The Pakistan Penal Code, the main criminal code of Pakistan, punishes blasphemy (Urdu : قانون توہین رسالت) against any recognized religion, providing penalties ranging from a fine to death. From 1967 to 2014, over 1,300 people have been accused of blasphemy, with Muslims constituting most of those accused.
The Pakistan Penal Code, abbreviated as PPC, is a penal code for all offences charged in Pakistan. It was originally prepared by Lord Macaulay with a great consultation in 1860 on the behalf of the Government of India as the Indian Penal Code. After the independence in 1947, Pakistan inherited the same code and subsequently after several amendments by different governments, in Pakistan it is now a mixture of Islamic and English Law. Presently, the Pakistan Penal Code is still in effect and can be amended by the Senate of Pakistan.
A criminal code is a document which compiles all, or a significant amount of, a particular jurisdiction's criminal law. Typically a criminal code will contain offences which are recognised in the jurisdiction, penalties which might be imposed for these offences and some general provisions.
Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred objects, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable.
Many people accused of blasphemy have been murdered before their trials were over,and prominent figures who opposed the blasphemy law have been assassinated. Since 1990, 62 people have been murdered following blasphemy allegations.
According to one religious minority source, an accusation of blasphemy commonly exposes the accused, police, lawyers, and judges to harassment, threats, attacks and rioting.Critics complain that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are "overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas," but calls for change in blasphemy laws have been strongly resisted by Islamic parties - most prominently the Barelvi school of Islam.
Barelvi is a movement following the Sunni Hanafi school of jurisprudence, with over 200 million followers in South Asia. The name derives from the north Indian town of Bareilly, the hometown of its founder and main leader Ahmed Raza Khan (1856–1921). Although Barelvi is the commonly used term in the media and academia, the followers of the movement often prefer to be known by the title of Ahle Sunnat wa Jama'at, or as Sunnis, a reference to their perception as forming an international majority movement.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws became particularly severe between 1980 and 1986, when a number of clauses were added by the military government of General Zia-ul Haq, to "Islamicise" the laws to deny the Muslim character of the Ahmadi minority.Before 1986, only 14 cases of blasphemy were reported. Parliament through the Second Amendment to the Constitution on 7 September 1974, under Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, declared Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims. In 1986 it was supplemented by a new blasphemy provision also applied to Ahmadi Muslims (See Persecution of Ahmadis).
Cases under blasphemy law have also been registered against Muslims who have harassed non-Muslims.
By its constitution, the official name of Pakistan is the "Islamic Republic of Pakistan" as of 1956. More than 96% of Pakistan's 167 million citizens (2008) are Muslims.Among countries with a Muslim majority, Pakistan has the strictest anti-blasphemy laws. The first purpose of those laws is to protect Islamic authority. By the constitution (Article 2), Islam is the state religion. By the constitution's Article 31, it is the country's duty to foster the Islamic way of life. By Article 33, it is the country's duty to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian, and provincial prejudices among the citizens. Under Article 10A of constitution it is also the state's duty to provide for the right of fair trial.
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state. A state with an official religion, while not secular, is not necessarily a theocracy, a country whose rulers have both secular and spiritual authority. State religions are official or government-sanctioned establishments of a religion, but the state does not need be under the control of the religion nor is the state-sanctioned religion necessarily under the control of the state.
Religion-related offences on the territory of modern Pakistan were first codified by the British Raj in 1860, and were expanded in 1927.Pakistan inherited that legislation when it gained independence after the partition of India in 1947. Several sections of Pakistan's Penal Code comprise its blasphemy laws.
