Sat. Jun 15th, 2019

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The case of Blasphemy Law

The original blasphemy laws, from 1927 (under British rule), were inclusive of all religions and required intent to commit blasphemy:

§ 295
Injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class. Up to 2 years imprisonment or fine, or both.
§ 295A
Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

But, in the 1980s, The Islamic Republic of Pakistan enacted new blasphemy laws, some of which were Islam-specific or specifically anti-Ahmadi. Ahmadis (Qadianis) believe in their latter-day false prophet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in Punjab.

§ 295B
Defiling the Quran. Imprisonment for life.
§ 295C
Defiling the name of Muhammad. Mandatory Death and fine.
§ 298
Wounding the religious feelings of any person. 1 year imprisonment, or fine, or both.
§ 298A
Use of derogatory remarks etc. against holy personages. 3 years imprisonment, or fine, or both.
§ 298B
(Ahmadi blasphemy law) Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places, by Ahmadis. 3 years imprisonment and fine.
§ 298C
(Ahmadi blasphemy law) An Ahmadi, calling himself a Muslim, or preaching or propagating his faith, or “in any manner whatsoever” outraging the religious feelings of Muslims, or posing himself as a Muslim. 3 years imprisonment and fine.

In Islam, Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet and any person claiming prophethood is considered as an blasphemer and a fraud. Intent was not a specified requirement in some of these new laws.

History: Only 3% of Pakistanis are non-Muslims yet, since 1986, half of the 1300+ people charged with blasphemy were non-Muslims (before 1986, only 14 Pakistanis had ever been charged with blasphemy). The overwhelming majority of blasphemy charges were for desecration of the Quran. In 2005, another person named Yusuf Kazzab in the tradition of Mirza Qadiani declared himself a prophet. Since this time Pakistan was an independent country he was immediately arrested and tried for blasphemy under the Islamic law and later he died in jail.

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