TO anyone familiar with the fabrications that often surround allegations of blasphemy, the revelation that the imam of a local mosque involved in producing the ‘evidence’ of a young Christian girl’s alleged blasphemous act blatantly tampered with the religious paraphernalia will have come as no surprise. What has come as a welcome surprise is that a witness came forward and that the state took action. Khalid Jadoon, the local imam, has been taken in judicial custody, accused of inserting pages of the Quran into the bag containing other religious material that the girl is alleged to have burned. The muezzin of the same mosque who gave his testimony in an Islamabad court on Saturday claims that the imam wanted to beef up the ‘evidence’ to ensure that the girl’s family would have to leave the neighbourhood for good.

Awful as Khalid Jadoon’s alleged act is, the argument that he himself should now be tried under the blasphemy laws is misplaced. The misuse of religious laws cannot be rectified by turning those flawed laws against those who try to misuse them. Instead, what is needed is a national debate and wide-ranging overhaul of laws that are clearly prone to abuse at the hands of those with personal vendettas and of bigoted thought. If guilty, Khalid Jadoon can and must be punished under a host of laws that criminalise fabricating evidence, giving false testimony and fomenting public disorder. The imam can and should become a very public example so that at least some will be deterred from going down the same shameful path. Additionally, it may give courage to more people like the muezzin, Hafiz Mohammad Zubair, who came forward to give testimony in an environment where keeping quiet out of fear is an all too tempting path for bystanders.

Of course, the immediate concern is the fate of the girl herself and the safety of her family and the other Christian families in the neighbourhood. There is much to be grateful for in the fact that the wheels of justice are for once turning in the right direction but the ongoing damage to the girl, her family and other Christians in their neighbourhood must end quickly. For that to happen, the state must play the role it is required to under the law, on principle and in moral terms. The climate of fear surrounding such matters is deep rooted and will take a long time to overcome. But it cannot be overcome at an individual level. Because the state has shirked many, if not most, of its responsibilities, to its citizens for so long, the problem has grown. And it will keep growing unless forceful action is taken.

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Comments (34)

Gerry D'Cunha
September 3, 2012 3:18 pm
Mr Singh:This will never happen in Pakistan, you wait and see..The imam will be set free under some tricky tactics
Kumar
September 4, 2012 6:03 pm
In a 99% Muslim country, Islam or holy book are not in danger that they need protection from man made laws. Even if some one tears holy book are abuses prophet , what difference does it make to real Muslims. Do they respect their religion any less. Does law only applies to Islam or abuse of other religions?
Singh
September 4, 2012 10:43 am
The punishment for blasphemy is death. Isn't it? He tore pages from the Quran which is blasphemy. So why should he not face death? He was going to demand death for that innocent child. Wasn't he? I hope the witnesses who testify against him are safe. I salute them for coming forward at the risk to their own lives.
Singh
September 4, 2012 10:48 am
Where are all the Pakistani politicians? Why are they silent? Are they scared for their lives that if they come out in support of truth the militants will have them? Where is the CJ of Pakistan? Why is he silent? Come on Imran. Come on Zardari. Come on nawaz Sharif. Come on other Mullahs. This is not the time to sleep.
NASAH (USA)
September 4, 2012 2:40 am
The Imam must not be hanged for the blasphemy he committed -- but he must serve jail term for falsely implicating an innocent child. The blasphemy law only blasphemes Pakistan in the eyes of the civilized world.
aftabwilson
September 3, 2012 7:31 am
Why don't people understand that blasphemy law is only related towards Allah (God) and no one else is qualified to use it in favor of any prophet. The blasphemy law which we have in Pakistan is man made and as such can be labelled as Made In Pakistan.
Kumar
September 3, 2012 12:00 pm
Why do we need this law? How does it help Pakistan?
Iman
September 3, 2012 3:09 pm
Kumar I disagree. If this Jadoon person is found guilty of implanting the pages of the Quran in this girls bag and turning it in as evidence then he should be tried for Blasphemy. Think of it logically the essence of the whole thing is the desecration of the holy book, it does not matter who did it. If the girl did not do it then whoever did mut be punished and on top of that should be charged with criminalise fabricating evidence, giving false testimony and fomenting public disorder. Protection should also be provided for the brave witness who has come forward.
