple of thousand mourners at most. A frightened President Zardari and numerous other politicians didn’t show up. A group of mullahs had declared that anyone attending the funeral would be regarded as guilty of blasphemy. No mullah (that includes those on the state payroll) was prepared to lead the funeral prayers. The federal minister for the interior, Rehman Malik, a creature of Zardari’s, has declared that anyone trying to tamper with or amend the blasphemy laws will be dealt with severely. In the New York Times version he said he would shoot any blasphemer himself.

Taseer’s spirited defence of Asiya Bibi, a 45-year-old Punjabi Christian peasant, falsely charged with blasphemy after an argument with two women who accused her of polluting their water by drinking out of the same receptacle, provoked an angry response from religious groups. Many in his own party felt that Taseer’s initiative was mistimed, but in Pakistan the time is never right for such campaigns. Bibi had already spent 18 months in jail. Her plight had been highlighted by the media, women had taken to the streets to defend her and Taseer and another senior politician from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Sherry Rehman, had demanded amendments to the blasphemy laws. Thirty-eight other women have been imprisoned under the same law in recent years and soon after a friendly meeting between Yousaf Gillani, the prime minister, and the leader of the supposedly moderate Jamaat-e-Islami, a member of the latter offered a reward of ten thousand dollars to whoever manages to kill Bibi.

Taseer’s decision to take up Bibi’s case was not made on a whim. He had cleared the campaign with Zardari, much to the annoyance of the law minister, Babar Awan, a televangelist and former militant of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He told journalists he didn’t want the socio-cultural agenda to be hijacked by ‘lunatic mullahs’, raged against governments that had refused to take on fanaticism, and brushed aside threats to his life with disdain. He visited the prison where Bibi was detained – the first time in the history of the Punjab that a governor has gone inside a district jail – and at a press conference declared his solidarity with her. ‘She is a woman who has been incarcerated for a year and a half on a charge trumped up against her five days after an incident where people who gave evidence against her were not even present,’ he told an interviewer. He wanted, he said, ‘to take a mercy petition to the president, and he agreed, saying he would pardon Asiya Bibi if there had indeed been a miscarriage of justice’.

Two weeks after this visit Taseer was dead. I never much cared for his business practices or his political affiliations and had not spoken to him for 20 years, but he was one of my closest friends at school and university and the two of us and the late Shahid Rehman – a gifted and witty lawyer who drank himself to death many moons ago – were inseparable. Some joyful memories came back when I saw his face on TV.

It’s 1960. The country is under a pro-US military dictatorship. All opposition is banned. My parents are away. The three of us – we are 17 years old – are at my place and we decide that something has to be done. We buy some red paint and at about 2 a.m. drive to the Cantonment bridge and carefully paint ‘Yankee Go Home’ on the beautiful whitewashed wall. The next morning we scrub the car clean of all traces of paint. For the next few weeks the city is agog. The story doesn’t appear in the press but everyone is talking about it. In Karachi and Dhaka, where they regard Lahore as politically dead, our city’s stock rises. At college our fellow students discuss nothing else. The police are busy searching for the culprits. We smile and enjoy the fun. Finally they track us down, but as Taseer notes with an edge of bitterness, Shahid’s father is a Supreme Court judge and one of my aunts is married to a general who’s also the minister of the interior, so naturally we all get off with a warning. At the time I almost felt that physical torture might be preferable to being greeted regularly by the general with ‘Hello, Mr Yankee Go Home.’

Two years previously (before the dictatorship) the three of us had organised a demonstration at the US Consulate after reading that an African-American called Jimmy Wilson had been sentenced to death for stealing a dollar. On that occasion Salman, seeing that not many people had turned up, found some street urchins to swell our ranks. We had to stop and explain to them why their chant of ‘Death to Jimmy Wilson’ was wrong. Money changed hands before they were brought into line. Years later, on a London to Lahore flight, I met Taseer by chance and we discussed both these events. He reminded me that the stern US consul had told us he would have us expelled, but his ultra-Lutheranism offended the Catholic Brothers who ran our school and again we escaped punishment. On that flight, more than 20 years ago, I asked him why he had decided to go into politics. Wasn’t being a businessman bad enough? ‘You’ll never understand,’ he said. ‘If I’m a politician as well I can save money because I don’t have to pay myself bribes.’ He was cynical in the extreme, but he could laugh at himself. He died tragically, but for a good cause. His party and colleagues, instead of indulging in manufactured grief, would be better off taking the opportunity to amend the blasphemy laws while there is still some anger at what has taken place. But of course they are doing the exact opposite.

