Release Aasiya Bibi, Repeal Blasphemy Laws, Abolish Shariat Court

Pakistanis Shout for Secularism, Minority

Rights and End to Islamization

People of Islamabad got together in front of the Parliament House on Dec 30, 2010 in order to protest against a highly discriminatory Blasphemy Laws of the country, parallel judicial structures especially the Shariat Court especially Shariat Court’s recent Judgment against the Women’s Protection Act (WPA) that brought little relief to women who were being booked under notorious Hudood Laws (throughly anti-women & religious minorities laws promulgated by the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq in 1979 as a part of his Islamization drive). The citizens were gathered under Insani Haqooq Ittehaad (Human Rights Alliance) an alliance of more than 30 civil society organizations and many human rights activists, media personalities, academicians, professional people, women entrepreneurs etc.

According to the Judgment of the Federal Shariat Court, not only the key provisions of the WPA have been taken back to Hudood, but also Shariat Court’s jurisdiction is extended to cover what is the constitutional mandate of Supreme Court of Pakistan.  The protesters were concerned not only for the diminishing space of country’s apex Court – Supreme Court of Pakistan – in the wake of the Judgment given by Federal Shariat Court (FSC) a week ago, but also for the existence of FSC per se. They revived their two decades old demand of abolishing the FSC altogether and ensure a uniform judicial system in the country.

Those who participated the protest, were particularly raising voice for the release of Aasiya Bibi, a Christian woman who has recently been sentenced to death under Blasphemy Laws, which many citizens are convinced are badly drafted and are used as an oppressive tool against not only religious minorities but powerless and marginalized sections of the society. They, however, called upon the Parliament to go for a repeal of Blasphemy Law altogether or a massive amendment to make it toothless. They renewed their resolve to support all those political forces who at this juncture are striving for the change in status quo. They committed their support to the Bill for the Repeal of Blasphemy Laws moved in National Assembly by a woman Member (Ms. Bushra Gauhar) from Awami National Party and another Bill on the Amendment of Blasphemy Laws moved in National Assembly by the ruling party member Ms. Sherry Rehman. Appreciation was also extended to the work of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Minorities’ Rights Chaired by Ms. Nafisa Shah towards this common objective, as well as the attempt made by the Governor of Punjab for the release / Presidential pardon of Aasiya Bibi.They however, urged that all these political leaders should not bow down before the pressure of obscurantist forces within the parliament and in the political parties currently a part of ruling coalition.

The protesters, however, were very angry and raised their strong concerns over the highly objectionable, irresponsible and discouraging statements given by the Law Minister, Senator Babar Awan and the Labour & Manpower Minister Mr. Khursheed Shah. They demanded immediate retraction of these offensive statements against eh Blasphemy Laws Amendment / Repeal by these two cabinet members and urged the Prime Minister to take serious note if the government is serious in supporting an Amendment / Repeal in the Blasphemy Laws.

It is noteworthy that the protesters decided to carry on with the demonstration despite heavy rains that had engulfed the capital since last night. A couple of hundred protesters on a rainy day standing in front of the Parliament House and chanting slogans for a secular Pakistan, a day before the Shutter-down Strike Call by the religious parties, were eager to make a dissent statement before the world and show that Pakistan is not inhabited by religious extremists and obscurantists. “We are not ready to leave the field open for the Religious right to play. We are there and the world should see we are not going to knee down before any number of religious parties” said a student from Iqra University Islamabad.

Following is the text of a Press Statement that the IHI members and protesters issued at the end of the demonstration before peacefully dispersing from the venue.

Citizens of Islamabad Protesting against Blasphemy Laws and Shariat Court Dec 30, 2010

Press Statement

Representatives of civil society, minorities and concerned citizens of Islamabad gathered today under the auspices of the Insani Haqooq Ittehaad – IHI (Human Rights Alliance) to denounce Federal Shariat Court’s the recent decision on Women’s Protection Act, demand the abolishing of Federal Shariat Court and parallel judicial systems i.e. Council of Islamic Ideology, Federal Shariat Court, jirgas, panchayets, and repeal of all laws which are discriminatory to women and minorities included Blasphemy laws and Hudood laws. They also called for the immediate dismissal of Maulana Shirani as the Chair of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

The participants of the rally were a diverse mix of civil society organizations, women’s rights groups, human rights activists, political workers, students’ organizations and minority communities from Islamabad. They raised slogans for a secular and democratic Pakistan. They insisted that the government must work towards the realization of the democratic, secular, and peaceful vision of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan, a vision he clearly articulated in his speech on 11th August 1947 when he stated that religion would have no role to play in the business of the state.

The protesters chanted slogans and demanded repeal of laws that discriminate against women such as Hudood Laws and Qisas and Diyat Law. They also reminded the government that the State has a due diligence duty to ensure protection for women, minorities and other vulnerable sections of the society and should not bow down to political pressures and blackmailing by religious parties.

The demonstration was part of countrywide campaign of the human rights organizations and activist against the Federal Shariat Court decision, in support of its abolishing and repeal of Blasphemy laws.  The protesters also demanded that the government should stand up to the retrogressive religious forces in the country and not capitulate to their blackmail. They called upon the government to ensure the rights of religious minorities by immediately releasing Aasiya Bibi and repealing the Blasphemy laws.

This protest was the beginning of a national campaign that civil society organizations are starting in all parts of Pakistan from today. Similar protests are planned in all provinces. A national conference and other follow-ups are also planned to demonstrate that the progressive elements of Pakistani society will not bow down to the attacks by the religious right against women and minorities.

