Asia Bibi’s case has undoubtedly set the press on fire. The media spotlights are intensely focused on this issue and nearly everyone; the intellectuals, the so-called intellectuals, the politicians, the know-it-all’s, the talk show nuts, the liberals and the conservatives have something to say on this issue.
Result: After all these endless discussions we are still scratching our head whether the prime fault lies with the blasphemy laws or their execution?
A very thought provoking factor here is the take of the English and Urdu press on the issue. These two mediums serve as an excellent specimen of the “beauty of contrast”. Majority of the writers of English papers condemned these laws and asked unanimously for their removal or at least some amendments to make them less affective. On the contrary, the voice of Urdu press sang quite a different song where instead of speaking for Asia Bibi’s cause, they jumped in defense of the blasphemy laws. Take for instance Hamid Mir’s recent article in the Daily Jang where he cleverly articulated a strong defense for these laws by ringing dead chords of their history, their purpose and their ‘significance’ in our constitution. He sketched an innocent picture of these laws, criticized Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti for speaking against them and urged everyone not to ‘target’ these laws for Asia’s sake. As for the misuse of these laws, he causally brushed it aside by saying that in section 302 (death sentence for those guilty of murder) sometimes innocent people also get convicted by mistake but we obviously can’t remove them from our constitution, therefore the same also goes for the blasphemy laws, what’s the hype? Well, I sincerely admire him for breaking Javed Chaudhary’s record of rotten logistics.
Although some Urdu writers did show earnest compassion but their arguments were angled just to prove Asia Bibi falsely charged and not guilty of uttering any offensive remarks but no words acknowledging the root cause-the law which generates this despotism. The reason is simple: In Urdu press it is not the writer which frames the public’s opinion but it’s the audience which influences the writer’s words. How can we think of addressing issues like these blasphemy laws when the country’s biggest educating medium is merely playing the monopoly of feeding people sweet pills. Available exclusively in the flavors you like.
The defense many blasphemy law fans put up is quite fervent, vibrant and emotional but it lacks only one ingredient-common sense. Such people bluntly label all those speaking for Asia Bibi’s cause ‘shameless’ Muslims who are betraying their religion and have no love for Prophet (P.B.U.H). Love implies obedience, not violence. How much of His teachings such people themselves follow in their daily life? Face it, our country has the most high-spirited public when it comes to raising slogans of the love of Prophet (P.B.U.H) but ironically we are also one of the top ranking position holders when it comes to corruption. The love of Prophet (P.B.U.H) is so strong that we can even kill for it but it’s not potent enough to make us fair in our practical life dealings. We were only born for the grandeur and glory of thrashing the infidels not for being the torch bearers of peace, tolerance, justice, equality or trivial things like that.
In addition, those trying to cover up these stains by narrating the atrocities committed by the West are playing the same old good-for-nothing blame game. Two wrongs don’t make one right. Also this is not merely a case of violation of human rights; it’s about ‘constitutionalised cruelty’. We should fix our own flaws before dictating others what they should do.
Asia Bibi, guilty or not guilty is not the question here. The crux of the matter is that our constitution must serve to give equal rights to all its citizens, not for issuing death certificates to the minorities for not respecting the faith of the majority. Blasphemy laws have no roots in Koran or Shariah. In Koran, God addresses us not the Christens. We are asked to obey and respect Prophet (P.B.U.H) not Christens. Moreover, in Koran it is clearly stated that we (Muslims) must not call bad names to the gods of other religions but any laws making this imperative for us? If this case is resolved by releasing Asia Bibi on the plea of not proven guilty then it’s not an achievement. This day will pass and tomorrow will bring another Asia Bibi.
Blasphemy laws are a potential tool, prone to exploitation. So before posting any nasty offensive comment, remember I can falsely accuse you for saying etc etc blasphemy words and then you will be gone for good. How is that for a change?