Useless Legislation

Islam is now safe in a country that is 97% muslim

Posted on May 8, 2007. Filed under: Enlightened Moderation My Ass, Politics, Talibanization, Useless Legislation |

Today a bill floored by MP Bhandara to alter the blasphemy laws, to provide equal protection to the prophets and founders of minority religions like Christianity and Buddhism on par with the protection provided to prophet Mohammad, was rejected and then verbally trampled upon by Sher Afgan (the federal minister for parliamentary affairs). Mr Bhandara had argued that all Pakistanis are equal citizens regardless of religious affiliations. Thus, he derived the notion that all religions of Pakistani citizens should have equal treatment under law and that all other religions be afforded the same protection against blasphemy that Islam currently enjoys in the country. Blasphemy against Allah (muslim god) and Muhammad(prophet of Islam) is punishable by death in Pakistan’s current Sharia inspired laws. If passed the bill would have made blasphemy against Jesus, Hindu dieties, or Buddha punishable by death.

These blasphemy laws have been proven in many cases to have been used to persecute non-muslims and Muslims alike. Many times the accusers have used these laws to exact revenge from enemies through law or mob-lynching. That second aspect is most worry some as there are many instances where people have been accused and lynched by mobs within minutes in the middle of roads. The passage of equal protection against blasphemy would have meant, religious minorities could just as well accuse their Muslim or non-muslim antagonists of blasphemy. They’ll be able to dish out as well as they have been taking.

Such a law would protect the remains of our Buddhist past as sacred, and prevent the destruction of Buddhist and Hindu statues and shrines from destruction at the hands of wannabe but-shikans(one who smashes idols). Prof. Adil Najam noticed one such instance of the destruction of our Buddhist heritage.

Instead of discussion, Bhandara was booed by the mullahs of the MMA opposition parties, and received a verbal thrashing from Sher Afgan. ‘This is the parliament of an Islamic state, not a secular one. No one can dare to present a bill here which hurts the sentiments of Muslims,’thundered Sher Afgan. Bhandara’s protestations that the bill would not hurt the sentiments of any Muslims, butwill only seek to protect the sentiments of non-muslims similar hurt were lost among the boos and brays from the parliamentarians. With no support from either the government or the opposition, the motion was rejected by the speaker.

Later, the MMAs’ bill of having Apostasy declared a crime punishable by death, was sent to committee after it received no objections from the government.

Curiously, the applicability of the death penalty for apostasy is going to be based on the sexual maturity of the accused. Thus, the punishment will be available for female offenders beginning at the age of sixteen and male offenders at eighteen. years old. I guess, when it comes to arbitrary laws this is as good as any other criterion. They certainly couldn’t have used a mental maturity test for this as that would have absolved the whole country of culpability. I haven’t yet found a report of any provisions for dealing differently with accused deemed mentally deficient. No insanity defence it seems.

There are provisions for those who repent. First time offenders may be forgiven by the court if the offender repents. Second and third time offenses may be punishable by two year jail term. Death upon the dumb-ass who commits the offence a fourth time. Women are treated differently, and in this case with a lighter final sentence. No death penalty for the serial apostate. A fourth offence shall earn her an indefinite sentence till she is rendered completely subservient.

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