Sunday, November 4, 2018

Blasphemy Laws and Asia Bibi


First understand that Pakistan included laws against "blasphemy" in its legal code when it was partitioned off from India, and became its own country, in 1947.  Its first such law defined "blasphemy" as: "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" and had a penalty of one year in prison, or a fine, or both. Note how similar this is to "Hate Speech" laws in the US and other Western countries. 

At the time, the population of Pakistan was 85% Muslim and 15% everything else: Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Jewish.  Over the next several decades, the Muslim majority demanded more and more elaborate blasphemy laws, which somehow were always enforced on the minority-religion populations.  Those minority-religion populations have been shrinking ever since.  The Jews were the first to see the handwriting on the wall and move out;  today their descendants live in the U.S., Canada, Israel and India, and there are just 745 Jewish families left in Pakistan.    Buddhists went next;  there are fewer than 1900 of them left in the country.  The Hindus fared better, probably because of India right next door.  HIndus comprise nearly 2% of the population, which makes Hinduism the 2nd largest religion in Pakistan.  However, at least 5000 Hindus per year emigrate to India -- frankly to avoid legal discrimination and harassment from the Muslims.

In the past decade or so the blatantly Muslim government of Pakistan has turned on the Christians, who make up the third-largest religion in the country.  In 2005 there were 2.5 million Christians, or 1.6% of the total population.  Then the "blasphemy" laws changed again, making "any insult against the Prophet" punishable by death.  Assorted Muslims began using the "blasphemy" laws quite freely -- against Christians -- as excuse to swindle property, shut down business rivals, or excuses to riot and kill Christians in increasingly large lots.  

Now, for the past 20 years or so, the Pakistan govt. has divided pretty evenly between three agendas: the Jihadists, who side with the Taliban and want to hurry up the Jihadist takeover of the world;  the pro-western faction, which sees better rewards and more money in siding with the western democracies;  and the opportunists, who play off one side against the other for the money.  This explains why Pakistan didn't complain too much about the US sending troops into Pakistan to take out Osama Bin Laden, as well as why the govt. was sheltering Bin Laden in the first place.  

 So let's look back to June, 2009.  A group of women -- one Christian, Asia Bibi, and the rest Muslim -- were harvesting fruit when, according to the BBC,a row broke out over a bucket of water.  "The women said that because she had used a cup, they could no longer touch it, as her faith had made it unclean.  Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.  She was later beaten up at her home, during which her accusers say she confessed to blasphemy. She was arrested after a police investigation."

She then spent the next 9 years in prison, going through appeals against the death penalty.  Finally her appeal reached the Pakistani Supreme Court.
"In Wednesday's ruling, the Supreme Court acquitted her, saying that the case was based on unreliable evidence and her confession was delivered in front of a crowd 'threatening to kill her'." But they didn't let her out of prison.
Meanwhile, her husband is pleading for asylum -- for himself, and Bibi, and their two children -- in the UK, US or Canada, saying that innocent or no, they were all in great danger if they stayed in Pakistan.  Why?  Because (BBC): "Her acquittal sparked violent protests, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country.  On Saturday, her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled Pakistan, saying he feared for his life."
In other words, the pro-Taliban Jihadist faction is threatening riots, showing its muscle, to intimidate the other two factions.  It's not at all worried about what the rest of the world will think about the end result of "blasphemy laws".  
So, what can the western nations -- and particularly the US -- do about this?  For one thing, it can counter-intimidate the other two factions by threatening to cut off the money.  Sanctions yes, foreign aid no, until Bibi and her whole family are safe -- probably in Canada.  One thing the Jihadists love as much as conquest is money.  The Trump administration has been steadily cutting off the Jihadists' money supply, and the lack is beginning to be felt.  Yes, the Jihadists -- and the other Pakistani factions -- would happily sell a Christian family for money.
And if the US turns the money-spigot back on, once Bibi and family are safe, well, we can always turn it back off again when the Pakistani govt. performs its next atrocity.

--Leslie <;)))><  





7 comments:

jdgalt said...

Blasphemy laws and "hate speech" rules are based on the same bad idea: that some person, group, or belief is so sacred that nobody should be allowed to make fun of him/them/it.

I believe the central value of the West is, and should be, to reject that idea.

Alchemystudiosink said...

its one of the bad things with of thoughtless actions with good intentions. People become blinded by the "Good Intentions" that they never once pause to question things.. and then you've got a hungry snow beast slaughtering your tribe because you let in an old lady without looking beneath the skin.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, JD. Indeed! Maybe somebody should (anonymously) start printing and selling bumper-stickers that say: "Just what's wrong with Islamophobia?" simply to make people stop and think about it.

Hi, Alchemyst. Yes, I wrote the tune to that one. Heheheheh. It's good to know that somebody remembers it.

Alchemystudiosink said...

Yeah I was lucky enough to find some people on youtube that had did some of the older stuff online. So I'm taking up the quest to try and find as many of the old tapes, cds, records and whatever else I can find in places like bookmans, thrift shops, and the like.

I've found it so fun hearing some of the songs, and then a second song that repeats some of the events of the previous one but in a different perspective. Or a third in the case of Threes.

Leslie Fish said...

Try contacting my old music publisher, Mary Creasey of Random Factors, Inc. I believe she has a page on Facebook somewhere. Tell her I sent you.

Alchemystudiosink said...

So she appealed to UK, who denied her asylum amid concerns of unrest and attacks'

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/11/11/asia-bibi-not-offered-uk-asylum-amid-concerns-unrest-attacks/

Leslie Fish said...

Brits have lost their spine since WWII.