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Ashrafi opposes repeal of blasphemy law

Published Nov 13, 2014 06:43am


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LAHORE: Opposing calls for repealing the blasphemy law, Pakistan Ulema Council chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi has suggested that instead those misusing the law should be given the punishment prescribed for its violators.

Referring to IS posters and wall-chalking being reported in suburban areas of the provincial metropolis, he describes it as a reaction to the hoisting of flags of Hizbullah, a pro-Iran militant outfit active in Lebanon, during activities of some parties here.

“The blasphemy law should stay and those proposing its repealing are neither well-wishers of the non-Muslims nor of the country,” Ashrafi told a training session organised for religious scholars by the council here on Wednesday.

Also read: Ulema hold police responsible for couple’s murder

“Our stance is that those misusing the law by levelling false accusations should be handed down death penalty as is prescribed for the violators of the law.”

Pledging not to allow anyone to use 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code for one’s vested interests, he said investigation into the Kot Radha Kishan incident would reveal that the group desirous of spreading anarchy in the country was behind it and not any seminary.

He demanded an end to an environment of fear in the neighbourhood by trying the real accused instead of taking into custody innocent people.

Referring to IS posters, Ashrafi said an outfit that had no existence in the country was being attributed to be having links with seminaries of south Punjab. He questioned that who was hoisting flags of Hizbullah here, a reference to raising of the outfit’s flags in Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Islamabad sit-in, and cautioned that it would attract reaction from (the rival sect’s) IS.

Clarifying that he was opposed to the IS ideology, he held the international injustices responsible for the creation of such extremist organisations.

Supporting restrictions on such organisations, he said these outfits had no room in Pakistan but the government should also adopt policies based on justice.

The council chairman said a code of ethics for mosques and seminaries had been prepared but was not being implemented. He urged the scholars to help implement the same.

Criticising Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, he asked what type of system the cricketer-turned-politician wanted to implement. He advised the PTI leader to learn ethics as one could not reach the power corridors through “unethical” tactics.

Published in Dawn, November 13th, 2014


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Comments (71) Closed

UFO Nov 13, 2014 06:51am

Whether you like him or not, he has a more workable solution. Repealing the law would simply lead to people taking matters in their own hands and there will be an endless stream of events similar to the recent Christian couple murder incidence. Handing down death penalty to those who cannot prove the blasphemy accusation in court would strongly deter people misusing it.

Hrushi NYC Nov 13, 2014 07:02am

Yes, as long as it is only "others" that are at the receiving end of this law, there is no empathy towards the victims of the law.

Aamir Nov 13, 2014 07:11am

What no comments? The law should be repealed.

Mullah Ansar Nov 13, 2014 07:14am

Repeal them, blasphemy laws, ASAP. They are ruining the image of Pakistan. Please

Aku Nov 13, 2014 07:20am

For once I would agree. Unfortunately it is the implementation of law that is the problem. Any law change will have no effect in the circumstances unless the enforcement is improved, those violating law are punished

Fomi Nov 13, 2014 07:28am

Talking about death penalty for violators... What do you say about the Salman Taseer` s killer... Govt is hesitant in his execution and you very well why..

Musafir Nov 13, 2014 07:31am

I wonder if the Honorable Gentleman Ashrafi could answer; how is it that billions of non-Muslims and dozens of non-Islamic countries have survived, progressed, and live in harmony with other human beings without a blasphemy law? Whereas, in Islamic and Muslim majority countries (e.g. Pakistan, Saudi, Iran, etc. etc), the minorities and non-Muslims live in fear and persecution despite the laws that are on the books and still they are unable to protect them. And this gentleman says that repealing the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan would be detrimental for non-Muslims. And Honorable Gentleman Ashrafi is an Islamic scholar, I guess.

Khan, Canada Nov 13, 2014 07:32am

This mullah was found drunk several times. What punishment he suggest for himself??? blasphemy law should be repealed its in no body's interest. Islam do not need these laws.