Even before this killing, Pakistan had been on the verge of yet another military takeover. It would make things so much easier if only they could give it another name: military democracy perhaps? General Kayani, whose term as chief of staff was extended last year with strong Pentagon approval, is said to be receiving petitions every day asking him to intervene and ‘save the country’. The petitioners are obviously aware that removing Zardari and replacing him with a nominee of the Sharif brothers’ Muslim League, the PPP’s long-term rivals, is unlikely to improve matters. Petitioning, combined with a complete breakdown of law and order in one or several spheres (suicide terrorism in Peshawar, violent ethnic clashes in Karachi, state violence in Quetta and now Taseer’s assassination), is usually followed by the news that a reluctant general has no longer been able to resist ‘popular’ pressure and with the reluctant agreement of the US Embassy a uniformed president has taken power. We’ve been here before, on four separate occasions. The military has never succeeded in taking the country forward. All that happens is that, instead of politicians, the officers take the cut. The government obviously thinks the threat is serious: some of Zardari’s cronies now speak openly at dinner parties of ‘evidence’ that proves military involvement in his wife Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. If the evidence exists, let’s have a look. Another straw in the wind: the political parties close to the ISI, Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, have withdrawn from the central government, accusing it of callousness and financial malfeasance. True, but hardly novel.

Another necessary prerequisite for a coup is popular disgust with a corrupt, inept and failing civilian government. This has now reached fever pitch. As well as the natural catastrophes that have afflicted the country there are local wars, disappearances, torture, crime, huge price rises in essential goods, unemployment, a breakdown of basic services – all the major cities go without electricity for hours at a stretch and oil lamps are much in demand in smaller towns, which are often without gas and electricity for up to 12 hours. Thanks to the loan conditions recently imposed by the IMF – part of a gear change in the ‘war on terror’ – there have been riots against the rise in fuel prices in several cities. Add to this Zardari’s uncontrollable greed and the irrepressible desire of his minions to mimic their master. Pakistan today is a kleptocracy. There is much talk in Islamabad of the despised prime minister’s neglected wife going on a shopping spree in London last month and finding solace in diamonds, picking up, on her way back home, a VAT rebate in the region of £100,000.

Can it get worse? Yes. And on every front. Take the Af-Pak war. Few now would dispute that its escalation has further destabilised Pakistan, increasing the flow of recruits to suicide bomber command. The CIA’s New Year message to Pakistan consisted of three drone attacks in North Waziristan, killing 19 people. There were 116 drone strikes in 2010, double the number ordered in the first year of the Obama presidency. Serious Pakistani newspapers, Dawn and the News, claim that 98 per cent of those killed in the strikes over the last five years – the number of deaths is estimated to be between two and three thousand – were civilians, a percentage endorsed by David Kilcullen, a former senior adviser to General Petraeus. The Brookings Institution gives a grim ratio of one militant killed for every ten civilians. The drones are operated by the CIA, which isn’t subject to military rules of engagement, with the result that drones are often used for revenge attacks, notably after the sensational Khost bombing of a CIA post in December 2009.

