Intimidation Drives Blasphemy Convictions in Pakistan

By:  James Heiser
06/01/2012
       
Intimidation Drives Blasphemy Convictions in Pakistan

As Pakistani Christians facing persecution at the hands of their Muslim neighbors, the nation's judicial process is allegedly being hijacked by Islamists to persecute those who do not share their religion.

As Pakistani Christians facing persecution at the hands of their Muslim neighbors, the nation's judicial process is allegedly being hijacked by Islamists to persecute those who do not share their religion.

 

More than a year after Pakistan’s prime minister declared that his nation’s blasphemy laws were “categorically excluded” from amendment, new attention is being focused on a nation where criticizing Mohammed can lead to a death sentence.

Islamists in Pakistan have earned a reputation for simply killing those whom they perceive to stand in opposition to their agenda. When the Muslim governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, had the audacity of opposing the execution of a Christian woman on dubious charges of blasphemy, Taseer himself was assassinated. The reaction of much of Pakistan’s legal community—including 500 attorneys in Islamabad—was to support the assassin.

 

In March 2011, Jihadists murdered the only Christian serving in the government of Pakistan. Shahbaz Bhatti was Pakistan’s Minorities Minister—the person responsible for representing the interests of Christians and other subjugated minorities—until terrorists shot him to death in his own driveway.

 

Now, more than a year after the murder of Bhatti, an United Nations expert in human rights, Gabriela Knaul, is drawing attention to the deformation of Pakistan’s legal system. According to Knaul, such charges need little — if any — substantiation to lead to conviction because of the systemic pattern of pressure placed on judges to quickly convict those individuals who are accused of blasphemy. According to an article for the Associated Press, such pressure is nothing less than intimidation:

 

Click here to read the entire article.

 

Photo: The former head of All Pakistan Minorities Alliance Shahbaz Bhatti, left, who was assassinated in 2011, shows a threatening letter that Michael Javed, right, a Christian resident of Charsadda town, received during a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 16, 2007 : AP Images

 

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