Free Asia Bibi and Abolish the Blasphemy laws – A letter to anyone who wishes to read in Pakistan

On October 16th one of your high court dismissed an appeal from Asia Bibi who has been held in prison for a long time as per your Blasphemy law and the court upheld the ruling of a lower court that had sentenced her to death by hanging….. I know you cannot justify it, no one can because there is no justification for it…. It is just a barbaric law and not something for the civilized society…

As you know she was put in solitary confinement in an 8-by-10 foot cell without windows at the Lahore prison… and the reason given was that since it is a Blasphemy case she could be hurt and need to be protected… well I don’t know if that is the reason because on March 19, 2014, a Pakistani English-language newspaper ‘The Nation’ conducted a poll of its readers that showed 68% of Pakistanis believe the blasphemy law should be repealed…..

I know it is just one news paper but I am sure there are many more who think Asia Bibi’s sentence is just senseless…. Saying that the reason is protection only says that majority in the prison support Blasphemy law….. so may be everyone supporting blasphemy law should be send to the Prison and Asia Bibi should be set free… I know many of you will agree with me on this…

You will also agree with me that an Islamic nation does not mean people of other faiths have to live in fear… here Asia bibi is prosecuted just on hearsay no proofs other than people claiming she said…. I wonder if the same law will prosecute muslims who talk about other religious figures or is that always pardoned as per law or even promoted…. I think you also should wonder like me…..

Forget about being accused for Blasphemy …. Hope you also know that the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in 2011 because of his defense for Asia Bibi and the fact that he opposed the Blasphemy law. The same year if you remember your Minority Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti was also assassinated… which says you don’t need to be accused of blasphemy, you just need to oppose the law that provides capital punishment to people accused of blasphemy and you can get assassinated…. So there is some real restructuring needed in law and order…..

I am not saying this because of my religion, I am not a Muslim and don’t consider I have a religion for that matter, but any religion or establishment that facilitates human rights violation in any way my opinion loses every moral ground on which to stand and preach. And here I think both the religious interpretation of Islam (I would not say Islam because I am not an authority on the religion) and law serving establishment have a defective moral compass that needs to be corrected….. And this whole “there is only peace in my religion” argument is being flawed on a daily basis beyond repair…. Especially by people in power who can change things….. I know It is not my job to transform religions but it should be that of people who believe that their religion should be about peace….

I know what ever I say it might not change anything in any religion, but it is the responsibility of everyone to fight religious politics, monarchies, fascist regimes, dictators and other autocratic forms of government, because they all lead to human rights violation in one form or other, one time or other….

Many people would say Islam does not dictate violence…. But let us be practical here… religion never speaks for itself, it is always interpreted by followers and will always be only interpreted by followers…. every religion has advocated (and even now in some cases) violence and intolerance at some time or the other….. it is up to the followers to get the message out and clean it….. Tolerance is a big graduation scale for any religion….. and history has proven it… what matters is that the impact of intolerance today is 1000 folds more than the impact of intolerance in olden days, so it is the responsibility of religious and non-religious people to uphold tolerance and humanity…. because intolerance impacts instantly all the human beings in this world

I know many would get offended because I am an Indian and I was not born a muslim and consider myself totally religionless and I am writing about something related internally to Pakistan with reference to a religion I do not belong to… but I have my reason….. because I think Pakistani authorities have been overly worried about the muslim minority in my country….. You might remember maulana mahmood madani’s reply to Musharaff when he raised his concern on Indian muslims…. You can search that you tube….. which I think is the answer of majority muslims in India….

I know people would bring up the name of M F Hussain, the issue of Godhara and many others things….. but please be assured that there are many in India (growing in number) who fight everyday with every force that tries to take away the right of Minorities for any reason… And I personally get blamed for minority appeasement in my blogs here….

When I look at India I am proud that my presidents have included Zakir Hussain (the founder of Jamia Millia Islamia), Mohammad Hidayatullah, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, Giani Zail Singh and A. P. J. Abdul Kalam all belonging to the so called minority…. That my film superstars of today include sharukh, Amir, salman, Irfaan and so on…. And that there are countless business men, musicians and scholars and so on who have been able to achieve laurels without the fact that they are a minority…..

For those who read and agree with me, I know you will agree that we both want the same thing in both the nations, that no minority should be humiliated, nor accused for being one, nor victimized and there should not be any human rights violation…… We need a world where people are equal…. and justice is not served based on religious prejudices….

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