Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Post 80--Insulting the Prophet

In the previous post I wrote about Aasia Bibi (Sometimes her name is spelled as "Asia.") being released from prison. I also wrote how risky this action was in the face of apparently large groups of Muslim extremists who threatened social violence if she were released. I expressed admiration for a judge and a government who dared to release her. As it turns out, I was right.  The government felt compelled to negotiate with extremist groups and then took Bibi back into custody for her own safety in a secret place. Spain and France offered to take her in, but even that was not acceptable to those extremists. I will try to keep you informed as things develop.

Now Bibi's case was one of a false accusation of blasphemy.  You might react with a shrug of your shoulder, thinking that this does not concern you, especially if you live in the Western world. Pakistan is far away from us. But hold on. This post tells you that it's coming closer to us--not Pakistan (It stays where it is; it does not move.), but the Muslim position on blasphemy against the Prophet.   

Bill Warner is a blogger on  < Political Islam.com >.  I find him kind of extreme and conservative.
Now, there's nothing wrong with being conservative, but being extreme is. I am not an extremist, but I am a conservative,  a radical conservative even. Now that will probably sound ominous to you, but my radicality is not the popular kind which is just another word for "extremism." Mine means that I like to go to the radix or root of a problem. That's what "radix" means. In that sense, it is good to be radical, for it means you are not satisfied with a mere superficial interpretation of things.  And conservative? Again not in the popular street sense or even media sense of the word, but philosophically. I have respect for traditional pillars and cultures; I am not a revolutionary so much as a reformer or conserver, but one that always is open to considering new ways in a reformer sort of way. Well, I should get back from this diversion to the real topic of this post.

Warner wrote the following on his post:

"Tyrannical European Court of Human Rights says Mohammed is a Prophet, if insulted there could be blood in the streets."

By now many are familiar with the recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Elizabeth Sabitch Wolf. This ruling stated that “abusive attacks on the Prophet of Islam (Non-Muslims referring to Mohammed as the “Prophet of Islam” is an important detail to understand), [are] capable of stirring up prejudice and putting at risk religious peace, the domestic courts had come to the conclusion that the facts at issue contained elements of incitement to religious intolerance.” 

This statement by the ECHR indicates that in order to maintain religious harmony, citizens may not insult Mohammed, and this is more important than freedom of expression. This European ruling is in line with the Islamic principle of blasphemy. Under Sharia, criticizing Mohammed is equivalent to apostasyand punishable by death. Censoring ourselves to please the Sharia is an underhanded subversion of democracy, an attack on free speech—jihad of the pen and tongue—by our own hands. Without free speech, you no longer have a republic or a democracy, you have tyranny. 

Furthermore, there are two important subtexts to be noted in the ECHR ruling...[continue reading]: Sharia law has now been inserted into the laws of member states – Leading expert on Islam

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Post 79--More on the Bibi Case

This is a follow-up on Post 78.  It comes from Religion News Service, October 31, 2018.  These two posts put together leave little to the imagination. They do not give the impression that opposition to Bibi's release comes only from marginal extremists; it represents a wide swath of  the Pakistani Muslim community. Maybe not marginal extremists; rather, this sort of extremism seems to represent a large percentage of the country's population. I can be wrong here, but that's the impression I gain from the entire Bibi saga.  That impression is made more vivid when one takes into consideration the reaction of the Pakistani Government, that is using strong language and military action to protect Bibe and the rest of the Christian community. That is not a reaction to a marginal group but to a wide swath of the country's Muslim community.

I have great respect for the Government's action. I would not be surprised if it will have a wide-spread rebellion on its hand. For a government to act against such a large community of citizens takes courage and could well lead to its undoing either by violence or election. 


Asia Bibi acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan, freed from death row--by Naila Inayat