What stops the military from taking power immediately is that it would then be responsible for stopping the drone attacks and containing the insurgency that has resulted from the extension of the war into Pakistan. This is simply beyond it, which is why the generals would rather just blame the civilian government for everything. But if the situation worsens and growing public anger and economic desperation lead to wider street protests and an urban insurgency the military will be forced to intervene. It will also be forced to act if the Obama administration does as it threatens and sends troops across the Pakistan border on protect-and-destroy missions. Were this to happen a military takeover of the country might be the only way for the army to counter dissent within its ranks by redirecting the flow of black money and bribes (currently a monopoly of politicians) into military coffers. Pakistani officers who complain to Western intelligence operatives and journalists that a new violation of sovereignty might split the army do so largely as a way to exert pressure. There has been no serious breach in the military high command since the dismal failure of the 1951 Rawalpindi Conspiracy, the first and last radical nationalist attempt (backed by Communist intellectuals) to seize power within the army and take the country in an anti-imperialist direction. Since then, malcontents in the armed forces have always been rapidly identified and removed. Military perks and privileges – bonuses, land allocations, a presence in finance and industry – play an increasingly important part in keeping the army under control.

Meanwhile, on a visit to Kabul earlier this month, the US homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, announced that 52 ‘security agents’ were being dispatched to the Af-Pak border to give on the spot training to Afghan police and security units. The insurgents will be delighted, especially since some of them serve in these units, just as they do in Pakistan.

Pointed to by Ijaz Syed

Request for Suo Moto action against vigilantism, incitement to violence

Love Life supports this initiative by the Citizens for Democracy to encourage the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take sou moto action against religious extremists who are inciting violence against the innocent people of Pakistan for defending human rights.

It is vital to support all such endeavors for the safety of Pakistani citizens. Please endorse it here:
http://citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/

January 9, 2011
By Citizens for Democracy

Following is the text for an open request, prepared by a lawyer, addressed to the CJP for suo moto action against the qari of the Mohabat Khan mosque Peshawar who had offered a reward for the murder of Aasia Noreen if the Lahore High Court acquits her. The onus is on the CJP to take notice of both such brazen violation of law and of the criminal intent of the qari. It may also be used to file a legal petition, and would also be a public display of where we stand and what we expect of the Supreme Court when law is violated, verbally or through actually committing murder – whether in the name of ‘national interest’, personal interest or in the name of religion. Please endorse the request in the comments section if you agree.

REQUEST FOR SUO MOTO ACTION January 9, 2010

The Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan,

We, concerned citizens wish to draw your Lordship’s attention to an urgent matter of extreme public importance and seek your Lordship’s indulgence in exercising Suo Motu jurisdiction to prevent violations of the most fundamental of personal rights and performance of the guarantee that “no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with the law” as enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Annexed with this petition are newspaper clippings and news items published in Urdu daily “…………” and on the internet disclosing that one Yousuf Qureshi, Imam of the Mohabbat Khan Mosque in Peshawar, has announced an award for the murder of Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother of five sentenced to death after being charged and tried for blasphemy. The announcement and its publication amount to offences under the Pakistan Penal Code which appear in the current scenario, where individual notions of what constitutes blasphemy seem to override the law, and remain, for reasons stated below, beyond the law enforcement agencies’ capacity to take cognizance of such serious offences.

The annexed reports are all prior in time to the assassination of Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab, who also appears, subject to the outcome of investigations by the relevant authorities, to have been a victim of one man, possibly incited by similar announcements and denunciations, committing a pre-meditated murder and justifying it on the basis of his belief that the assassinated former Governor had blasphemed by publicly voicing his opinion on a law.

The ongoing debate concerning the matter of Aasia Bibi and the assassination of the former Governor poses an imminent threat much bigger in scale compared to what has been referred to as “honour killings”. Given the religious sensitivities surrounding the issue at the heart of the matter, this matter can be reasonably taken up only by the esteemed Supreme Court of Pakistan to finally and conclusively determine the criminality in inciting murder in the midst of hysteria around allegations of blasphemy.

The signatories to this Petition have been alarmed by the contents of the annexed news reports and believe the same to be brazen declarations of criminal intent and commission of a crime but lack the means of setting the course of law in motion on account of lack of personal knowledge ad having come to know of the statements through publications in the media. Even otherwise, we believe that the matters calls for nothing less than direct intervention by your Lordship given the inability of the investigating authorities to investigate the matter without fear of personal security of the investigating officers.