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79 comments on “Release Aasiya Bibi, Repeal Blasphemy Laws, Abolish Shariat Court
  1. utpal chattopadhyay says:

    Most Indians are unfortunately unaware of such initiates taken by people in Pakistan. I wish you best of luck in your fight against bigotry

  2. Hunny says:

    Hmmm..!! I always admire secular n democratic system.. So thumbs up to these guys..!!

    N yupp.. Agreed with utpal ji..
    We indians are normally unaware of these initiates

  3. John Nasir says:

    Keep up the good work. We just can’t sit & watch, we have to stand against extremists openly. More we fear them stronger they become.

  4. Kausik Datta says:

    A truly valiant and laudable effort against religiously motivated misogyny and bigotry. My best wishes are with you. I hope you get ample support from all the sane, intelligent and rational citizens of Pakistan; it is high time this country wakes up and joins the march through 21st century.

  5. very good effort , let us come and save pakistan from mulas ........ says:

    strong

  6. Sana Ullah Gondal says:

    Can a just religion support injustice to women or minorities. If Islam is a just religion (that’s what we are told), how can its follower support rather commit injustice to the weak like women, minorities or the poor.

      • Zara Shahid says:

        @Zara Shahid,
        just because some one professes to be a Muslim doesnt mean that he is the representative of that religion and we must form our judgement about a religion by looking at an individual or group pf people. Just like we dont say that Christianity or Hinduism is bad just because a Christian or a Hindu has done some thing wrong and illegal.
        Read the Quran if u want to know what Islam says and look at the conduct of the Prophet (S.A.W) and his Caliphs.
        Also, an act should always be seen in a context. When we say that a man who has issues against some one supporting a blasphemer should take that person to court rather than killing him we must realize that Pakistan’s legal system is so slow and ineffective and coercive with massive delays and costs and corruption that a man of a middle class background doesnt have many options open. While this in no way justifies some one’s murder it helps us to understand why the killer did what he did…and probably we can avoid future incidents of this sort.

      • Yazdy Rusi Palia says:

        @Zara Shahid, Not true, the killer did it because, he is insecure. He is insecure because, his mentors who are behind it feel so insecure at the speed with which this world is changing. If the pace is maintained , his mentor and their ilk will have no space for themselves. Like all parasites from time immemorial, they wish to ride on the backs of uneducated people.
        The more the uneducated, the more power these parasites wield. The more the people get educated, the faster they will have to look for an honest occupation where he will have to deliver or perish.

  7. Zohra says:

    one piece of heartening news in an otherwise bleak year

  8. Zohra says:

    the Islamabad demo was one piece of heartening news in an otherwise bleak year

  9. Susan says:

    LEAVE PAKISTAN. DECLARE YOURSELVES FUTURE VICTIMS OF PERSECUTION even if you are muslim. Your photos will be posted on islamic websites.

    Remember what happened in Germany with Hitler. It all started very slowly…

    The Canadian government has said that it will privilege minorities that are persecuted. We need more decent people as immigrants and not islamic immigration. Canadians no longer want Islam in their surroundings unless it is non visible, meaning no hidjabs.

    Our problems are starting especially with muslim students who attack Jews on the street, in the universities… next, it will be us, Christians.

    You cannot win this battle because your government is too frightened of the violence it would create.

  10. Yazdy Rusi Palia says:

    Friends, I am with you in all your demands. However, as far as minority rights are concerned. The smallest minority is “The Individual” as such my request is demand that “Individual Rights” is supreme. No other rights should supersede Individual Rights.
    Under the guise of Secularism, as long as your struggle succeeds, groups with hidden agenda will join you. strengthen their position and then you may find yourself from the frying pan into the fire. Tread carefully and All the best to you.

  11. nusrat says:

    zara shahid – i do not believe that prophet muhammad was worthy of respect or his life of emulation.
    while i am an agnostic, i still respect those “prophets”, real or mythical, who preached unconditional love towards their fellow man.
    muhammad, is alone amongst his fellow prophets or gods, in the case of hindus, who not only advocated violence but also used the sword himself on occasion as a means to an end.

    ps – i hope you allow my comment on your site.

  12. is it just me or is everybody else sick of her antics?

  13. Yazdy Rusi Palia says:

    Well done my brethren in Pakistan. Every civilized Human being in the world is with you. Those who are not, do not matter. March on, we are proud of you.

  14. when you are about to die. They don’t want you to have any planing for that.

  15. Some say money and religion is the root to all problems in the world, but I believe egoism plays a greater part.

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  31. Asif Ali says:

    One Question:

    Why the Blasphemy accusations are always coming from Punjab. Till now almost 95% of cases are appearing from small villages of Punjab where people with “Large Egos” exist, and these so-called Muslims don’t even spare their Muslim neighbors let alone the Christians.

    My say is this is totally NOT a Muslim/Christian friction as it is being presented in the ” all spiced up manner” Western Media.

    City of Karachi has tons of Goan Christians, they are all sweet, hardworking peaceful people and they are living in harmony since ages AND none of this kinda issue is brought to our knowledge.

    This issue should also be seen in the same context as Pak is under attack Indian insurgents and CIA/Xe agents. I am not giving you a scapegoat here, but the truth is lurking behind the reasons.

  32. Asif Ali says:

    Susan: Please bring yourself “physically” here and lead us to victory and glory…….puhleez will ya???

  33. Asif Ali says:

    Kausik Datta, John Nasir, Utpal & Susan:

    You guyz are in dire need to adjust your views on this issue – How can you say positively that this is not what it seems, I mean how do you know the Islamic Extremists did this??? BTW if you are global insight, almost 90% of so-called Islamic Extremist Organizations as being financed, supervised and running by the CIA.

    If you read a book called 9/11 Synthetic Terror, you will know the truth.

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