|§ 298||Uttering of any word or making any sound or making any gesture or placing of any object in the sight with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person.||1 years imprisonment, or fine, or both|
|§ 298A||Use of derogatory remarks etc., in respect of holy personages. 1980||3 years imprisonment, or fine, or both|
|§ 298B||(Ahmadi blasphemy law) Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places, by Ahmadis. 26 April 1984||3 years imprisonment and fine|
|§ 298C||(Ahmadi blasphemy law) Aka Ordinance XX: f a Muslim, or preaching or propagating his faith, or "in any manner whatsoever" outraging the religious feelings of Muslims, or posing himself as a Muslim. 26 April 1984||3 years imprisonment and fine|
|§ 295||Injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class||Up to 2 years imprisonment or fine, or both|
|§ 295A||Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. 1927||Up to 10 years imprisonment, or fine, or both|
|§ 295B||Defiling, etc., of Quran. 1982||Imprisonment for life|
|§ 295C||Use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, etc. defiles the name of Muhammad or other Prophet(s) 1986||Mandatory Death and fine (Feb. 1990 )|
Except for § 295-C, the provisions of § 295 require that an offence be a consequence of the accused's intent. (See below Sharia.)
§ 298 states:
Between 1986 and 2007, Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with blasphemy offences.Fifty percent of these were non-Muslims, who represent only 3% of the national population. No judicial execution for blasphemy has ever occurred in Pakistan, but 20 of those charged were murdered.
The only law that may be useful in countering misuse of the blasphemy law is PPC 153 A (a), whoever "by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or incites, or attempts to promote or incite, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities" shall be fined and punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to five years.
On 12 January 2011, Prime Minister of Pakistan Yousuf Raza Gilani once again said that there would be no amendments to the blasphemy law.
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) is a religious body which rules on whether any particular law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. If a law is repugnant to Islam, "the President in the case of a law with respect to a matter in the Federal Legislative List or the Concurrent Legislative List, or the Governor in the case of a law with respect to a matter not enumerated in either of those Lists, shall take steps to amend the law so as to bring such law or provision into conformity with the Injunctions of Islam" (Constitution, Article 203D). In October 1990, the FSC ruled that § 295-C was repugnant to Islam by permitting life imprisonment as an alternative to a death sentence. The Court said "the penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet ... is death." The FSC ruled that, if the President did not take action to amend the law before 30 April 1991, then § 295-C would stand amended by its ruling.
Promptly after the FSC's ruling in 1990, Bishop Dani L. Tasleem filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which has the power to overrule the FSC. In April 2009, the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court considered the appeal. Deputy Attorney-General Agha Tariq Mehmood, who represented the federal government, said that the Shariat Appellate Bench dismissed the appeal because the appellant did not pursue it. The appellant did not present any argument on the appeal because the appellant, according to reports, was no longer alive. Consequently, it appears to be the law in Pakistan that persons convicted under § 295-C must be sentenced to death with or without a fine.
Those who are accused of blasphemy may be subject to harassment, threats, and attacks. Police, lawyers, and judges may also be subject to harassment, threats, and attacks when blasphemy is an issue.Those accused of blasphemy are subject to immediate incarceration, and most accused are denied bail to forestall mob violence. It is common for those accused of blasphemy to be put in solitary confinement for their protection from other inmates and guards. Like those who have served a sentence for blasphemy, those who are acquitted of blasphemy usually go into hiding or leave Pakistan.
Mashal Khan (Urdu : ماشال خان) was a Pakistani student at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan who was killed by an angry mob in the premises of the university in April 2017 over allegations of posting blasphemous content online.
Pakistan's support of blasphemy laws has caused it to be active in the international arena in promoting global limitations on freedom of religion or belief and limitations on freedom of expression. In March 2009, Pakistan presented a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva which calls upon the world to formulate laws against the defamation of religion.See blasphemy.
In May 2010, Pakistan blocked access to Facebook because the website hosted a page called Everybody Draw Muhammad Day. Pakistan lifted the block after Facebook prevented access to the page. In June 2010, Pakistan blocked seventeen websites for hosting content that the authorities considered offensive to Muslims. At the same time, Pakistan began to monitor the content of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon, MSN, Hotmail, and Bing.
On 19 March 2014, The Nation polled its readers and later reported that 68% of Pakistanis believe the blasphemy law should be repealed.On the other hand, the International Crisis Group reports that
... the Islamic parties are most successful in galvanising street power when the goal is narrowly linked to obstructing reforms to discriminatory religious laws that often provoke sectarian violence and conflict and undermine the rule of law and constitutionalism.
