Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pakistan Paper Surveys Mob Violence Following Blasphemy Accusations

Pakistan's Express Tribune today surveys Pakistan's growing problem of mob violence following accusations of blasphemy.  There have been two such incidents in the past 11 days.  According to the paper:
Between 1947 – the year of Pakistan’s creation – and 1985, only 14 cases of blasphemy were registered by law enforcement agencies. In 1986, the military regime of General Ziaul Haq made blasphemy a capital offence and broadened its classification. Since that year, over 4,000 such cases have been registered....
On March 7, 2017, an Islamabad High Court judge ... went on a diatribe against online ‘blasphemy’, declaring it a form of terrorism and demanding that the government initiate a crackdown immediately. Following this, the Pakistan Interior Minister ... condemned online ‘blasphemers’ and ordered that action be taken against them. Since then, four people have been arrested on charges of blasphemy and Facebook has managed to shut down 85% of the pages deemed blasphemous.
These developments have also encouraged certain televangelists and social media activists who have embarked on a campaign to identify individuals they deem to be offending religious sensitivities.
The lynch mobs of today have not occurred in isolation. They are no natural expressions or consequences of the Islamic faith but a direct consequence of politicians and other national institutions weaponising religion and utilising it as a political tool – a tool that recruits militants for proxy warfare in Afghanistan and Indian-occupied Kashmir and brings in conservative votes during elections.