Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. This is mainly used as a tool to persecute minority faiths and unfairly target minorities.
Origin Of Blasphemy Laws
This Law was first collated by India’s British rulers in 1860. The purpose was
to contain religious strife between Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs across British-ruled India. It protected places of worship and sacred objects and made it a crime to disturb religious assemblies, to trespass on burial sites, and to deliberately insult
the religious beliefs of any person, punishable by up to ten years in prison.
The law was further expanded in 1927, a time when British India
was under a time of political tension and antagonism between different communities, hence the law was tightened.
Meaning Of Blasphemy Law Under
British law was enacted in 1860, and dictates it a crime
- To disturb a religious assembly,
- Trespass on burial grounds,
- Insult religious
- Intentionally destroy or defile a place or an object of worship.
The maximum punishment under these laws ranges from one year to 10 years
in jail, with or without a fine.
Pakistan Inheritance Of Blasphemy Laws
After the Partition of Undivided India on August 14th, 1947, Pakistan came into existence. Pakistan inherited these laws but under the military government of General Zia-ul Haq, between 1980 and 1986, several
clauses were added to the laws. His main agenda was first to “Islamicise” these Laws and second to separate the Ahmadi community legally. Although Ahmadis have already been declared non-Muslim in 1973, from the main body of Pakistan’s overwhelmingly
Under General Zia-ul Haq dictator military rule, during the 1980s new blasphemy laws were created, expanded, and enacted
in several installments.
In 1980, making derogatory remarks against Islamic personages was made an offense, carrying a maximum punishment of
three years in jail.
In 1982, Dictator added another clause prescribed life imprisonment for the “willful” desecration
of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.
And there was
only one politician in the Pakistani Parliament who opposed it. His name was “Muhammad Hamza”.
In 2009, the same year Asia
Bibi was arrested, Politician Hamza who lives in his old constituency, the Punjabi city of Gojra, made international headlines after a series of attacks targeted the city’s biggest Christian settlement.