Repeal the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan-SAHRA
In the picture, HumanRightsCanada.Org chair Roger Nair speaking on the Blasphemy issue.
After this author came across what is the most popular and read story in Canadian Business today (Click to read), spoke to Roger Nair, a film maker but more importantly in this context , the current chairman of SAHRA (South Asians for Human Rights Association ).
The Law in question is the 'blasphemy law', introduced by Gen. Zia ul Haq (The then dictatorial president of Pakistan) in 1985 later amended by default in 1992 to make death the mandatory punishment for anyone convicted under this law, Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code ("Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet")
SAHRA, a Canadian Human Rights organization, is seeking a complete repeal of this law as its chair states that it violates basic Human rights, its chairman Roger Nair states, "Human rights provide freedom of religion but also equality. No belief system should take precedence on the other for any reason or in any circumstance. This law has no place in today's world and has to go."
SAHRA has asked for repealing of the Blasphemy law since holding a conference in Mississauga about two years ago which was attended by the Government officials from Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Canada ,Mr. Jason Kenney's Office , various Human Rights Organizations and Minister of Minorities of Pakistan Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti.
There was an incident of an extra judicial killing of a 25 year old young man of the Hindu faith, named Jagdish Kumar that the organization brought to light and asked for an inquiry.Despite wide international attention none has been charged in that extra judicial lynching.
On the other hand there have been various incidences where people such as Asiya Bibi, a Christian mother of five , has been sentenced to death on the charges of being blasphemous as well a Doctor Naushad Walyani who is of the Muslim faith himself, was charged,beaten and persecuted for being blasphemous after he threw away a business card of a pharmaceutical agent who shared his first name with prophet Mohammad.
In the case of Asiya Bibi there has been widespread international attention and even an appeal by Pope Benedict XVI to pardon her, has fallen on deaf ears.In the case of the Doctor Naushad Walyani, there has been protests by the Doctors organization in Pakistan but nothing has transpired and charges stand as such.
Citing these incidences ,"These charges are bordering on ridiculous when you clearly see that the punishment does not fit the crime.If you try to put this in perspective for us people in the west, imagine handing down a death sentence for every one who uses expletives with Jesus's Name" said the chairperson of SAHRA.
The population in Pakistan is predominantly Muslim and these charges usually are used to settle scores and personal animosity.The threshold for laying these charges is quite low and anyone with a witness claiming hearing something blasphemous can lay them.
"This Law is Draconian by any standard and has no place in modern Pakistan.Our organization appeals to the Pakistan Government to repeal this law as a priority when Pakistani parliament reconvenes tomorrow on December 20th, 2010 " said SAHRA Chair Roger Nair.
Pakistan's radical elements and organizations are fighting to keep the law.
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Arlington, Virginia, United States