The signatories to this Petition pray that your Lordship may initiate proceedings in the matter Suo Motu and protect the country from misguided individuals founding another criminal institution of Customary Killing in violation of Article 9 and 10-A of the Constitution of Pakistan.

http://citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/
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FAISALABAD VIGILANTE KILLINGS: Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel

ISLAMABAD-RAWALPINDI CIVIL SOCIETY OUTRAGED AT FAISALABAD VIGILANTE KILLINGS

Islamabad, 20th July, 2010

Civil Society Organizations, Peace and Human Rights Activists are once again shocked and outraged at the vigilante killings in Faisalabad of two young men under trial, accused under the infamous Blasphemy Law.

We strongly condemn the absence of law enforcement, the lack of protection to the under trial accused, and the impunity with which the fanatics who carry out extra-judicial killings are allowed to get away with murder – quite literally.

Whether or not 35-year old Sajid and Rashid would ever have received justice is now an academic debate. They are dead, killed by religious intolerance in the prime of their youth, for no fault of their own except the accident of being born Christian in the theocratic Islamic State of Pakistan, where, two and a half years into its five-year rule, the self-professed progressive Government is unwilling or unable to provide its non-Muslim citizens the required protection and security that the Constitution guarantees them; and where the elected Legislature shows neither the political will nor the commitment to repeal the Zia-imposed Blasphemy Laws.

We demand that the Punjab Government should immediately increase security at law courts, prisons, all places of worship, and should particularly provide protection to all non-Muslim Pakistani citizens in view of recent intelligence reports on specific targeting of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects. We demand that the killers of Sajid and Rashid should be apprehended immediately and dealt with by the full force of the Law, without any leniency or mitigation.

We demand that the federal Ministers for Religious Affairs and Minority Affairs should immediately jointly table a Bill in Parliament to repeal at least Sections 295 B and C of the Blasphemy Laws for a start.

We ask: How many more Shanti Nagars and Gojras and Ayub Masihs and Bishop John Josephs and Sajids and Rashids and Hafiz Farooqs and Naimat Ahmars and Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khans must we suffer before the alarm bells start ringing in the corridors of power? What more will it take?

Tahira Abdullah
socialist_pakistan_news@yahoogroups.com

PAKISTAN: The killing of two Christian brothers

AHRC-STM-151-2010
July 20, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: The killing of two Christian brothers is the result of the negligence and bias of the Punjab government and police

The abuse of the Blasphemy law, misuse of mosque loudspeakers and the impunity offered to Muslim extremists are the main causes of the persecution of religious minorities.

The shooting deaths of Rashid Emmanuel and in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in the district courts compound in Faisalabad on July 19 came as no surprise. As was expected Muslim extremists carried out the murder just five days after the issuance of an Urgent Appeal by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in which it was feared that they were vulnerable to attack. The AHRC had also demanded that immediate action be taken to provide protection for the men so that their case might be taken up in accordance with the laws and procedures of the country. Please see the Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-102-2010.

The investigation officer of Police, Mr. Muhammad Hussain was also seriously injured during the attack as he tried to seize one of the attackers all of whom escaped unhindered. The two brothers had been arrested on charges of Blasphemy on the complaint of a printer on July 2, 2010.

Both brothers were produced before the court of Civil Judge, Mr. Aamir Habib, for their remand. Banned Muslim extremist groups, which enjoy freedom from the government of Punjab province, made announcements through the mosque loudspeakers asking Muslims to gather at the district courts building when the Christian brothers would be produced. They also spread rumors one day before that the Christian brothers would be free to go home from the Civil Lines Police Station, Faisalabad.

During the court proceedings the investigating officer told the court that there was no evidence of Blasphemy against the brothers and that therefore the police had no cause to further remand them in custody. The court ordered that Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel be held in Judicial custody until the next date to issue further orders.

As both the brothers came out from the court suddenly some persons emerged from the crowd and opened fire at them. The elder brother Rashid died instantly whereas the younger one Sajjid died on the way to hospital. The police officer, Muhammad Hussain also received a bullet injury and is in critical condition.

