Pakistan is a country that one thought was on the way to becoming a modern state but it seems to be regressing into a medieval religious one. One of the symptoms is the incorporation into its judicial code of blasphemy laws. This has emboldened Muslim extremists to take the law into their own hands to defend the honor of their god by killing those accused of blasphemy, without even waiting for these laws to be used against offenders.
Jonathan Turley describes the latest in a string of mobs taking the law into their own hands.
The violence later on Sunday in the town of Gujranwala, began when a Muslim man accused an Ahmadi man of posting “objectionable material.” The picture showed the Kaaba – the cube-shaped structure in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, but also showed a naked woman. That was enough for Muslims to not only file a blasphemy charge with the police but a mob to attack and burn down the homes of innocent Ahmadis. They ended up killing the girls, the grandmother, and causing another woman to miscarry her baby. Yet, such violence is viewed by these extremists to be the act of truly faithful Muslims and pleasing to God. It is such a disconnect with any form of recognizable morality that makes this crime so hard to even fathom.
I do not just blame the mob, however. I blame Pakistan for its codification of the prejudice against this sect and treating them as heretics. The country’s incorporation of religious tenets into the criminal code legitimates these acts of hatred. It is also another example of how there is no common ground over blasphemy.
I agree. There is no excuse for such acts and they deserve to be punished severely for their crime.
Punishing people for blasphemy is just the most extreme manifestation of the idea that religious views have to be treated with respect and not mocked. It is a sign of the deep insecurity that religious people have about their beliefs, that they need the state to shield them from the possibility of facing up to their own doubts.