Posts Tagged “blasphemy law”

BlasphemyUnbelievably, it’s a crime in many countries to “dis” a religion or any aspect of one. Of course, this makes no sense at all … since offending a religion causes no harm to anyone or anything. The religion will remain what it is, and its followers will continue to follow it, in spite of that disrespect. Nothing changes, just because someone “blasphemes.” Not. One. Fucking. Thing.

Despite the fact that many places have such laws on the books, very often this is still not enough for some truly sanctimonious folk. They feel a compulsion to take that blasphemy law into their own hands. An example of this, as the Associated Press reports, just happened in Jordan (WebCite cached article):

A prominent and outspoken Jordanian writer on Sunday was shot dead in front of the courthouse where he had been on trial for posting a cartoon deemed offensive to Islam on social media.

A Jordanian security official said the shooter was a former imam, or prayer leader, at a local mosque, and said the man had been motivated by his anger over the cartoon posted to Facebook by writer Nahed Hattar. The shooting was the latest in a string of deadly security lapses in Jordan.…

Jordanian media, citing anonymous officials, identified the shooter as Riad Abdullah, 49, a former imam in northern Hashmi, a poor neighborhood in Amman. The reports said Abdullah had recently returned from a trip abroad, but gave no further details.…

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the suspect said he was motivated by the cartoon, which depicted a bearded man, smoking and in bed with two women, asking God to bring him wine and cashews. All physical depictions of God or the Prophet Muhammad, even respectful ones, are forbidden under mainstream Islamic tradition.

While the government of Jordan condemned this vigilante killing, Hattar’s supporters contend the government actually had put him in jeopardy, by having charged him with “blasphemy” in the first place. And lots of Jordanians are happy that Hattar had been gunned down:

But on Sunday, social media accounts of prominent Islamists in Jordan and elsewhere were celebrating Hattar’s death, saying he deserved it for blasphemy.

I expect the killer in this case to be showered with praise, as happened to a Pakistani who assassinated the governor of Punjab in the name of protecting that country’s blasphemy law.

Killing people over “blasphemy” is the height of foolishness … because as I pointed out at the start of this post, mocking, criticizing, or disrespecting a religion quite literally cannot harm it or any of its followers. A religion is a collection of ideas, and as such, can’t be damaged by disparagement. Its followers will continue to believe in it, and it will endure irreverence. The only reason to act out violently over “blasphemy” is immaturity. It’s long past time for the world’s religious believers to grow the fuck up, get over themselves, and accept that not everyone loves their faith (whichever one it may be).

Photo credit: Silly Deity, via Flickr.

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Supporters of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral. Photograph: Anjum Naveed/AP, via The GuardianJust a little while ago I blogged about protests in Pakistan following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who’d assassinated Punjab’s governor Salman Taseer, an opponent of blasphemy laws. Pakistan, you see, is still full of howling barbaric Islamists who like blasphemy laws, because they grant them an excuse to take out their rage on anyone they think dissed their religion.

Even so, these hordes of infantilized Pakistanis managed to outdo themselves, when — as the (UK) Guardian reports — some 100,000 of them showed up at Qadri’s funeral (WebCite cached article):

An estimated crowd of more than 100,000 people have attended the funeral of Mumtaz Qadri, in a massive show of support for the convicted murderer of a leading politician who had criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

The vast gathering on Tuesday centred on Liaquat Park in Rawalpindi, where a succession of clerics made fiery speeches bitterly condemning the government for giving the go-ahead for Monday’s execution of Qadri, a former police bodyguard who became a hero to many of his countrymen after he shot and killed Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, in 2011.…

Many people had travelled from around the country to attend the funeral, and crowds spilled out of the park on to the adjacent thoroughfare where throngs crushed around the flower-strewn ambulance that eventually brought Qadri’s body to the event.

Some of the all-male crowd wore “I am Qadri” signs around their necks while others held up the front page of the Ummat newspaper for bypassers to kiss, which was entirely covered with a photo of Qadri’s dead and garlanded body.…

Sajjad Akhtar Abassi, a lawyer wearing the black suit and tie of his trade, condemned the supreme court for upholding Qadri’s death sentence last year.

“It is a court of law, not a court of justice,” he said. “Islam is a religion of peace and harmony but it does not allow anybody to use wrong words against the prophet or any other holy character.”

One must see the vast turnout for this funeral — and Pakistanis’ support for this vile assassin — to believe it:People crowd around the ambulance carrying the body of Mumtaz Qadri during his funeral in Rawalpindi. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The GuardianYes, we get what you’re saying, Mr Abassi. Islam might “a religion of peace and harmony,” but only so long as everyone belongs to the same sect of that religion. For anyone who’s not, there can be no “peace” nor “harmony,” just endless harassment. Because Islam, I guess.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Top, Anjum Naveed/AP, via The Guardian; middle, Faisal Mahmood/Reuters, via The Guardian.