Pakistani human rights activists say that because there is no punishment for making a false accusation, charges of blasphemy are being used to harass minorities and settle personal conflicts.
Arrests and death sentences issued for blasphemy laws in Pakistan go back to the late 1980s and early 90s. Despite the implementation of these laws, no one has yet been executed by the order of the courts or governments as to date, only imprisoned to await a verdict or killed at the hands of felons who were convinced that the suspects were guilty.
Some of the widely reported cases were:
Apostasy in Islam is commonly defined as the conscious abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed. It includes the act of converting to another religion or non-acceptance of faith to be irreligious, by a person who was born in a Muslim family or who had previously accepted Islam. The definition of apostasy from Islam, and whether and how it should be punished are matters of controversy – Islamic scholars differ in their opinions on these questions.
Mohammed Younus Shaikh is a Pakistani medical doctor, human rights activist and freethinker.
Christians make up one of the two largest (non-Muslim) religious minorities in Pakistan, along with Hindus. The total number of Christians in Pakistan was estimated at 2.5 million in 2005, or 1.6% of the population. Of these, approximately half are Catholic and half Protestant.
Iran is a constitutional, Islamic theocracy. Its official religion is the doctrine of the Twelver Jaafari School. Iran's law against blasphemy derives from Sharia. Blasphemers are usually charged with "spreading corruption on earth", or mofsed-e-filarz, which can also be applied to criminal or political crimes. The law against blasphemy complements laws against criticizing the Islamic regime, insulting Islam, and publishing materials that deviate from Islamic standards. The regime uses these laws to persecute religious minorities such as the Sunni, Bahai, Sufi, and Christians and to persecute dissidents and journalists. Persecuted individuals are subject to surveillance by the "religious police," harassment, prolonged detention, mistreatment, torture, and execution. The courts have acquitted vigilantes who killed in the belief that their victims were engaged in un-Islamic activities.
Blasphemy in Islam is impious utterance or action concerning God, "Blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad and his companions ", insulting an angel or to deny the prophethood of one of the Islamic prophets. The Quran admonishes blasphemy, but does not specify any worldly punishment for blasphemy. The hadiths, which are another source of Sharia, suggest various punishments for blasphemy, which may include death. However, it has been argued that the death penalty applies only to cases where there is treason involved that may seriously harm the Muslim community, especially during times of war. Different traditional schools of jurisprudence prescribe different punishment for blasphemy, depending on whether the blasphemer is Muslim or non-Muslim, a man or a woman. In the modern Muslim world, the laws pertaining to blasphemy vary by country, and some countries prescribe punishments consisting of fines, imprisonment, flogging, hanging, or beheading. Blasphemy laws were rarely enforced in pre-modern Islamic societies, but in the modern era some states and radical groups have used charges of blasphemy in an effort to burnish their religious credentials and gain popular support at the expense of liberal Muslim intellectuals and religious minorities. In recent years, accusations of blasphemy against Islam have sparked international controversies and played part in incidents of mob violence and assassinations of prominent figures.
A blasphemy law is a law prohibiting blasphemy, where blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence to a deity, or sacred things, or toward something considered sacred or inviolable. According to Pew Research Center, about a quarter of the world's countries and territories (26%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies as of 2014.
Mohammad Younus Shaikh is a hotel manager and writer in Kharadar, Pakistan. In 2005, he wrote a book: "Shaitan Maulvi". On account of that book, the police charged Shaikh with offences under Pakistan's Penal Code and under the Anti-terrorism Act. An anti-terrorism court found Shaikh guilty of those offences, and sentenced him to a fine and to life in prison. Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience and called for his immediate release.
Blasphemy law in Indonesia is the legislation, presidential decrees, and ministerial directives that prohibit blasphemy in Indonesia.
Saudi Arabia's laws are an amalgam of rules from Sharia, royal decrees, royal ordinances, other royal codes and bylaws, fatwas from the Council of Senior Scholars and custom and practice.