Cautious
September 3, 2012 6:35 pm
Not one political leader has the guts to make a public comment asking for this disabled child to be released - tells the rest of the World that it really doesn't matter who you elect your still going to be a xenophobic society who's moral compass is out of sink with the rest of the World.
Tahira
September 3, 2012 6:41 pm
How can the accusation be not proved when the accuser can but a dozen false witnesses to support him? When a nation loses its character and the people can not judge the truth for themselves, that nation suffers like Pakistan. Then again, giving a false testimony is a major sin but the ignorant and poor people are easily threatened by the likes of Imam in Rimsha's case. So what is the solution if any? Do not rely on courts either, they will go by the number of witnesses knowing full well that none is a true witness. Oh God please help this nation.
Kashif Chohan
September 4, 2012 4:23 pm
By Definition of Law Khalid Jadoon has committed Blasphemy by defaming name of Islam. if a 11-14 year old is traumatized and would end up spending 22 days at least in jail if not more. "Not to forget the attempt by those who captured her tried break her arms and burn her alive before she went into police's protection. Christian across Pakistan have a very clear knowledge and memory of what happened in Gojra in 2009 and what was done to Malang in July. Hence attempt to get Christian out is a perfectly laid plan. Every Christian is fully aware of how lethal this law's abuse is and that at time of attack they hardly have time to escape for lives. I think what should be done is a similar arrangement for Khalid Jadoon so that he may know, lets say how would he feel if similar case happened to his child? and if he understands that then if not punished by same what Rimsha would have then he must be made responsible for expenses, healthy upbringing and protection of Rimsha in her Christian religion as his punishment to be an example.
Agha Ata
September 3, 2012 2:02 pm
.He should be released. People would like to see how our public treats this committer of blasphemy!
Disgusted
September 3, 2012 5:26 am
The traumatized little girl's life has been scarred for life. She was already mentally challenged and this horrific incidence perpetrated directly by the mullah will only add to her deterioration. Not only should this mullah be given a taste of his own medicine (put to death under the crazy existing blasphemy laws), but he should also be tried for deliberately trying to destroying the fabric of society and a little gir's life under normal laws.
V. C. Bhutani
September 3, 2012 3:13 pm
I am astounded at the sheer audacity of your editorial. It does not occur to you that if a man falsely accuses someone else of a criminal act leading to the latter’s incarceration and trial in a court of law, then, the moment the falsity is discovered the accuser should stand charged with several offences and must be held responsible. You have invented a convenient alibi: “The misuse of religious laws cannot be rectified by turning those flawed laws against those who try to misuse them.” Why not? They must be prosecuted under laws that they sought to misuse to the disadvantage of others. I would go further and say that such a false accuser must himself be open to the punishment that would have been given to the accused if the accusation had been truthful and based on untainted evidence. In the present case, if Rimshi is proved to have actually burnt pages from the Quran – if we ignore factors like her age, her Down Syndrome, her illiteracy, and her mental age – she will assuredly earn death penalty. By the same token, if her accuser is proved to have made false accusation and to have tampered with evidence, then he should have the same punishment – death penalty. You may or may not repeal or modify the blasphemy law, which in any case is anti-logical, but while it is there, it should be used with effect – according to law. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 3 Sep 2012, 2042 IST
Taaaruf
September 3, 2012 7:26 am
Justice has been done to alleged girl in blasphemy by supreme justice doer- God. It is very sad situation in Pakistan that minorities are being blamed for doing nothing. This has becoome an inhumane trend to humiliate minorities by alleging them in blesphemy. In fact, most blesphmous acts have been done by so called Muslims in past. None of them have ever received punishments for blaspemhy. It is only for the minorities and their fault is that they are living in a muslim dominant society. This is the Pakistani society of religious orthodox not envisioned by Jinnah.
NASAH (USA)
September 5, 2012 12:23 pm
If Pakistan hangs the Imam for Blasphemy -- that means it institutionalizes the fascist law as the law of the land for all times to come. The law needs to be totally abolished.
Faisal
September 3, 2012 11:45 am
Sir, whilst your suggestion that the nation must debate this law is an absolute necessity, there seems to be very less inclination towards this direction. Even if we were to somehow start this debate today, every new blasphemy accused will continue to suffer till the law exists in the books, regardless of nature and extent of the debate. So why is it that this imam should be tried under different laws such as fabrication of evidence etc, when he can justifiably be tried under the blasphemy law that he and so many of his cohorts so vehemently support ; a debate or no debate not withstanding! I dont think supporters of this law will show any leniency or change their opinion of hatred just because we show leniency towards this imam.
