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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Blasphemous double standards, dirty drinks, discriminatory laws and lawyers

You've heard of Asia Bibi right? A poor Christian farm labourer from an obscure village, persecuted and attacked for her faith, then accused of blasphemy under the notorious 'Hudood code' blasphemy laws and sentenced to death. But have you heard of Aamir Liaquat? Not some obscure poor rural woman, but a religious scholar with his own TV show in Pakistan and a former State Minister for Religious Affairs. When videos emerged of outtakes from his show where he laughed at a woman caller who asked questions about rape and suicide, swore - a lot, and making comments deemed as blaspheming against the companions of Islam's prophet, he claimed that it was all a fake, a conspiracy, that the tapes had been tampered with. Eventually though, he made a tearful public repentance, and fellow religious scholars issued statements that his repentance complied with all sharia requirements. He got away scott free, and continued his show on TV, even though the same Hudood laws used to condemn to death the innocent Asia Bibi required a 3 year prison term and / or a fine for such an offence. Go figure. This exemplifies the reality of the situation in Pakistan.
Oh, what a wonderful law!

Talking of this set of laws, they also impose similar sentences on any of the Muslim Ahmadi sect (deemed as not really Muslims) who referred to themselves as Muslims, called their place of worship a mosque, etc, etc. To guage some idea of the hostility and religious equivalent to racism in Pakistan, we only need to look at a recent event where the Lahore Bar Association voted, apparently unanimously, to ban any 'Shezan' brand drinks in courts and prosecute anyone selling them on court premises. Why? Because they are produced by an Ahmadhi owned company. The lawyers plan to ban all other products from the same firm. Naturally the Ahmahdi lawyers and canteen owners are not happy.

The incident with Aasia Bibi started when she was deemed to have polluted water just by being a Christian, these drinks are banned by bigots just because they are made by Ahmahdi's - no doubt polluted too. Let's call this for what it is. The religious equivalent of racism and apartheid, and it is enforced and enabled by these wicked laws, laws that violate basic human rights and UN human rights declarations. It's time to take a stand. If you want to stand up for the rights of freedom of religion and speech in Pakistan for Christians and other minorities, come and join us on the morning of 10th of March to protest and petition outside the Pakistani embassy and 10 Downing Street, and join us to press for peace with music at our Peace Concert in Trafalgar Square in the afternoon.


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