Blasphemy, blasphemy everywhere

Sir: Whoever thinks that weaving a web of venom to entrap others will save them from getting poisoned needs to read the writing on the wall. Pakistanis are now entangled in a web of blasphemy wherein this poison is thundering day and night. This venomous disease is now entrapping its makers; no one can forget the unfortunate scenes of the governor of Punjab being shot dead by no one else than his own security guard, and later the same guard being garlanded by the so-called protectors of the law, the lawyers of Rawalpindi. Just recently, a human rights activist and lawyer, Rashid Rehman, who was representing a blasphemy victim in a court of law, was openly threatened by his fellow lawyers in the presence of a presiding judge. Later, Rehman was gunned down in his office. The lawyer who threatened Rehman and the judge who turned a blind eye are very much there in their chambers, doing roaring business.

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Pakistan: Investigate Killing of Rights Lawyer

(New York) – Pakistani authorities should conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the May 7, 2014 killing of human rights activist and lawyer Rashid Rehman, Human Rights Watch said today. Those responsible should be fully and promptly prosecuted.

Rehman’s killing, an apparent reprisal for his willingness to represent people charged under Pakistan’s blasphemylaw, underscores the urgent need for the government to repeal that law, Human Rights Watch said.

Two unidentified gunmen killed Rehman in his office in Multan, Punjab province. Several weeks earlier, Rehman had been threatened with “dire consequences” for defending Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who was facing prosecution under Pakistan’s blasphemy law. Hafeez allegedly disseminated blasphemous statements via his Facebook account, though it is not known what he said, since republishing the statement could lead to blasphemy charges against those who republish it.

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Pakistani police charge 68 lawyers with blasphemy over protest

By: Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani police have registered a case of blasphemy against 68 lawyers who made a public protest after a police officer detained one of their colleagues, officials said on Tuesday, the latest in a tidal wave of such accusations flooding the country.

Analysts say the surge in accusations is a worrying sign the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million people is becoming less tolerant as militant ideas enter mainstream politics.

The colonial-era law does not define blasphemy, but the charge carries the death penalty. Presenting evidence can be considered a new infringement, so judges are reluctant to hear cases.

Judges who free those accused of blasphemy have been attacked and two politicians who suggested reforming the law were shot dead. Those acquitted have often been lynched.

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Being gay in Pakistan: Where anti-gay serial killers are applauded

LAHORE, Pakistan — Sitting at a coffee shop in a posh Lahore neighborhood, two young men hold a heated debate over the serial killer caught killing gay men in their city last month.

“Gay rights are human rights,” says one, arguing that gays have the right to live openly here. This is Pakistan, the other countered. “It is best to let these things stay unsaid, and underground – it's not okay in this society.” It’s a debate so fundamental that it might, at this point, sound hackneyed to a Western audience — yet in Pakistan it’s rare to hear such openness even in a private discussion. 

In late April, a young man named Muhammed Ejaz confessed to killing three gay men over the past two months because he wanted to send a warning about the “evils” of homosexuality.

The 28-year-old paramedic from Lahore said he had lured his victims through a gay social networking site manjam.com and killed them following a sexual encounter in their own homes.

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Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali: Secularism results in totalitarianism wherever it is tried

Got to Have Faith:  Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali on Civilization’s Faith Foundation

By Andrew E. Harrod

“Secularism results in totalitarianism…wherever it is tried” leaving “no other answer” for free societies outside of religion, Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali stated recently at Georgetown University.  Faced with this need for faith, the Pakistan native Nazir-Ali offered illuminating comments on right religion on the basis of his mixed Muslim-Christian familial background and theological studies.

Nazir-Ali addressed “Christian-Muslim Relations:  Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” on April 29, 2014, at Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU).  While recognizing the “personal dimension of the spiritual,” Nazir-Ali focused his comments on religion’s social aspects as a “force that binds people together.”  Thereby Nazir-Ali posed the question of whether free societies can “legitimize everything,” with welfare systems marginalizing religion.

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