Despite the threats by extremist elements from the banned Muslim militant groups to kill the Christian brothers the administration of Faisalabad city and the Punjab government did not take any security measures for their protection. Only three police officials, including the investigation officer, were assigned for the production of the accused brothers at the court whereas the Christian community had already asked the administration to provide sufficient policemen to protect them.

The AHRC has also mentioned in its Urgent Appeal that violent rallies by radical Muslims in the area have called for the men’s death, and Christians have reportedly begun to leave the neighbourhood. They fear that a new attack is planned for the end of the month, around the anniversary of a deadly attack on Christians 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra where six people were set alight and burned to death. Mosque loudspeakers are also being freely used to incite violence, which is illegal.

The killing of the Christian brothers in broad daylight was due to the sheer negligence and biased attitude of the Punjab provincial government and police. The Punjab government is notorious in appeasing the banned Muslim militant organisations. The Punjab provincial government, during the bye elections in 2009 has released some extremist leaders from the jails, who were involved in sectarian violence and killings, which helped them to win the elections. The younger brother of the Chief Minister of Punjab is also associated with one of the banned militant Muslim groups and is involved in spreading communal and sectarian violence.

It is very sad that after the killing of the two brothers some groups have attacked the Daud Nagar of Warispura, Faisalabad where there is 100,000 strong Christian communities. Different groups carried out processions inside the Christian area until the late hours of the night and threatened the residents. They warned them that they will face the same fate as happened in Gojra last year where nine people were killed and six were burned to death.

The other factor which suppresses the freedom of religious minority groups in Pakistan is the illegal use of loudspeakers from the mosques against the religious minorities as the easiest tool to instigate the Muslim population. The government is not taking any action against the misuse of loudspeakers. According to the law it is illegal for the loudspeakers in mosques to be used for anything other than Friday sermons in Arabic and the call to prayer.

Religious minority groups in Pakistan remain vulnerable due to the continued use and abuse of blasphemy charges, despite section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code. This must be strongly implemented if minorities are to be protected. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directives of extremists in the community must face strong legal action. Charges of blasphemy are still met with the death penalty in Pakistan, and desecrating the Quran carries a life sentence.

The AHRC urges the government to appoint a judicial commission to probe the incident of killing of the two Christian brothers and the attacks on the Christian community, the high police officials must be prosecuted for their negligence in providing security to the Christians when it was very obvious that the extremists would attack them.

The government should immediately abolish the Blasphemy law which was introduced by a fundamentalist military dictator in the 1980s for the purpose of prosecuting religious minorities. The government should also follow the amendment made in the Blasphemy law that no FIR for Blasphemy can be filed without an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police. Therefore the government should take action against the responsible police officers who, without proper investigations, filed the FIR for Blasphemy at the pressure from some Muslim extremist groups.

The government should also provide compensation to the family of the assassinated brothers.

Asian Human Rights Commission
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367
twitter/youtube/facebook: humanrightsasia

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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Urgent Appeal: Support Pakistan’s Christian community in Punjab

Update July 19, 2010

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-102-2010
14 July 2010

PAKISTAN: The Christian community in Punjab is under threat from extremist groups again; two brothers are illegally charged with blasphemy

ISSUE: Religious minorities, blasphemy law, threats, arbitrary detention

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that two Christian men are in imminent danger after they were arrested, without a legitimate investigation, for blasphemy. The police officers involved have not followed the penal code, which only allows such charges to be made after an investigation by the superintendent of police. Blasphemy can still be met with the death penalty in Pakistan.

Violent rallies by radical Muslims in the area have called for the men’s deaths, and Christians have reportedly begun to leave the neighbourhood. They fear that a new attack is planned for the end of the month, around the anniversary of a deadly attack on Christians 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra; six were set alight and burned to death. Mosque loudspeakers are also being freely used to incite the violence, which is illegal.

Immediate action must be taken to remove the men from danger, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community.

CASE NARRATIVE
Mr. Rashid Emmanuel, 32, is a pastor. On the evening of 2 July he received a telephone call from a man who claimed to be from the La Salle School, a prominent Christian educational centre. He asked to meet Mr. Rashid about an urgent matter at Zilla Council chowk (crossroads) in Faisalabad. When Rashid arrived later that evening he saw four persons standing in the dark; before ten uniformed police officers reportedly emerged and arrested him.