Humanist
September 3, 2012 5:34 am
Blasphemy Blasphemy Laws are vague and imprecise.and do not clearly define the crime, therefore, these are open to abuse and exploitation by any mischievous religious person. In almost all cases in Pakistan, the Blasphemy laws have been abused for personal vendetta and to settle interpersonal and religious disputes & business interests. Because of the mob passions involved, courts and administration openly indulge in injustices and repression making the innocent victims and their families suffer. Before the emergence of these fascist religious laws, there were almost no incidences of Blasphemy, now there are hundreds every year.... It is necessary for the Govt to look into the recommendation contained in the Judicial judgements of these cases and : 1. Temporarily stop the implementations of the Blasphemy laws and form a judicial commission to look into the matter 2. In cases where the accusations are not proved, the witnesses and the accusers should be automatically persecuted with the sentences equivalent to the sentences for the crime accused..
Rafi
September 4, 2012 1:47 am
this barbaric law is the most horrific & convenient tool to punish anyone, including children & the mentally challanged.
Ahmed
September 3, 2012 8:45 pm
It doesnt help Pakistan. Or Islam. Or Allah. This law only helps any thug who needs a trick with which to harass the helpless and the oppressed.
Oneil Iqbal
September 3, 2012 11:15 pm
Where are the crowds, demanding the death penalty for this imam? Where are the Muslims who have taken the law in their own hands in such cases in the past? The Hindus minorities are leaving Pakistan & going to india, where the are welcomed with open arms. Where will the Christians go? Who will welcome them with open arms? It is certainly not their Muslim fellow citizens! THEY ARE ALL QUIET! SILENCE IS CONSENT! ~ a patriotic but hurt Pakistani Christian
M. Asghar
September 3, 2012 7:07 am
A few days back the Dawn's editorial underlined the need for blaspheme-accuser's accountability. Now, one is faced with it with arrest of the accuser Imam. Moreover, one needs to look at the problems with the existing law that is misused so easyly with dreadful consequences for the helpless victims .
Nadir Aziz
September 4, 2012 1:02 am
Cannot the CJ step in and save the day for Pakistan.
Wiccan
September 3, 2012 7:48 am
so now who should be tried for blasphemy? the innocent handicap girl or you friendly neighborhood Imam.
Praful Shah
September 10, 2012 5:42 am
Mr. Singh I agree with you. This was created for non muslims.
Praful Shah
September 10, 2012 5:48 am
I hope some way Pakistan will stop race to bottom. I am not too hopeful
Iftikhar Husain
September 3, 2012 11:51 am
Very rightly written editorial I hope some body in the government acts accordingly.
Harvey G
September 3, 2012 2:50 pm
what about that lil girl now.wouldn;t she be allowed to sue the police or deserve some kinda compensation.
Karachi Wala
September 3, 2012 5:36 pm
Unfortunatly, neither it helps Pakistan nor it helps Islam.
Singh
September 5, 2012 11:27 pm
Why is OK to apply this law when a non-muslim is the accused? And why are you against the law only to save the criminal Imam?
Ramoo
September 3, 2012 7:56 pm
This is a good time to say goodbye to blasphamy law in Pakistan. If Imam himself can torn pages of holy book then who will respect Holy book. This happended because of the bad law. If Law was not there, Imam would have not done it.
Singh
September 3, 2012 9:59 am
Will the Imam, now, be tried for blasphemy? If that happens, it will be a big blot on the Muslim clergy system.
Navin
September 3, 2012 7:14 pm
Imam will go scot free! The law will remain unchanged.Change is taboo...
Shyam,USA
September 3, 2012 7:27 pm
The Sane minded would not get a better chance than now to stop the slide of Pakistan to a Somalia. Take the Mullahs head on and scrap the "Blasphemy Law" which empowers the extremists. Of-course the mullahs will start an agitation but it is probably the last opportunity for Pakistan to turn the direction and become a more tolerant, inclusive and modern nation like Turkey. Hope you will have a leader like Kamal Pasha to save Pakistan.
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