The dangers of ignoring ‘malicious intent’ in allegations of ‘injuring religious sentiments’

Shaheen Dhada, left, and Renu Srinivasan, who were arrested for their Facebook posts, leave a court in Mumbai on Nov 20, 2012. AP photo

Shaheen Dada (left) and Renu Srinivasan were arrested last Monday, seen here leaving a court in Mumbai on Nov 20, 2012. AP photo

Some thoughts on ‘blasphemy’ and the issue of ‘injuring religious sentiments’, in this blog post, which includes ‘Malicious Intent’, an article I wrote for The New Humanist on the blasphemy issue (original article below including references deleted from the published piece for reasons of space). Since then, in a move that was widely welcomed, the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court quashed the First Information Report (FIR) of the “blasphemy” case registered against the minor Christian girl Rimsha Masih. Here is the link to a downloadable PDF copy of the judgment, dated Nov 14, 2012 – IHC verdict on the Rimsha caseContinue reading

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Lest we forget…. other minors in Pakistan accused of ‘blasphemy’

1993 – May 11: Salamat Masih, a 14-year-old Christian boy, was named as the main accused in a case lodged by the imam of the mosque at Ratta Dhotran, district Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan. It was alleged that Salamat had written derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (SW) on the mosque walls and  thrown slips of paper with similar language written on them into the mosque. Salamat’s father Rehmat Masih and uncle Manzoor Masih were co-accused. Manzoor Masih and Salamat Masih were illiterate. A sessions court sentenced them to death but the high court later acquitted them. Manzoor Masih was shot dead during the hearings, and the High Court Judge, Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who acquitted them, was also later shot dead. Salamat Masih and Rehmat Masih had to flee the country.

For a list of more cases see Incidents of minors in Pakistan accused of ‘blasphemy’ at the Citizens for Democracy blog

Zarteef Khan Afridi: The tribesman who showed the way

Zarteef Afridi's latest photo. Courtesy: HRCP

A tribute to the human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi who was shot dead recently – my article in The News on Sunday. Latitude News earlier published a shorter, different version titled In Pakistan, an unlikely hero dies for his cause. Also see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

The tribesman who showed the way

There was the letter from an anonymous writer saying he was going to hunt down and kill her. And then there was the letter from an Afridi tribesman offering to come down and protect her.

This was in the mid-1990s. The recipient of the letters was the fiery human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, under threat for having taken on the case of Salamat Masih, the illiterate Christian boy sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ for having allegedly written sacrilegious words on the walls of a village mosque. Continue reading

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