LiveAndLetlive Nov 13, 2014 07:39am

This Law must me repealed. It is has created so many problems for people of Pakistan. Views on religions are a personal opinion and no one should be executed just because they utter few words which are offensive to Muslims. We must create a culture of Tolerance and treat Minorities with respect and equality. Maulvi Asharafi needs to shed some pounds and give a message of peace and love for everyone.

Atta Nov 13, 2014 07:39am

Is this not the same mullah who consumes alcohol?

Venu Nov 13, 2014 07:55am

What is this obsession with death penalties? Most people who were accused of blasphemy were involved in some argument with someone accusing them. Neither party deserves to die - they are petty quarrels and they deserve no further aggravation. Why is the media, politicians and so called elite keeping quite? The fear under which Pakistani people operate is really depressing. You know it's plain wrong, just speak up and get this law repealed once and for all.

I. Ahmed Nov 13, 2014 08:01am

First Ashrafi has to be punished for his drunkard ranting on TV channel and his case of 2012 when he claimed he was kidnapped while found drunk at the back of the car.

Arun Nov 13, 2014 08:15am

Little surprise that clerics want to keep the blasphemy law. They will never recognize that in practice this has become an anti minority law that hurts minorities and hurts the image of the majority. Put another way - the law makes Muslims look bad. The question is whether the Muslim majority cares enough about its minorities to repeal the law. And let us also be clear that Islam does not need this law to protect itself - that is ridiculous.

NASAH (USA) Nov 13, 2014 08:33am

Abolish it -- it is a cruel inhumane law -- made in the 'defense' of a very kind compassionate forgiving prophet -- who always insisted to be treated as a human being -- never to be worshiped.

Sal Nov 13, 2014 08:56am

What democratic authority does this person or anyone on CII have on legislature? Did we elect this farce of a council?

Us Pakistanis are such cowards, we have been stuffed to the brim with the fear of speaking against the norm of religious mainstream. We can't speak up to change such laws for fears of being labelled a non-muslim or "liberal" which only in Pakistan in 2014 can hold a negative connotation.

Kenneth Nov 13, 2014 08:57am

Would blasphemy increase in this country if there were no law against it? NO! Repeal now!

Asif Nov 13, 2014 09:04am

why cant they argue the fact this law was added by a dictator in 80's. All this law does so far is to embarrassed Muslims living in non Muslims countries.

Mufti Mahmood Nov 13, 2014 09:08am

I agree that those misusing the law should be given death penalty. In many blasphemy cases the Mullahs have misused the law directly or by influencing mobs to do harm to minorities especially christians. Why wouldn't all members of the Ulema Council hold protests until those mullahs and their accomplises are brought to justice?

Mustafa J. Nov 13, 2014 09:09am

Pakistan's Supreme Authority is its elected members in Federal and Provincial parliaments and they are the only people who should decide whether to retain or abolish Blasphemy Law, based on sound judgment without any influence from any Maulana, Mullah, Mufti etc. etc.

Azhar Nov 13, 2014 09:16am

Mr. Ashrafi is a good person. But I respectfully disagree with him. It is now time to repeal the controversial law that has taken the lives of so many innocent people. A society based on mutual respect, a constructive criticism and freedom of speech can thrive both morally and materially.

It is time to repel the law for the greater good of humanity.

escape from darkage Nov 13, 2014 09:29am

and how many people in Pakistan does he represent ?

Kittu Nov 13, 2014 09:38am

This is the face of Pakistan. In a true democracy, if people want it, then just repeal that in the parliament. If you cannot the all have to lower their head in shame.

Gaurav Arya Nov 13, 2014 09:42am

While I dont agree that a country should have something as archaic as a blasphemy law, I agree with Ashrafi that people seeking to misuse the law must be severely punished.

Taimur Nov 13, 2014 09:43am

"Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi has suggested that instead those misusing the law should be given the punishment prescribed for its violators" - then first of all his brother should be punished who have been inciting people against a minority sect.