He was taken to the Civil Lines Police Station nearby and shown a photocopy of a four-page handwritten pamphlet that criticized Islam and its last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The pamphlet appeared to be signed by Rashid and his younger brother Sajid Emmanuel, and instructed the reader to contact them for further information. It featured their cell phone numbers and national identity card numbers.

The police detained Rashid and released a boy who they had mistakenly thought to be Rashid’s brother. The blasphemy complaint was filed by Mr. Mohammad Khurram Shehzad, a printer who reportedly declared that his assistant had seen a man distributing the pamphlets at Lari Adda, the city’s main bus terminus, on 1 July. Based on this information the police filed a First Information Report (FIR), a legal document for case proceeding in the court).

However the blasphemy law was amended in 2004 specifically to avoid its abuse via baseless charges. As details below the blasphemy charge can still be met with the death penalty, yet it often arises amid neighbourhood vendettas. Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) now states that no case of blasphemy can be filed without the investigation of the superintendent of police.

A representative of the Christian community – Mr. Atif Jamil Pagan, the Chief of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Harmony Foundation – contacted the police and was told by the SHO that a sub inspector and an assistant superintendent had been chosen for the investigation; he allegedly acknowledged that they were not complying with section 295C of the PPC because they were under pressure from extremist Muslim groups in the community. The sub inspector, a Mr. Mohammad Hessian, later told Atif that the accused was being detained without evidence against him because the case was a sensitive one.

On 3 July we are told that the police took Rashid to the Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) for police remand, where the case was correctly refused. Religious matters are no longer under the authority of the ATC, as maintained in clause 780 of the Anti Terrorist Act (ATA) 1997. Rashid was taken to a duty magistrate in the Civil Lines jurisdiction, who agreed to his two-day remand in police custody, despite the breach of procedure.

We are told that during this time the sub inspector summoned Atif Pagan to the police station and asked that he produce Rashid’s young brother. For his protection, Pagan arranged for Sajid to be handed to the police in the presence of Bishop Joseph Couetts of Faisalabad. The police then asked the brothers to handwrite each pamphlets three times. On 7 July the writing samples were sent to experts in Lahore, around 200km from Faisalabad, but the experts reportedly replied that they could not work from the photocopied pamphlets.

During this time groups of organized Muslim activists started to rally against the brothers in public: we are told that the loudspeakers from a number of mosques were used illegally to do so, and to incite violence against local Christians (in breach, as noted below, of Section 3 of the Loud Speaker Act 1965). On 7 July a procession in Warispura saw local Muslim residents chanting threatening slogans against Christians; one chant called for the hanging of Rashid and Sajid, and we are informed that the mob attacked a Catholic Church, breaking its windows and doors. On 10 July persons in another procession burnt tires on the streets; a call went up declaring that Christians would not be allowed to live in Warispura. At 1am that night a procession of motorbikes took place, with riders allegedly harassing Christians who were leaving their homes with their belongings. The protestors announced that a meeting would be held at Ghanta Chowk on 11 July, a central gathering place for su ch rallies.

We are told that the police began efforts to address the protestors on the evening of 10 July, and that after a number of meetings it was agreed that the rallies and threats should stop.

However protest gatherings continued on 11 July, and united into a large meeting at noon, at which Muslim leaders from various religious political parties, among them Khatme-e-Nabowat, Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan and Namoos-e-Risalat reportedly reiterated death threats against the brothers, because the government had not sentenced them to death. We are told that among the speakers were Sahibzada Abulkhair Mahumed Zubair and Syed Hidayat Hussain Shah, who are known for inciting violence in the area. At the meeting it was announced that a set of gallows had been set up at the tower of Ghanta Ghar (in the centre of Faisalabad), in preparation for the hanging of blasphemous Christians.