October 31, 2018

Pakistan protesters rally against a Supreme Court decision that ordered the release of Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy, on Oct. 31, 2018, in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan's top court on Wednesday acquitted Bibi, who was sentenced to death under the country's controversial blasphemy law, a landmark ruling that sparked protests by hard-line Islamists and raised fears of violence. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)LAHORE, Pakistan (RNS) — 
Hard-line Islamic leaders were furious at the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s decision on Wednesday (Oct. 31) to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who has been on death row since 2010 after being accused of blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad.
Addressing a protest in front of the provincial assembly in Lahore, firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, founder of the far-right Islamist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik, and his associate, Afzal Qadri, said Muslims should rise against the military and the government of Pakistan for releasing a blasphemer.
“All soldiers of Pakistan army must rise against the army chief, General Qamar Bajwa, and the judges who gave the verdict in favor of Asia Bibi should be killed,” said Qadri.
Protesters in other major cities stormed the streets, carrying sticks and blocking roads with sit-ins.
In a short video message after Bibi’s acquittal, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan issued a clear warning to the religious groups.
“The state will not cow down to threats and we will fulfill our responsibility of protecting the life and property of people,” he said. “I am telling you, do not take on the state. The state will exercise its power if you so as much as even decide to incite any kind of violence at a time when the whole country is trying to rise together. Don’t force us into taking action.”
The appeal to rebellion and government threat of a crackdown came after the country’s top court released a 56-page verdict finding Bibi innocent of blasphemy charges, which were leveled after she was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during an argument with her colleagues over drinking from a bucket meant for Muslims. The mother of two children and three stepchildren, she denied the allegations.
Blasphemy cases are increasingly common in Pakistan. Adopted under British rule, they carried a maximum sentence of two years. But in the 1980s, the country’s military leaders made the punishments harsher, with sentences of life imprisonment and death, to garner support among Islamic conservatives.
“Pakistan is an Islamic state. Here, people should abide by our laws. If Christians or Ahmadis have issues living here, they can leave and go to Israel,” said Mohammad Zahir, 29, a Tehreek-e-Labbaik supporter in Lahore. “Here, people will live how the Quran tells them.”

Pakistan Christians distribute sweets to celebrate the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five who has been on death row since 2010 accused of blasphemy, in Multan, Pakistan, on Oct. 31, 2018. Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday acquitted Bibi, who was sentenced to death under the country’s controversial blasphemy law, a landmark ruling that sparked protests by hard-line Islamists and raised fears of violence. (AP Photo/Irum Asim)
A total of 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadi Muslims, 187 Christians and 21 Hindus have been charged under the blasphemy rules since 1987, the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a Catholic group, said earlier this year. Those numbers do not include vigilante killings and lynchings that occur in remote areas where the central government has little authority.
Prosecutors decided to seek the maximum penalty – death – for Bibi. If they had been successful, her death would have been the first time the government executed someone for defiling the prophet.
The court ordered Bibi, 51, released from prison, declaring that she is innocent because prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“She appears to be a person, in the words of Shakespeare’s King Lear, ‘more sinned against than sinning,'” said the judges’ verdict, which also quoted the Quran and Islamic scholars.
Bibi’s 18-year-old daughter, Eisham Ashiq, described the verdict as an answer to her family’s prayers. “This is the most wonderful moment. I can’t wait to hug my mother and then celebrate with my family. I am grateful to God for listening to our prayers,” said Ashiq.
Facing routine extremist religious persecution, Pakistan’s Christian community saw the ruling as a vindication of their human rights. The second-largest religious minority in Pakistan, Christians make up around 2 percent of the country’s population of 210 million.
“Today is like the dawn of new hope for oppressed minorities,” said Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need, a group that advocates for Christians around the world. “It is important that justice is not just seen but is done.”
Those who spoke in support of Bibi over the years faced violence.
Punjab Gov. Salmaan Taseer, who lobbied for a presidential pardon for Bibi, was gunned down by his own security officer in 2011. A month later, Pakistani Minister of Religious Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a vocal critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, was also shot dead.
The government on Wednesday dispatched troops to Christian neighborhoods in case of Muslim reprisals.
“I am extremely happy for Asia. She is one of us and her story tells how tomorrow it could be any one of us who will be imprisoned for being a minority,” said Emanuel Khan, 24, a shopkeeper in Lahore. “Honestly, looking at the situation unfold, I am scared too for my family. Our neighborhood of Youhanabad, which is the biggest Christian locale in the city, is surrounded by paramilitary forces ever since the court verdict came in. It is tense here.”
Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said the reaction to the verdict and Bibi’s suffering – she was in solitary confinement for most of her time in prison – were indications of the intolerance toward minorities in Pakistan.
“Asia Bibi has endured almost 10 years of brutal incarceration in isolation. The world has watched her suffer. Her freedom can hardly be called justice, and nothing will ever compensate her for her lost years,” said Chowdhry.
Her family told AFP earlier this month that the blasphemy case could force the family to leave the country.
“Living in Pakistan for us is very difficult,” her husband, Ashiq Mesih, said. “We don’t go out of our home and if we go, we come out very carefully.”