Blasphemy Vigilantism is a Dangerous Pakistani Epidemic Now

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Pakistan is known around the world as no country for minorities and having the worst blasphemy laws. However, in recent times, there has been a remarkable rise in mob violence and vigilantism.

Just a few months ago, a woman wearing a dress with Arabic calligraphy escaped being lynched by a mob that accused her of blasphemy. Unfortunately, a 40-year-old tourist to Swat was not as lucky. He was lynched by a mob and burnt alive on accusations of having desecrated pages of the Quran.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in a statement called upon the federal government to take strict action otherwise “the state has, knowingly or otherwise, surrendered its writ in matters of faith-based mob violence.” As HRCP noted, “such incidents are no longer merely a question of problematic laws that are easily weaponized on grounds of blasphemy. Instead, they are a direct result of decades of pandering to, and deliberately cultivating, far-right religious groups and militancy. The state has been directly complicit in this: it has accorded impunity to perpetrators of faith-based violence and appeared indifferent to such incidents where decisive action was necessary.”

HRCP noted with great concern “that a proposal to the National Assembly for establishing a house committee to probe vigilantism was not taken further on the floor of the house. This must be reintroduced, and a strong committee set up immediately for this purpose. Nothing less than the full resolve of the Parliament—across all political parties and ideologies—to combat radicalization, hate speech and faith-based violence is acceptable at this stage.”

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Author: Nasir Saeed