The religious fanatics’ efforts to silence the voices of reason in Pakistan are leaving an evil impact. Some peopple are being killed, others are forced to leave the country and many others are left to suffer at the mercy of highly skilled and resourceful mercenaries.
The cycle of fear, recently, was spurred by religiuos groups after a lower court condemned a Christian lady named Aasia Bibi to death, for committing “blasphemy”, i.e. ‘desecrating’ persona of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Mohammed (PBUH). Some people argue that there was immense political pressure from religious groups on the police and the courts to punish the alleged blasphemer.
Several rights based groups, human rights activists, religious scholars, and some individuals within the “secular” parties, did not see eye-to-eye with the court’s verdict and demanded exoneration of the condemned woman.
One of the most vocal advocates of Asia Bibi’s exoneration from the blasphemy charges was the assasinated governor of the Punjab Province, Salman Taseer. He paid with blood for ‘supporting the blasphemer’. A blood thirsty guard of the governor emptied his official gun on him at a busy street in the capital city, Islamabad. The murderer, known by the name of Qadri, later said that he killed the governor because he was trying to repeal the blasphemy law and supporting a ‘blasphemer’. To the shock of millions of people, a group of religious minded lawyers (actually members of a politically religious group) showered Qadri with flowers, for ‘taking revenge from the blasphemer’.
Another vocal supporter of review of the blasphemy law, a highly respected religious scholar, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, had to leave the country because of the threats posed to him and his family by the militant and non-militant religious groups, alike. In a televised interview the revered scholar said that he was being threatened with dire consequences (read murder) for his relatively moderate and rational stances on various issues, including the controversial blasphemy law. “I am not afraid of death”, Ghamidi told the TV anchor, “but I feel that my presence in the country is likely to endanger my family and neighbors also”, he said.
Latest in the series of blasphemy related violence is the murder of Pakistan’s only Christian Federal Minister, Shehbaz Bhatti. As member of the Christian community, who are one of the victims of false blasphemy charges, as well as the Minister of Minority Affairs, Bhatti had been openly advocating the cause of Aasia Bibi’s exoneration. He had also been demanding stoppage to misuse of the blasphemy law by vested interests, for settling family and business disputes.
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