Politics of Persecution – 2007

2007

 

Ahmadis remembered at the occasion of declaration of Emergency (plus) in Pakistan!

Islamabad: General Pervaiz Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff declared Emergency on November 3, 2007 in Pakistan. It was more than a constitutional ‘emergency’ as it enforced extra constitutional measures, and was a sort of martial law. It involved inter alia suspension of the Constitution.

Suspension of the Constitution means that its provisions concerning Pakistan-specific definitions of a Muslim and a non-Muslim would stand shelved. However, the author of the Emergency’s declaration was not only mindful of this, he undertook to make sure that Ahmadis’ religious status would remain unchanged. He, therefore, in the brief order, specifically included that “… all provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan embodying Islamic injunctions including Articles…. and 260(3) (a) and (b) shall continue to be in force”. This article defines a Muslim and a non-Muslim.

The state of Pakistan’s self-imposed commitment to the ignoble act of interference in Ahmadis’ freedom of religion and belief is amazing. The fact that the harm and disrepute brought about by this measure to Pakistan in the last 33 years has not shaken the conscience and patriotic sense of the high and mighty is scandalous and enormous.

Enormity of double standards

Hypocrisy and double standards seem to prevail worldwide these days. However, in Pakistan perhaps, one notices its extremes. For instance, on the issue of Blasphemy, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave a formal opinion in a majority verdict in 1993, as follows:

“ When an Ahmadi or Ahmadis display in public, on a placard, a badge, or a poster, or write on walls, or ceremonial gates or bunting, the Kalima (Islamic creed) or chant other Shaare Islam, it would amount to defiling the name of the Holy prophet (pbuh).”

Someone could say, “Unbelievable. Bizarre. Not true”; but the apex court did write that — it can be read in Zaheeruddin vs. State, 1993 S.C.M.R. 1718 at Para 85.

That is one standard. Then there is the other — equally unbelievable, but applicable to others. A minister, Dr Aamer Liaquat, Minister of State for Religious Affairs at the Federal capital wrote the following about the holy founder of the Ahmadiyya community in an article in the daily Jang of June 22, 2007:

“ (A)nd Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, inflicted by cholera died in a latrine, in a filthy state, twisting in agony (airian ragar ragar ke mara) ”

This former minister not only a blasphemer, he is also a liar. Subsequent to his death at Lahore, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s coffin was taken to Qadian by train by official permission of the Civil Surgeon who issued a certificate to that effect indicating that the death was not cholera related.

Dr Aamer Liaquat poses to be a religious scholar but his acts, utterances and appearance betray him as belonging to the world of performing arts rather than piety. In this very article, he eulogizes constable Saqib who, a week earlier, had opened fire with official rifle on three accused of blasphemy who were locked up at Kharian, and succeeded in murdering one of them, Asim Ansari. What a minister in the cabinet of a regime that beats the drum of Enlightened Moderation!

“Ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”    (Bible, NT, St Mathew 23:27)

The President’s observation raises a question

Chapter 31 of the book “In the line of fire” written by President Musharraf has the following as the opening paragraph:

“It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s image abroad has been tarnished so badly that the world associates it only with terrorism and extremism. Many people think of our society only as intolerant and regressive. However much we plead that the vast majority of Pakistan is moderate and that only a fringe element is extremist — and that our national fabric has been damaged by the turbulence to our west in Afghanistan and to our east in Kashmir, not by anything inherent within our borders and society – the message does not get across. I have therefore tried to project a truer image of Pakistan, which I call a soft image, through the promotion of tourism, sports and culture.”

The question arises whether the anti-Ahmadiyya laws, the blasphemy laws, insertion of religion entry in machine readable passport and joint electorate excluding Ahmadis etc have been imposed on Pakistan by the turbulence to our west in Afghanistan and to our east in Kashmir, or are these home grown products of obscurantism bred, encouraged and implemented entirely within by the state?

Tourism, sports and culture should be promoted, but first all the manifestations of extremism that breed terrorism should be obliterated.

 

An Apostasy Bill

Islamabad; May 8, 2007: The Daily Times of May 9, 2007 published the following story:

“NA sends apostasy bill to standing committee

By Irfan Ghouri

Islamabad: The National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday sent a bill called Apostasy Act 2006 to the standing committee concerned for consideration.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) tabled the bill during Private Members’ Day in the assembly.

The bill proposed sentencing to death male apostates and imprisonment till penitence or death for female apostates. The government did not oppose the bill and sent it to the standing committee concerned. If passed, the bill will over-ride all other laws in force at present.

The bill defined apostasy as “the backing out of any Muslim from Islam, including requisites of Deen which also embody the finality of prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).” It sets 18 years as adult age for male and 16 for female.

Section 4 states that apostasy can be proved if the accused confesses to the ‘offence’ in court or at least two adult witnesses appear in court against the accused. It states that the court should be satisfied regarding the evidence of ‘purification’, which is defined as “the methodology through which the court gets information about a witness on whether he is just or unjust. It states that a just witness’ means a Muslim who is known for observing religious obligations and refraining from major sins.

Section 5 states that the court should give a proven apostate at least three days or a month at the maximum to return to Islam. During this period, the accused will stay in jail and will be asked to return to Islam. If he refuses, he should be awarded the death sentence, it adds.

