Protest by Clerics and traders in Pakistan against anti-Blasphemy

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan:

The protest was staged in the main bazaar of Battagram district by the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl and traders, Dawn reported.

The suspect, who is a former Frontier Constabulary official, was arrested and booked under section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, under blasphemy.

The protests were led by ASWJ provincial president Maulana Atta Mohammad Deshani, JUI-F general secretary Maulana Faridudin, Jamaat-i-Islami Hafiz Rasheed Ahmad, trader leaders Shah Hussain, Abdul Ghaffar Deshani and former general secretary of the Battagram District Bar Association Ziaullah Khan.

They said the suspect’s family members won’t be harmed but the government should ensure that they award exemplary punishment to him.

The participants said if the police provided any concession to the suspect or conducted a faulty investigation, the lawyers would take them to the court.

Giving details about the case, Battagram DPO Tariq Mehmood said that the suspect had retired from the FC before joining the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s security team in the district in 2016-17 and added that the suspect’s contractual employment ended in 2020, reported Dawn.

As per the DPO, the suspect revisited his offices on Wednesday but, in a fit of rage, resorted to blasphemous utterances when the relevant staff members promised to update him on the matter later.

However, the suspect claimed that he had heated exchanges with the employees of DPO offices but denied committing blasphemy. The suspect was ultimately booked under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of a senior clerk at his office.

The misuse of the draconian blasphemy laws against minorities and even members of the Muslim community to settle personal grudges is rampant in Pakistan. The minorities in Pakistan are constantly being murdered and subjected to inhuman brutalities in the name of blasphemy, conversion to Islam and other sectarian differences.

The blasphemy cases are not new in Pakistan. At least 585 persons were booked on charges of blasphemy in 2021, with the overwhelming majority from Punjab, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan citing the police data.

Pakistan inherited the blasphemy laws after Partition in 1947. However, during General Zia-ul Haq’s regime between 1980 to 1986, a number of clauses were introduced that included a provision to punish blasphemy against Prophet Muhammed and the penalty for this was death or imprisonment for life.

According to data by the National Commission for Justice and Peace, 776 Muslims, 505 Ahmadis, 229 Christians and 30 Hindus have been booked under the blasphemy law from 1987 to 2018.

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