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Protests such as this one in Lahore took place in several major cities / AFP/Getty photo, via BBC NewsSome five years ago I blogged about something that, I suppose, could only have happened in Pakistan, which is home to millions of howling barbaric Islamist fundamentalists. One Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri had killed Punjab’s provincial governor, Salman Taseer, because the latter had supported repealing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

To give you an idea of what sort of lowlife Qadri is, he’d been Taseer’s bodyguard! And to give you an idea of what sorts of primitive religionist savages Pakistanis are, a bunch of their lawyers showered Qadri with flowers when he arrived to a court appearance, back then.

I bring this up because the machinery of Pakistani justice eventually held Qadri accountable for his crime, and he was executed. But as Religion News Service reports, Pakistanis showed their true colors, by protesting (WebCite cached article):

Pakistan on Monday executed a man who killed the governor of Punjab province over his call to reform strict blasphemy laws that carry a death sentence for insulting Islam.

Street protests broke out within hours by supporters of the killer, who consider him a hero for defending the faith. The head of the Islamabad Bar Council called for a day-long strike of lawyers in protest against the hanging.…

Protesters briefly blocked the main road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Monday after news of the hanging broke. Police later dispersed them and closed off the road to prevent more demonstrations.

Chaudhry predicted larger demonstrations coinciding with Qadri’s funeral, which his legal group said would be held on Tuesday.

“From what we are seeing, this protest movement is only going to increase,” he said.

As is usually the case when such things happen, I will simply point out that blasphemy laws are ridiculous and childish. Blasphemy harms nothing and no one, ever. If a religion has any veracity, no amount of “blasphemy” can change that. If a deity has power, no amount of “insults” can take it away. Blasphemy laws only serve to infantilize people and prevent them from hearing something they might not like. Boo fucking hoo.

Photo credit: AFP/Getty photo, via BBC News.

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bygging þar sem Alþingi Íslendinga situr, síðan 1881 (Íslenska); Parliament Building in Reykjavík, Iceland (English)For years now I’ve pointed out that the “crime” of blasphemy is really no crime at all; it doesn’t actually harm anyone or anything else. Consider: If (for example) someone expresses disrespect for a deity, what does that accomplish? It can’t harm the deity, since — if they exist — deities are metaphysical entities unaffected by such things. The deity — again, if it existed prior to the blasphemy — will continue to exist and in the same state as before. It can’t harm the deity’s religion, because it will go on just as it had previously; it will still have followers, its teachings won’t vanish, its various artifacts (objects/locations of worship, sacred texts, etc.) will go on as before. It also can’t harm the deity’s worshippers; they can keep on worshipping him/her/it as they always did, and continue believing as they did, prior to the blasphemy having been uttered.

Thus, blasphemy damages nothing and no one. People might be offended by it, but that doesn’t really mean anything, since they aren’t harmed in any meaningful way.

Despite this, a lot of countries have outlawed blasphemy, as well as apostasy (refusal to adhere to the prevailing religion, which is related). As noted, because blasphemy never harms anyone or anything, these laws accomplish nothing, except to protect believers in those countries from the terrible burden of being offended by someone outside their faith. This has the corollary effect of sensitizing people to any expression of blasphemy, and this in turn infantilizes them, fooling them into thinking the entire world believes as they do and they’re entitled never to have to know that not everyone does. This leads them to do insanely juvenile things like riot, maim and murder when they hear someone might burn a Qur’an (for example), or kill people over rumored blasphemies that never actually happened.

There really is no reason, therefore, for any jurisdiction on earth to have a blasphemy law.

I’m glad to hear, therefore, that — as the BBC reports — earlier this month, Iceland repealed its old blasphemy law (WebCite cached article):

Iceland’s parliament has abolished its blasphemy laws, despite opposition from some of the country’s churches.

A bill was put forward by the minority Pirate Party [cached], which campaigns for internet and data freedom.

It came after the deadly attack the same month against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The bill said it was “essential in a free society that the public can express themselves without fear of punishment”.

It’s too bad it took a massacre to bring this to their attention … but at least they managed to get this done, driven by Iceland’s Pirate Party, which had been small but is growing in both numbers and political influence (cached). What’s also gratifying is that Iceland’s largest church supported repeal of the blasphemy law (cached):

The Iceland Monitor website said that the Church of Iceland supported the change [cached], and quoted them as saying that “any legislative powers limiting freedom of expression in this way is at variance with modern-day attitudes towards human rights”.

The Catholic Church of Iceland, along with a couple others, opposed it, claiming that allowing people’s religion to be insulted somehow reduces their religious freedom. I haven’t a fucking clue how that works — and I suspect they don’t either — but that’s what they said.

It’s time the entire world grew the fuck up and did what Icelanders did, which is to get rid of blasphemy laws. Because that’s what this is all about, ultimately … the maturity it takes to let people say what they want, even if it offends their religious senses. We can no longer afford the alternative. We just can’t.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Pakistani mob rioting / AP Photo via (UK) Daily MailIt seems Pakistanis are deadly fucking serious about not dissing their prophet … and I mean that literally. They’ve already killed two politicians who criticized that country’s blasphemy law. And now, CNN reports that vigilantes took out a Pakistani who’d been tried under that law, but had been exonerated (WebCite cached article):

Mohamed Imran had been accused, jailed, tried and cleared: if anything, society owed him a debt as a man wrongfully accused.