Section 6 states that a pardoned apostate can face rigorous or simple imprisonment extendable to two years, if he commits the offence for the second or third time. In case of the fourth commission he will be liable to the death sentence, it adds

Section 8 proposes suspending all rights of the accused over property, but that the court can restore these rights if the accused is acquitted. If the accused is awarded death, the part of the property, which he owned before committing the offence, will be transferred to his Muslim heirs. The property, which he acquired after the commission, will be forfeited, the bill adds.

It states that the property rights of a female apostate will remain suspended till her death or penitence. In case of her penitence, the rights will be restored and after death, her property will be treated the same way as adopted for male apostates.

Section 9 states that the apostate’s right to guardianship over minors will remain suspended till their death.”

In the statement of Objects and Reasons, the MMA drafters suggest the Bill’s justification in Quran and Sunnah. They are only misleading. Justice Rahman who examined this issue at length in his book, ‘Punishment of Apostasy in Islam’ quotes scores of verses from the Quran, which manifestly deny any earthly punishment for apostasy, and he quotes numerous other verses that support freedom of religion and belief. As for the Sunnah, he has examined the few oft-quoted sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and concluded that the few, who were punished, were not for their apostasy but for their rebellion, treason and war against the Islamic polity.

The Apostasy Bill is identical in many ways to the Blasphemy law. It is against the teachings of the Quran; it relies on opinions of the medieval ulama, it targets religious minorities and it is timed to meet shady political needs. It will prove equally harmful to the state — perhaps more. It will also bring a bad name to Islam.

Among those who signed the proposed Bill are Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, Mr. Liaquat Bloch, Maulana Abdul Malik, Dr Farid Ahmed Piracha, Maulana A Ghafoor Haidri, Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, Mr. Asadullah Bhutto, Mrs. Samia Raheel Qazi, etc; all members of the National Assembly.

According to the press report, the treasury benches had little to say on this fateful bill; they compliantly sent it to the Standing Committee for consideration. On the other hand, they rejected another bill that sought an amendment to the controversial Blasphemy law, and Minister Sher Afgan said, “M.P. Bhandara should not have presented this amendment. Pakistan is an Islamic republic; we cannot tolerate anything on the sensitive issue of defiling the Prophethood.” (The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, May 9, 2007)

It should also be placed on record that no vernacular daily made any editorial comment on the Apostasy Bill, and no column-writer decided to bring forth the mischief of the MMA’s proposed legislation. The daily Post of Lahore, however, was prompt in writing an editorial on the issue, and Mr. Kanwar Idrees wrote a column on it in the Dawn.

Here we spotlight the definition of Apostasy as given in para 2(a) of the Bill: “Apostasy means backing out of any Muslim from Islam including requisites of Deen which also embody the finality of prophet hood of Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W).” It is obvious that Ahmadis are the prime target of this proposed legislation. Although Ahmadis also believe in the Finality of Prophethood, but in 1974 the state rejected Ahmadiyya understanding of the Finality and declared Ahmadis as Not-Muslim; now the mullah wants to take big leap forward by calling them ‘Apostate’ by the proposed definition.

The prestigious Report of The Court of Inquiry (Punjab Disturbances of 1953)  did not miss to take note of the importance given by the Ulama to the issue of Apostasy, and spared 9 pages to examine it in some depth. That part is very readable and interesting (Pages 212-221 ). Here is an extract:

“Keeping in view the several definitions (of a Muslim) given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any other of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of every one else.” (P. 218)

Recently Mr. Tony Blair former prime minister of the United Kingdom switched over to become a Roman Catholic. If the absurd principle of the Pakistani mulla is upheld that anyone who shifts from a majority religious sect to a minority sect should be put to death, then Mr. Blair’s life would be at grave risk. The vulgarity of the mulla’s opinion is too much to describe in words.

The text of the proposed Apostasy bill is placed here.

 

PPP plays to the gallery

Islamabad; June 23, 2007: Pakistan Peoples Party, despite its liberal and secular labels does not hesitate to immediately jump onto the religion wagon to win some confessional votes of doubtful value. Recently, Ms. Benazir had to face some criticism in Rushdie affair, so her acolytes lost no time to flaunt PPP’s services in he field of ’end of prophethood’. Here is an extract from a report in the daily Khabrain of June 24, 2007 that mentioned the statement of one Khurshid Shah of PPP, on the floor of the National Assembly:

“The leadership of Peoples Party is still being made to pay the price for Khatme Nabuwwat (end of prophethood). The issue of Khatme Nabuwwat was resolved by none other than Mr. Bhutto; it was he who had the Qadianis declared Kafir (infidels). Now, once again through a conspiracy, a propaganda campaign has been launched against PPP. Benazir is the best Muslim of all. She never went to Ka’abah and told a lie; she never gained power with the support of Qadianis. The credit on the issue of Khatme Nabuwwat goes to us. Benazir is not only a leader of Pakistan; she is a leader of Islamdom. She is the daughter of her father whom King Faisal declared a Soldier of Islam.”

What a secular and liberal party! Taxas Guinan once defined: A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.

 

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