Hunts blasphemers

IslamabadIslamabad

Pakistani authorities are asking Facebook for help to identify the people who are blasphemous in social media, according to the newspaper Vårt Land.

Pakistan has asked Facebook to stop users who post blasphemous content in social media, reports BBC.

Facebook has not yet responded to the claim. In a statement they say that they are committed to “protect the privacy and rights of our users.”

 Unpardonable offense

Blasphemy is a sensitive and hot topic in Pakistan. Last week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif backed severe punishment for blasphemy in social media. On Twitter he described blasphemy as an unpardonable offense. Earlier in March hundreds of Islamic students demonstrated in Islamabad for the authorities to arrest those engaged in blasphemy on social media.

Pakistan is an Islamic-dominated country, and blasphemy is primarily understood as a violation against the Prophet Muhammad or the Quran.

In 2010, authorities closed Facebook because of promoting the campaign “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”. The verdict of a court reopened the social platform again.

 FBI cooperation?

The authorities want to cooperate with the FBI and the heads of the various social platforms, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said last week.

 

– Facebook and those offering such services are to share information about the people behind the blasphemous content with us, he said according to the newspaper Dawn.

Snitching

Several intelligence agencies in Pakistan have been ordered to hunt blasphemers. A leader of one of the agencies has openly asked people to snitch on people who spread blasphemous content.

It is not clear what content we are talking about, but earlier accusations have been against descriptions of the Prophet Muhammad and quotes from the Quran, BBC reports.

Five Pakistani bloggers who are accused of blasphemy are now missing. The fear among human rights workers, journalists and bloggers has increased after several smear campaigns against opposition voices in Pakistan. Here blasphemy laws are actively used according to Amnesty International.

Legitimizes violence

Those who threaten other religious stances and at worst kill them, find support in the country’s blasphemy laws, Amnesty International published in a report just before Christmas.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws violate human rights and encourage people to take the law into their own hands,” says the report.

People accused of blasphemy often have trouble to prove their innocence. People are imprisoned and brought to trial without investigation. Even if being acquitted in criminal court, people are still threatened.

 The weakest

Judges and lawyers are also subjected to threats and work in fear of being exposed to violence. It prevents them from carrying out their work impartially, according to the Amnesty report.

Blasphemy laws also prevent Pakistan in fulfilling its obligations towards human rights. Both religion and freedom of expression is violated.

The laws affect the weakest in society – children, the handicapped, the poor and those belonging to religious minorities.

 Rimsha Masih

The report cites the story of Rimsha Masih, a Christian girl with learning difficulties who was accused by an imam of burning pages from the Koran when she was 14 years old. The trial went on for three months before she was set free. The Supreme Court argued that she had been accused without reason, and lower courts had allowed themselves to be used by people with “underlying motives.”

Rimsha Masih and her family later fled to Canada, where they were granted asylum.

 

Source: vl.no / Norway Today

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