But his crime was blasphemy. He was meant to have said something derogatory about the prophet Mohammed, so in Pakistan justice worked a little differently. …

Two gunmen burst into the shoe shop where he was sat talking to a friend. Imran tried to duck, to seek cover behind the man next to him — terrified so greatly for his own life that he perhaps forgot about those around him.

But the gunmen found their target and Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws claimed another victim.

Here’s their video report:

As is usual in such cases, CNN offers the vigilantes the “poverty makes it OK” pass:

Others say that religion is all many people have, given the levels of poverty and state dysfunction, and that they don’t like it being insulted. It’s reported that more than 30 of the hundreds of people convicted under the blasphemy laws have been killed by vigilantes.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. Fierce, unrelenting, unforgiving, immature religionism is what caused these people to act. That’s the only reason this particular victim was selected. Had the motivator been mere “poverty,” someone else would have been chosen, someone in a more public place.

Do we really need any further examples of what’s wrong with immature religionism?

Photo credit: AP photo via (UK) Daily Mail.

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Shahbaz Bhatti / Reuters via Express Tribune (PK)I blogged about the execution of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab province in Pakistan over his criticism of that nation’s law against blasphemy. As it turns out, that law’s proponents weren’t finished bumping off that law’s critics. Raging, violent Islamofanatics killed another opponent of the blasphemy law, as the New York Times reports (WebCIte cached article):

The only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead on Wednesday morning as he left his home in the capital to attend a cabinet meeting, an attack strikingly similar to the killing two months ago of another senior politician holding liberal views.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister of minorities, was shot eight times by gunmen who ambushed him as he stepped into his car, police officials said. A pamphlet written by a group of Taliban from the province of Punjab was found near the scene in a middle-class residential neighborhood, the officials said.

Bhatti’s assassins haven’t been apprehended yet, so Pakistanis haven’t yet had a chance to shower them with flower petals. What a wonderfully enlightened country Pakistan is! Why, who wouldn’t want to move there and live in a hovel along with dozens of sanctimoniously-enraged murderers and thousands of their gleeful supporters? See how laws against blasphemy make societies want to live harmoniously together, Kum Ba Ya style?

Photo credit: Reuters via Express Tribune.

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Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the suspected killer of a Pakistani governor, shouted to supporters as he left court on Wednesday in Islamabad. Mohammad Riazur Rehman/Associated PressIf you needed any help understanding what a cesspool of ferocious, mindless, violent religious fanaticism Pakistan is, the recent assassination of Punjab province governor Salman Taseer and its aftermath should finally make that clear. Taseer was an outspoken secularist, and had dared to campaign against Pakistan’s vicious blasphemy law. The New York Times filed this report at the time of his assassination (WebCite cached article):

[Taseer] recently took up a campaign to repeal Pakistan’s contentious blasphemy laws, which were passed under General Zia as a way to promote Islam and unite the country. The laws have been misused to convict minority Pakistanis as the Islamic forces unleashed by the general have gathered strength. The laws prescribe a mandatory death sentence for anyone convicted of insulting Islam.

His own security guard, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, killed him for having done so:

His attacker was identified as Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, an elite-force security guard, who surrendered to the police immediately afterward and implied he had killed the governor because of his campaign to amend the blasphemy laws.

“I am a slave of the Prophet, and the punishment for one who commits blasphemy is death,” he told a television crew from Dunya TV that arrived at the scene shortly after the killing, according to Nasim Zahra, the director of news at the channel.

One would think Pakistanis might view the killing of a public official by his own security detail to be an act of treason. But no. Qadri has been lauded as a hero to Pakistan and to Islam, as the New York Times Lede blog subsequently reports (cached article):

As my colleagues Waqar Gillani and Carlotta Gall report [cached] from Pakistan, a police officer suspected of killing a prominent secular politician on Tuesday was showered with rose petals by Islamist lawyers on his way in to court in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Photographs and video show that the suspected assassin, Malik Mumtaz Qadri, was draped in a garland of flowers by supporters before he entered the court, and emerged from the hearing still wearing it.

Even so-called “moderates” are praising Qadri for his murderous treason:

Pakistan’s Express Tribune reported [cached] that more than 500 religious leaders from what Reuters called “a relatively moderate school of Islam in Pakistan” issued a statement forbidding their followers from mourning for the murdered governor. “No Muslim should attend the funeral or even try to pray for Salman Taseer or even express any kind of regret or sympathy over the incident,” the scholars declared. They added: “We pay rich tributes and salute the bravery, valor and faith of Mumtaz Qadri.”

What this means is that no one can rationally argue that it’s just “the lunatic fringe” within Pakistan who praise Qadri … the country’s “middle ground” is doing so, as well.

How wonderful. What better example does one need of the danger of religiofacism?

Photo Credit: Mohammad Riazur Rehman/AP via New York Times.

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