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Pakistan and the blasphemy law
  • Pakistan blast
    Pakistan blast
The balance in the end was even worse than previously thought: twenty-two churches set on fire, a cemetery vandalized, ninety-one houses destroyed. This time there was no death, as almost always happens on such occasions, but only by accident. An unspecified number of Pakistani citizens of the Christian religion were beaten and, according to witnesses, tortured by the merry brigade of defenders of the faith: hundreds of people, who in and around Faisalabad unleashed yet another witch hunt better known as a blasphemy hunt while the police stood quietly by "so as not to further exacerbate tempers." The lynching this time was motivated, according to the reconstruction of the diligent Pakistani law enforcement agencies, by two torn and scrawled pages of the Quran. The blasphemous desecrators of the holy book, not content, allegedly left, stapled to the aforementioned pages, photocopies of their ID cards with their first name, last name and address. Which came in particularly handy for the mullah who, from the pulpit, incited the lynching of the two Christians in particular and, just to make good weight, of Christians all: because you know, the only holy book that must not be touched is the Koran, while setting fire to holy books and places of worship of other religions, as well as killing or beating infidels is, for the Pakistan-branded defenders of the faith, a just and desirable thing to do. This is not the first time this has happened, and the list is too long to report here, and it certainly will not be the last. Two days later, in fact, it was the turn of Ahmadi religious citizens, who are Muslim but in Pakistan are declared 'non-Muslim' by law and considered more blasphemous and infidel than anyone. Needless to say, politicians from every party except those from the Islamic Party (a semi-terrorist organization, actually, but in Pakistan the line is blurry) of Tehrik-i-Labbaik Pakistan, which instead enthusiastically participated in the lynching, were quick to condemn the insane act with empty, tepid words. On the other hand, they were too busy protesting harshly against Sweden, which refuses to condemn those who tear or burn two small pages of the Quran: which, as already pointed out, is the only sacred text that one should not touch. In fact, at the moment, the only two 'participants' in the lynching on whom a complaint hangs are the two main victims. The others, the assailants, have been caught and released. Some, while the others have vanished. On the other hand, Punjab's valiant law enforcement agencies, the same ones who a week later took to jail and beat to a pulp the members of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement who peacefully demanded justice without caring about "exacerbating tempers," basically agree with the merry brigade of arsonists: blasphemy (always and only that against Muslims of Sunni confession) must be severely punished. A few days before the burned churches, parliament had enthusiastically passed a motion, yet another, to toughen penalties for blasphemers, who in the most serious cases risk death. Although a couple of years ago, the European Parliament had issued a resolution calling for a review of trade relations with Pakistan, citing "the alarming use of blasphemy charges and the exponential increase in attacks against journalists and activists" as the reason. Because the blasphemy law, in Pakistan, can be used against virtually anyone and is used both to settle disputes between neighbors or seize the land or homes of relatives and acquaintances and to intimidate and blackmail political opponents, activists, journalists and dissidents. Between 1987 and the present, more than two thousand people have been accused of blasphemy: and many, though falsely accused, have been attacked by angry mobs or murdered in cold blood, even in court before the court appointed to try them. Not to mention the sore chapter of girls of other religious denominations being kidnapped, raped, forcibly converted to Islam and then forced into marriage. The fact is that religious fundamentalist drift is now an established reality and destined, if anything, to get worse. On the outskirts of Islamabad, the grave of the assassin of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was murdered for speaking out against anti-blasphemy laws, has become a pilgrimage destination. And religious fundamentalism is being used by the government like Marie Antoinette's infamous brioches: the economy is in tatters, there are no jobs, a government of puppets all being maneuvered by the military and intelligence services, civilians are being judged by military courts, people are disappearing 'picked up' by the usual suspects and being found dead by the roadside, journalists, professors and activists are being picked up, threatened and killed? Does the population begin to murmur or seek answers? Instead of jobs, unrigged elections, and civil liberties, let's give them a big dose of fundamentalism and send them out in protest. Not against the government, but against religious minorities, who are beachheads of the enemies at the gates. Or against the Islamophobic, colonialist, and blasphemous West that not only refuses to conform to the sacred and universal laws of Sharia by sending Charlie Hebdo cartoonists or Quran-burners to their death, but constantly threatens to cut off funding to the 'most dangerous country in the world.
Francesca Marino