MORE than 4,000 cases of blasphemy have been reported after 1986, compared to only seven cases between 1947 and 1986.
If the new law was meant to protect Islam, it seems to have `encouraged` thousands of people to do the opposite, a majority of the accused being Muslims.
Is it believable that Pakistanis are committing blasphemy themselves?
May I suggest that we consider the following issues to put a stop to this problem:
a. Blasphemy must be clearly defined, by sensible thinkers (not mullahs). It is obvious that the followers of various religions believe that only they would go to paradise. Thus, if non-Muslims express the view that Muslims will not go to paradise, there is no reason to be shocked or surprised.
Such a statement is not blasphemous. Allah has made it clear in Sura Al Kafiroon that kafirs can follow their `deen`, while we follow ours.
b. Our main emphasis has wrongly been on the sanctity of pieces of paper carrying scriptures. We fail to understand that the sanctity belongs to the actual divine message itself — and not the pieces of paper it is written upon. Would one apply the same sanctity to Quranic cassettes and CDs? What about computer screens, newspapers, billboards, cellphones, USB sticks, laptops and hard drives?
Why not ban everything modern? We would then go back to the 18th century when Ottomans declared that printing of the Holy Quran was `haraam`.
I would also suggest that the following should be included in the law of blasphemy to remove ambiguities and to exclude the possibilities of abuse of the law by zealots:
1. It must be established that the accused has committed the crime with intent, is in possession of mental faculties and was not provoked. The burden of proof must be on the accuser.
2. The accusers should swear on the Holy Quran that he/she is a devout Muslim and has not committed a `kabeerah` (cardinal) sin. The evidence of such sinners is not acceptable in Islam.
3. If the accused is cleared of the crime, by the court, the accuser will be tried for the offence of blasphemy.
4. The accuser would produce a bail of considerable sum or a guarantor, at the time of FIR.