Kamal Pasha Nov 13, 2014 09:56am

If Ulemas don't agree for repeal of blasphemy laws, they should be replaced with moderate Ulemas. The blasphemy laws are used for personal revenge. We have to protect minorities at every cost. That is what Islam teaches us.

weq Nov 13, 2014 10:10am

It is indeed a violation of Law to take a human life in ones own hands, those accused of Blasphemy should be taken to court of Law, Islamic Law requires witnesses for crimes and be dealt accordingly. BUT the People of Pakistan should set preferences, Insulting the Prophet (PBUH) is a bigger crime or punishment of insult-ant? not only Islam prescribes severe punishment for blasphemers but most of the major religions have prescribed death as punishment for blasphemy. It is stated in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is the authority for both the Jews and Christians:

“And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: [Book of Leviticus 24:16]”

Atleast I what I have seen is people here are annoyed and angry over the killings but almost none condemn the act of Blasphemy, and then this Nation goes so far to accuse the Govt. for their miseries in life. Think Straight.

SQ Nov 13, 2014 10:12am

Blasphemy law is a draconian law that needs to go. Period. It's high time we stop the mullahs from wreaking havoc in this country in the name of religion.

Dystopia Nov 13, 2014 10:14am

Wow, one stupid law wasn't enough so now he suggests another. No to mullah laws.

mosawwir Nov 13, 2014 10:16am

Provided the prevailing situation in the country, how is it possible to charge and bring to justice to those who misuse this law? Can anyone dare to speak against misuser of this law where judges are besieged in their offices by lawyers and angry mob for giving verdict against the real culprit (murderers) in such cases? An explicit example of of Qadri, who killed Suleman Taseer (former Punjab governor).

There are several such explicit cases where hundred of innocent people have become victim of this blasphemy law. Were the killers justified in their killing in these cases? Didn't they misused the law and committed heinous and dastardly crimes? Is anyone of those ever given due punishment? Did anyone dare to bring them to justice or even speak against them openly? Those who tried to do so are threatened and even silenced.

There are several examples where lawyers have been killed for defending the blasphemy accused, and judged are attacked and threatened.

In such a situation, how can Ashrafi Sahib so confidently say that the misusers of this law can be meted out punishment?

Clearly, this law needs immediate reform and overhaul or else, we would continue to see such horrific acts of violence in the name of religions.

Vap Nov 13, 2014 10:17am

Blasphemy law is a draconian law no matter what this guy has to say. I would like to ask him what if the majority is non muslim and they enact such laws against Muslims will he still advocate such black law ? And ISIS flags are not the reaction of Hezbollah flags but shows the ideology that is establishing itself in the land of pure.

Ahmad Nov 13, 2014 10:17am

The organization Pakistan Ulema Council is not correctly named. It only has Deobandi ulemas and hence must be reported as Deobandi ulema council.

Ali Nov 13, 2014 10:24am

Wah jee wah....hypocrisy at its best....Maulana saheb....plz dont embarrass us, we are already too tired of world laughing at us.

Awam Nov 13, 2014 10:27am

Why it is so difficult to repeal a man-made law? Why do not we let blasphemy matters in the court of Almighty God to decide! This law has already done too much damage through its misuse.

weq Nov 13, 2014 10:27am

Please respect those who have knowledge of Islam, nobody is perfect, those of you who speak of his Alcohol story need to look in your own self, sure you will be disgusted.

Farrukh Nov 13, 2014 10:28am

is he really comparing hizbullah, the guys who stood upto tyrants who have hurt Palestinians with a blood thirsty cult like IS? Open your eyes Maulana, please dont compare apples with oranges.

RCS Nov 13, 2014 10:35am

In Pakistan you must make death penalty as minimum punishment for every crime committed. This way very soon people will be able to settle their grievances and they will also feel that justice has been done.

Chi Ben Nov 13, 2014 10:41am

Section 295C shall be repealed. In this age and time when the world is a global village, Pakistanis inhabiting it across , east-west, north-south, why shall we stick to medieval practices. Pakistan shall get out of - My way or the highway mindset and blindly following Arabian exported faith that is dictatorial- conclusive, exclusive and separative thinking.

Bonkers Nov 13, 2014 10:42am

@Mullah Ansar I don't care about the image. This is a one sided law to punish people simply out of spite. If I disagree with your beliefs and find (paid) witness to testify against you..... YOU could face the death penalty.

