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Wednesday, 12 January 2011
rally in Karachi this week AGAINST reform of blasphemy law
I have posted before on this topic, and it is no secret that I am strongly against there being any law against blasphemy, anywhere. The UK had such a law until 2008, shamefully, blasphemy there only being illegal against the Christian faith, and a number of countries still do, notably Pakistan (which retains the death penalty for blasphemy) and Saudi Arabia. I am not a Catholic, but I do admire the present Pope for speaking out against Pakistan's blasphemy law in his annual address. Of course, we know the context. The governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, publicly wanted reform of the law, and defended a Christian, who was, worse still, a woman, so he was murdered by one of his own bodyguards. It gets worse. His killer was showered with rose petals in the courtroom. I don't think I can even comment on this. What could be said? It's, er, a Bad Thing. A VERY BAD THING. How can these laws be got rid of? I promise you there are moves away from this kind of obscurantism, although it doesn't always look like it. Twenty-one Coptic Christians were killed in their church in Egypt recently, and last week, when the churches were full again for the Coptic Christmas, thousands of Muslims turned out to protect the Christians and their church, and to show that not all Muslims think being a good Muslim means burning Christians. There is a Jewish cemetery here in Strasbourg, and it has been desecrated more than once in my time here. But most Muslims don't do these things, nor do they approve of them. So governments of states, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, should know that their people can be good Muslims, if that is what they believe, without the law stifling freedom of expression. Judges in Pakistan should be able to pronounce verdicts without fear of being murdered. And they can't. There is a huge Pakistani-heritage community in the UK and in other countries, and we do not hear from them about this medieval barbarism. What are they teaching their children in Bradford and Leicester and Reading? What are they preaching in the mosques?