We are told that the brothers remain in detention at the police station without adequate protection against mob violence. There are strong fears that they could be attacked. The men have reported that co-detainees are also threatening them. Immediate action must be taken to remove them from danger, provide strong state protection, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Almost a year ago six Christians, two of them women, were set alight and burned to death under similar circumstances just 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra, as reported in urgent appeal: A human rights activist faces terrorism charges for publicising the murder of Christians, while the mullahs who encouraged the violence remain free and mentioned again in: Newspaper advertisements call for the murder of a human rights lawyer in Punjab; police silently spectate. Houses were also set on fire. The Christian community in Wasapura is extremely concerned that a similar attack could be planned around the anniversary of the Gojra violence, on 31 July. With such incidents already proven to be possible, it is imperative that these concerns are acted on, and the greatest efforts are taken by the administration to protect these Pakistanis from potent ial attack, and reassure them of their security and their rights.

Religious minority groups in Pakistan remain vulnerable due to the continued use and abuse of blasphemy charges, despite section 295C of the PPC. This must be strongly implemented if minorities are to be protected. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directive of extremists in the community must face strong legal action. Charges of blasphemy are still met with the death penalty in Pakistan, and desecrating the Quran carries a life sentence.

The AHRC is also aware of several recent cases in which mosques have used loud speakers to provoke anger against religious minorities. Section 3 of Loud Speaker Act 1965 bans all types of speeches other than Azan (the call to prayer) and the Friday sermon in Arabic. Charges must be taken against those who allow the mosques to be used illegally to incite violence.

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please write letters to the authorities to remind them of their immediate responsibility to protect a threatened population of Christians in Faisalabad, Punjab province, and to urge immediate legal action against those inciting violence against them.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has written to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Independent Expert on minority issues

To support this appeal please click here
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-102-2010

SAMPLE LETTER
Dear __________,
PAKISTAN: The Christian community in Punjab is under threat from extremist groups again; two brothers are illegally charged with blasphemy
Names of victims:
1. Mr. Rashid Emmanuel, son of Emmanuel
2. Mr. Sajid Emmanuel, son of Emmanuel
Both residents of house number T230, Galli number 5, Daud Nagar, Warispura, Faisalabad, Punjab
Names of those allegedly inciting religious violence:
1. Mr. Muhammad Khuram Shahzad, printer, Faisalabad, Punjab
2. Mr. Sahibzada Abulkhair Muhammad Zubair, Leader of Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan, Faisalabad, Punjab province
3. Mr. Syed Hidayat Huassain Shah, leader of Khatm-e-Nabowat, Faisalabad, Punjab province
4. Mr. Mufti Abdul Shakoor Rizvi, former member of Punjab assembly, Faisalabad, Punjab province
5. Mr. Mushtaq Ansari, Councilor of Union Council Warispura, Faisalabad, Punjab province
Date of incident: July 2, 2010
Place of incident: Warispura, Samandri, Faisalabad, Punjab province.

I am writing to voice my deep concern for the safety of two Christian men and their minority community, after they were arrested for blasphemy without a legitimate reason. I am told that the police officers involved have not followed the penal code, which only allows such charges to be made after an investigation by the superintendent of police, and that public rallies from radical Muslims in the area have called for the deaths of the men, and other Christians in the neighbourhood.

On the evening of 2 July Mr. Rashid Emmanuel received a telephone call from a man who claimed to be from a prominent Christian educational centre. He asked to meet Mr. Rashid about an urgent matter at Zilla Council chowk (crossroads) in Faisalabad. When Mr. Rashid arrived later that evening he reports that ten uniformed police officers emerged and arrested him. He was taken to the Civil Lines Police Station nearby and shown a photocopy of a four-page handwritten pamphlet that criticized Islam and its last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The pamphlet appeared to be signed by Mr. Rashid and his younger brother Sajid Emmanuel, and instructed the reader to contact them for further information. It featured their cell phone numbers and national identity card numbers.