Bonkers Nov 13, 2014 10:47am

@UFO this is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Why everything has to end on a death sentence? Why can't Pakistani be civil about these issues. Repeal it and no will die due to this law!!

Chi Ben Nov 13, 2014 10:50am

@UFO , Mr. UFO-Unidentified foreign object, Time has changed. Islam has to evolve and move with time. We have become a nation of hypocrites. Open any TV channel and instead of disseminating news, sharing knowledge the anchors use the words -Allah talah more than any other words in whole program. Religion is supposed to be one's personal relations with Providence, a private relations and not an object of display. Too much blabbering is what has become the norm in our conversation-holding rosay in hand while hearts are full of hate.

Yakoob Nov 13, 2014 10:55am

Our Beloved Prophet was treated with disrespect by many in his life & he 'Forgave everyone'. Best example after 'Fateh Mecca' he Very Graciously Forgave every one (who deserved to be Put To Death). Blasphemy law is Un-islamic & must be Repealed immediately.

asim Nov 13, 2014 11:02am

Blasphemy law is misused. It should be repealed.

Pakistani Muslim Nov 13, 2014 11:09am

This architect of Blasphemy law was late General Zia ul Haq who wanted to attract religious parties for Jihad in Afghanistan. It is simply a man made law without any provision in Quraan and Sunnah. Today every one in Pakistan is so frightened that he/she can,t even talk about it because of life threat from extremists. A large number of Pakistanis have fell prey to this law and a Governor of Punjab was also murdered on the pretext of Blasphemy. No one can dare touch the murderers who killed people on the pretext of Blasphemy. It is only the Government and religious scholars to sit and examine the law and may do away with it because it is against the spirit of Islam which is the religion of peace and love and negates violence and extremism.

mosawwir Nov 13, 2014 11:13am

@UFO How would you discourage people for not taking law into their hands and let the accusers be tried in court? Here people feel proud of killing in the name of religion. Mr Qadri, Killer of former governer, was garlanded and welcomed with flowers by lawyers when he was brought to court. The lawyers were acting as if he has done something marvelous for the country and have conquered a front for the country.

Unless this law is not repealed and culprits are not executed, how can we prevent lynching in our country?

white noise Nov 13, 2014 11:14am

You mullahs are the worst thing that has ever happened to Pakistan... sharam ati hay tum logon kay chehray dekh kay. if you go the guts, say Qadri is a murderer and deserve to be hanged, say it Allama sahib. and I will salute you, but you wont. cause you are all feathers of the same bird !!!

Karan Nov 13, 2014 11:20am

@weq So if its said in the Bible or the Quran, then its true

Abdul Manan Nov 13, 2014 11:21am

Wise words of an Aalim. They want to protect the people. May Allah keep Ashrafii save and grant him Jannat-ul-Firdos over his stance. People talking about repeal of blasphemy Law should consider Fatawaz by Imam Ibn-e-Taimiyah.

Irfan Nov 13, 2014 11:40am

Get rid of it! It is about time. @Fomi and @Musafir: Spot on! Fully agree with you.

Skywatcher Nov 13, 2014 11:43am

What style of thinking this nation has got!!!! every law here is being grossly miss used so repeal them all.... stupids!!!!

hellboy Nov 13, 2014 11:49am

A religion so weak that people come thousands to kill some one to defend it..dangerous mental twisting

SN Nov 13, 2014 11:51am

Yes amazing solution Kill everyone! First we need to tell them the sanctity of a living being, killing everyone is just not the solution!

sameer Nov 13, 2014 12:10pm

@Musafir Because Muslims are Mosssst Intolerant People in the Universe.

rohit950723 Nov 13, 2014 12:13pm

@Aamir .. if u are pakistani then huge respect from my side for showing courage for right things..

Vaikom James Nov 13, 2014 12:16pm

It seems that Blasphemy law is applicable only for Islam and not to other regions. why so.

Assassin Nov 13, 2014 12:34pm

@weq Because no one did the act of blasphemy !!!!! Only reason minorities are killed based on such law is to due to personal enmity...

Besides I we all know the example set by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) regarding the lady throwing trash upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but our Prophet forgive that lady and went to visit her when she was sick....

