Pakistani Muslims must honor prophet Muhammad – by protecting Christians
Pakistani governor Salaam Taseer was assassinated for speaking out against the blasphemy laws that condemned Aasia Bibi (a Christian woman) to death. But to truly honor the prophet Muhammad, Pakistanis must repeal these laws – to protect, not persecute, minorities.
Remember the 1992 courtroom film drama, "A Few Good Men"? The blasphemy laws of Pakistan (which condemn to death anyone who blasphemes the Prophet Muhammad) are to millions of its minority citizens what “code red” was to the marines in that iconic movie: a euphemism for the use of force to garner unconditional obedience from the masses. And the Jan. 3 assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab – Pakistan’s largest province – is a message to every moderate Muslim in the country to dare not challenge the vitriolic blasphemy laws, or they could be next.Skip to next paragraph
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Repealing blasphemy laws is an idea whose time has come. They laws are at the symbolic heart of the battle over hardline intolerance and hypocrisy. This larger religious and cultural struggle is now destabilizing Pakistan. Not only are these laws a disgrace to Pakistan, but they also provide more harm than protection to the honor of Prophet Muhammad. Just look at what the Quran says about him, “And We have sent thee not but as a mercy for all peoples (21:108)”.
Targeted for acting on principle
The plot of "A Few Good Men" revolves around the murder of a marine, William Santiago, who had trouble following unjust practices on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and therefore decided to be a whistleblower. Following the orders of Colonel Jessup (played by Jack Nicholson), two of Mr. Santiago’s fellow marines inflict severe extrajudicial punishment dubbed as “code red,” causing his death.
The opposition to Mr. Taseer was triggered by his fight for the release of Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian mother of five, imprisoned for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad. Her offense stemmed from fetching water for fellow farm workers in her village in 2009. The Muslim villagers refused to drink water carried by an “unclean” Christian. They later told authorities that Ms. Bibi had made insulting statements about the Quran and Prophet Muhammad. This resulted in a death sentence for Bibi on Nov. 8, 2010.
Not only did governor Taseer then make razor sharp public statements condemning the draconian blasphemy laws, but he also embarked on a mission to secure a presidential pardon for Bibi.
His noble mission faced severe resistance from all sides. Students from religious schools (madrassahs) burned effigies of him during street protests, the pseudo-Islamic intellectuals mocked his liberal lifestyle on talk shows, and the clergy publicly declared him worthy of death. On Dec. 31, a coalition of religious parties protested in all major Pakistani cities, demanding that blasphemy laws remain intact. For all practical purposes, a “code red” had been issued against the governor of Punjab.