The blasphemy law in Egypt penalizes: "whoever exploits and uses the religion in advocating and propagating by talk or in writing, or by any other method, extremist thoughts with the aim of instigating sedition and division or disdaining and contempting any of the heavenly religions or the sects belonging thereto, or prejudicing national unity or social peace."
The Federal Republic of Nigeria operates two court systems. Both systems can punish blasphemy. The Constitution provides a Customary (secular) system and a system that incorporates Sharia. The Customary system prohibits blasphemy by section 204 of Nigeria's Criminal Code. Section 204 is entitled "Insult to religion". The section states:
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has Islam as the state religion, and most Jordanians are Sunni Muslims. The kingdom prevents blasphemy against any religion by education, by laws, and by policies that discourage non-conformity.
The People's Republic of Bangladesh went from being a secular state in 1971 to having Islam as the state religion in 1988. Despite its state religion, Bangladesh uses a secular penal code which dates from 1860—the time of the British occupation. The penal code discourages blasphemy by a section that forbids "hurting religious sentiments." Other laws permit the government to confiscate and to ban the publication of blasphemous material. Government officials, police, soldiers, and security forces may have discouraged blasphemy by extrajudicial actions including torture. Schools run by the government have Religious Studies in the curriculum.
The Asia Bibi blasphemy case involves Pakistani Christian woman Aasiya Noreen, who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010. In October 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan acquitted her based on insufficient evidence, though she was not allowed to leave Pakistan until the verdict was reviewed on 29 January 2019.
Religious discrimination in Pakistan is a serious issue in modern day Pakistan. Christians, Hindus, Atheists and Ahmadi Muslims among other religious groups in Pakistan are routinely discriminated against. They are at times refused jobs, loans, housing and other similar things simply because of their choice of religious faith. Christian churches and Ahmadi worship places and their worshippers are often attacked. At the time of Pakistan's creation the 'hostage theory' had been espoused. According to this theory the Hindu minority in Pakistan was to be given a fair deal in Pakistan in order to ensure the protection of the Muslim minority in India. Khawaja Nazimuddin, the 2nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, stated: "I do not agree that religion is a private affair of the individual nor do I agree that in an Islamic state every citizen has identical rights, no matter what his caste, creed or faith be".
Rimsha Masih is a Pakistani girl from Islamabad, who was arrested by Pakistani police on blasphemy charges on August 2012 when she was 14 years old. The alleged charges included desecrating pages of the Quran by burning—a crime punishable by death under Pakistan's blasphemy law. She is a member of Pakistan's Christian minority.
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar are a Pakistani Christian couple who were convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In July 2013 Shafqat Masih and his wife Shagufta Kausar were arrested for sending blasphemous message against the Prophet of Islam. Despite the fact the couple is illiterate, the additional session judge of Toba Tek Singh sentenced them death on April 4, 2014.
Blasphemy: A Memoir: Sentenced to Death over a Cup of Water is a book by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet and Aasiya Noreen better known as Asia Bibi. It is about the real life story of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, in 2010 and is in jail in solitary confinement. She was tried after a dispute over drinking water with her Muslim neighbours after she drank water from the same cup as her Muslim neighbours in a rural village in the Sheikhupura District of Punjab, Pakistan in which she was accused of allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a charge she has denied. The book was dictated by Asia Bibi, an illiterate and mother of five, to her husband from jail. In her book Bibi describes that judge who gave a death sentence received a standing ovation and she had refused convert to Islam stating "I will not convert. I believe in my religion and Jesus Christ."
Khadim Hussain Rizvi is a Pakistani Sunni Barelvi preacher and also the founding chairman of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a religious political party.
In Pakistan, 17 people are on death row for blasphemy, and dozens more have been extrajudicially murdered.
In an extraordinary turn of events, Section 295-A was used to register a blasphemy case against Muslim men for damaging a Hindu temple during riots on Ishq-e-Rasool Day.
This law was amended further in 1982 as 295-B, defiling the Holy Qur'an, was added by Presidential Ordinance 1
... following the judicial amendment of the Federal Shariat Court in February 1990, [the Blasphemy Law] carried with it a mandatory death penalty.