The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are very strict as compare to the India as the punishment can even extend up to the death of the person who has insulted the Islam or the prophet. And it is clearly the violation of the human rights, as it has been widely misused against the minority communities. One of the most shocking incidents of the notorious Blasphemy laws in Pakistan was the assassination of the Punjab Governor- Salman Taseer, who was brutally shot dead by his own security staff. The murderer, Mumtaz Qadri believed Salman taseer to have backed blasphemies against the prophet Mohammad allegedly made by a member of Christian community girl, Aasia Bibi.
People who are affected by the blasphemy laws in Pakistan
The human rights commission has been recording blasphemy cases in Pakistan for a long time. Their report says that around 40 percent of people booked under the blasphemy laws belong to the highly discriminated and targeted, Ahmadiyya community. The Human rights commission of Pakistan says blasphemy law continue to be misused, especially against dissidents, with cases in which mere accusations that someone committed blasphemy lead to deadly mob violence. While deaths directly linked to acts of terrorism declined in 2017, the report said attacks against the country’s minorities were on rise. A considerable majority of the people supports the idea that people should be punished to insult Islam, but there is inadequate knowledge of what the religious books actually say. Many people support the blasphemy law, which was implemented by the military Dictator General Zia-Ul-Haq and is considered direct adaption from the Quran. When Punjab governor Salman taseer was assassinated who was an eminent detractor of the notorious blasphemy law, Pakistan remained divided, with some healing his assassin “Mumtaz Quadri” as a hero. The national commission of peace and justice says that in last 25 years, 1058 cases blasphemy were registered, of the accused, 456 were Ahmadis, 449 were Muslims, 132 were Christians and 21 were Hindus. Non Muslims, who are four percent of Pakistan’s population, are 57 percent of those charged with blasphemy. The other aspect is that, by far, the majority of cases filed in Punjab.
The blasphemy incidents are very less in Pakistan as compare to the India due to very strict laws but somewhere they are also infringing the human rights of the general public and now it has been become the tool of oppression for the minorities. And especially there is lack of definition of the term “religion”. In India too many blasphemy incidents have been reported in previous years. In 2011, the Indian ministry of communications and information technology issued new rules requiring operators of social media networks to screen and remove blasphemous content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint. In January 2015, the well-received and record breaking high-grossing bollywood film PK satirized problems with religion through the eyes of an alien in human form. It was criticized by Hindu nationalist who disliked it satire on “god men” and called for a ban on the film and the arrest of its star Aamir khan and the filmmakers. Director and writer Rajkumar hirani responded by explaining firstly we are human beings and not Hindus and Muslims. Everyone should have the right to freedom of speech and expression whatever they want to. Mainly section 295 of the Indian penal code criminalizes insult to religion it allows up to three years imprisonment and fines for whoever with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feeling of any class of citizens of India, by words either spoken or unwritten or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise insults or attempts to insult the religious beliefs of a class. But still blasphemy punishment is very less as compare to Pakistan in India. Even blasphemous acts can end up with death penalty in Pakistan and in India it can end up with 3 years imprisonment only. This is the reason why blasphemy incidents are very much in India as compare to the Pakistan.
Blasphemy laws in Pakistan under Pakistan penal code: –
The blasphemy laws in Pakistan are very strict as compare to India, following sections are dealing with the blasphemy laws under Pakistan penal code. These sections are prescribing more punishment for blasphemy.
Section-295. Injuries or defiling place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class. This section of P.P.C, criminalizes destroying, damaging, or defiling any place of worship, help sacred by any class of persons. It also criminalizes person who has an intention to damage or defile a place of worship as an insult to religion. The punishment for the crime is imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.
Section 295-A. Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage, religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
The purpose of this section is to penalize a person who intentionally insults religious feelings of any citizens of Pakistan by either spoken or written, the punishment imprisonment of either for a term which extend to 10 years or fine or with both.
Section 295-B. Defiling etc. of holy Quran This section penalizes any willful action of defiling, damaging or desecrating a copy or even an extract of holy Quran or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose. The punishment for this act is imprisonment of life.
295-C. Use of derogatory remarks etc. in respect of the holy prophet, The punishment for defiling the name of the prophet Muhammad by spoken or written words, or by visible representation, is death, or imprisonment for life and shall be liable to fine.
296. Disturbing religion assembly- causing disturbance to any religion assembly carries the sentence of imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to 1 year or with fine or with both.
298. Uttering words etc. with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings Uttering words or making sounds in the hearing of that person or making any gesture in order to intentionally hurt religious feelings of any person punishes with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.
298A- Use of derogatory remarks etc. in respect of holy personages: Imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both can be applied to a person who defiles the name of any wife or members of the family of Prophet Muhammad or any of the caliphs or companions.
298B- Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles, etc. reserved for certain holy personages or places -It is punishable for a person or person belonging to Qadiani group, who call themselves Ahmadispr by any other name to address any person as a Caliph. It is punishable for them to call their worship place Masjid. It is punishable for them to give a call for prayer as the “Muslims” do known as azan. The punishment is imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine.
Charlie Hebdo Incident in France
The Charlie Hebdo magazine started publishing in France in 1970 with the goal of satirizing religion, politics and other topics. The magazine ceased publication in 1980s due to lack of funds. It resumed publishing in the year of 1992. In 2006, Hebdo reprinted controversial cartoon of the prophet Muhammad that appeared in Danish Newspaper Jyllands Posten French president Jacques Chirac criticized the decision and called it “overt provocation”. In 2011, the magazine offices were destroyed by a gasoline bomb after it published a caricature of the prophet Muhammad.
Many people were killed during this incident. During that time there was not any kind of blasphemy laws in France. So it was the very first violation of freedom of speech and expression in France. So to overcome from such kind of the incidents, And to bring the neutrality in respect to the religious beliefs for both spiritualistic and non spiritualistic views France has strictly prohibited the wearing of the religious symbols to the public places. France has the largest Muslim minority. So to protect the right of the minorities European Human Rights Court even banned wearing Burqa in the public places or also any other kind of the religious symbol in the public places.
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