I am told that the police detained Mr. Rashid and released a boy who they had mistakenly thought to be Mr. Rashid’s brother. The blasphemy complaint was filed by Mr. Mohammad Khurram Shehzad, a printer who reportedly declared that his assistant had seen a man distributing the pamphlets at Lari Adda, the city’s main bus terminus, on 1 July. Based on this information the police filed a First Information Report (FIR), a legal document for case proceeding in the court). However as you must be aware, the blasphemy law was amended in 2004 specifically to avoid its abuse via baseless charges.

Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) now states that no case of blasphemy can be filed without the investigation of the superintendent of police.

A representative of the Christian community – Mr. Atif Jamil Pagan, the Chief of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Harmony Foundation – contacted the police and was told by station head officer (SHO) Aamir that a sub inspector and an assistant superintendent had been chosen for investigation; he apparently acknowledged that they were not complying with section 295C of the PPC because they were under pressure from extremist Muslim groups in the community.

On 3 July I am told that the police took Mr. Rashid to the Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) for police remand, where the case was correctly refused, and Mr. Rashid was taken to a duty magistrate in the Civil Lines jurisdiction, who agreed to his two-day remand in police custody.

In the mean time Mr. Sajid was handed to the police in the presence of Bishop Joseph Couetts of Faisalabad. The police have sent copies of their handwriting to experts in Lahore, but I understand that the experts reportedly replied that they could not work with the photocopy of the pamphlet.

I am concerned that during this time groups of organized Muslim activists were able to rally against the brothers in public, while inciting violence against Christians, and that loudspeakers from a number of mosques were used illegally to do so (this is illegal under Section 3 of the Loud Speaker Act 1965). On 7 July a procession in Warispura saw local Muslim residents chanting threatening slogans against Christians; one chant called for the hanging of Mr. Rashid and Sajid, and a mob attacked a Catholic Church, breaking its windows and doors.

On 10 July persons in another procession burnt tires on the streets; the threats escalated and a call went up declaring that Christians would not be allowed to live in Warispura. At 1am that night a procession of motorbikes took place, with riders allegedly harassing Christians who were leaving their homes with their belongings. The protestors announced that a meeting would be held at Ghanta Chowk on 11 July, a central gathering place for such rallies.

I understand that the police began efforts to address the protestors on the evening of 10 July, and after a number of meetings were held, it was agreed that the rallies and threats should stop.
However various public gatherings formed on 11 July, and a public meeting took place at noon, in which Muslim leaders from various religious political parties, among them Khatme-e-Nabowat, Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan and Namoos-e-Risalat reiterated death threats against the brothers due to the failure of the government to sentence them. Among the speakers were Sahibzada Abulkhair Mahumed Zubair and Syed Hidayat Hussain Shah, who are known for inciting violence in the area. At the meeting it was announced that a set of gallows had been set up at the tower of Ghanta Ghar (in the centre of Faisalabad), in preparation for the hanging of blasphemous Christians.

I am told that both men remain in detention at the police station, without adequate protection against mob violence. There are strong fears that the men could be attacked at any time. The men have reported that co-detainees are also threatening them. Immediate action must be taken to remove the men from danger, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community, members of which have begun to leave the neighbourhood.

Please note that there are real concerns about the possibility of violence due to the upcoming anniversary of a violent incident, in which police failed to act in time to protect the community, and have not sufficiently investigated since. On July 31 six Christians, two of them women, were set alight and burned to death under similar circumstances, just 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra. Houses were also set on fire. It is imperative that these concerns are acted on, and the greatest efforts are taken by the administration to protect these citizens from potential attack, and reassure them of their security and their rights.

As a final note, I would like to urge that stronger efforts go into the implementation of section 295C of the PPC. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directive of extremists in the community must face strong legal action; as must those who break the law by allowing the loud speakers of mosques to be used to provoke anger against religious minorities.

Yours sincerely,
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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO
1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad, PAKISTAN,
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk
Phone 92-51-9204801-9214171
Fax 92-51-9207458

2. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

3. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99203044
Email: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

4. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

5. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-99212004
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

6. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

7. Mr. Tariq Saleem
Inspector-General of Police, Punjab
Police Head Office, Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-99210064

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
ua@ahrc.asia

Also view Pakistani Christians face Blasphemy Laws again

Update July 19, 2010
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