So here we are pondering over blasphemy law is to be removed or not and killing innocent people for personal issues..

Please look and think before you support some statement !!!!!

LiveAndLetlive Nov 13, 2014 01:04pm

@Venu Ruining the Image of the nation as being intolerant of other religions. This Law is just playing wrong. What I would call a fantasy law.

Akhtar Nov 13, 2014 01:05pm

An uneducated and illiterate society will always be manipulated by others easily. In Pakistan there is simply too much influence of uneducated preachers who spit out hate. The government should enact laws to stop this.

Rashmi Nov 13, 2014 01:08pm

Is he the same guy who appeared drunk on news channel ?

Musafir Nov 13, 2014 01:23pm

@weq:: You correctly quoted the Old Testament of the Bible from Leviticus 24: 16 “And he that blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.” But you are neither a Jewish nor a Christian scholar as I can easily say. So stop quoting things from out of context and trying to look intelligent because you are neither that nor do you have the understanding to interpret the Bible correctly. Did you know that the meaning of Christian is a follower or disciple of Christ and Jesus Christ said many things recorded in the New Testament which is also part of the Bible that is totally opposite of what you quoted. In one place Christ says, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” John 8:7 and “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” Luke 6:29. Please try and refrain from misstating religion if you don’t know much about it. And you Mr. weq do not know much about either Christianity or Judaism. Because if you knew then there would be whole lot of stoning going on by Christians and Jews but I don’t think that is the case. Or is it, Sir? Thank you.

Khalid S Nov 13, 2014 01:32pm

Why can't holds a poll, whether Blasphemy Law should be repealed or not. Yes or No. And see what the outcome is.

atif Nov 13, 2014 01:51pm

@weq dear, i m a sinner but i dont claim to be an allama. he claims to be an allama and thats y he is more responsible for his deeds

UZAIR Nov 13, 2014 01:56pm

@asim In pakistan all law are misusing by powerful people & politicians. so why not repealed every law????

L.Ahmad Nov 13, 2014 01:57pm

Mullah Ashrafi people are not that naïve. Seminary graduated mullahs are behind every incident of violence & hatred. Blasphemy laws give mullahs protection against inciting violence & killing innocent people. Such inhumane laws have no room in any society.

deva Nov 13, 2014 01:58pm

best solution - abandon the law. allow people to debate, question and then reform if needed. now in current information age u can not hide

Parvez Nov 13, 2014 02:13pm

The solution to punish those who misuse the law a workable and pragmatic solution.

deva Nov 13, 2014 02:20pm

religious leaders should not be given coverage if they are asking to restrict freedom. They themself never met god and claiming if u follow u will be meeting god. Faith should be extremely personal and not required to be demonstrated on road

Justwsf Nov 13, 2014 02:36pm

no justice no peace... simple

Mian Shahid Mehmood Nov 13, 2014 02:50pm

Misuse of law and those who abet the misuse of such law, be made punishable with the same degree prescribed for the offense of blasphemy. Abolition of the law would serve no purpose, I agree with Moulana Ashrafi.

Ali Nov 13, 2014 04:45pm

IS that kills muslims and non-muslims alike without regret is the same as Hezbollah according to Ashrafi. Israeli leaders are the only other ones that make that comparison!

Abu Umair Nov 14, 2014 06:18am

These hate filled drunken mullahs should be taken to task. They are the cause of Pakistan's current miseries. Rather than uniting the nation, they have been dividing the nations. There should not be any room for these prejudiced laws. Allah the almighty can punish the people Himself. There is no example of such laws or traditions at the time if Prophet Muhammed s.a.w .

Mustafa J. Nov 14, 2014 09:23am

@Kamal Pasha : Why you have to go to Ulema to repeal Blasphemy Law? The Law makers and the Law Revokers are the elected members pf Parliament in Islamabad. They can repeal the law either by a simple majority or 2/3 majority. If any Ulema is a member of Parliament, he is free to vote either way. Being an Aalim, or Maulana or Mullah is not the criteria in law making process. All elected members of parliament have equal say in law making or law revoking process.