Justice for Junaid Hafeez

Justice for Junaid Hafeez

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Human Rights Defense International Bangali market started this petition to Prime Minister of Pakistan

JUSTICE FOR JUNAID HAFEEZ

On 21st December, 2019 Multan-based academic Junaid Hafeez became the latest to be given the death sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan. The 33-year-old former lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University had been arrested in 2013 over alleged “blasphemous” comments on Facebook, after accusations from an Islamist group that had explicitly taken issues with Hafeez’s “liberal views.” After six years of solitary confinement, and a problematic trial, Hafeez has been sent to the gallows by a sessions court for “outraging religious sentiments.”

Pakistan is one of 13 countries where blasphemy is punishable by death. The constitution’s Islam-specific clauses, notably Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, maintain that the capital punishment is solely for sacrilege against the majority’s religion in the Muslim-dominated country.

The case of Junaid Hafeez and the lynching of Mashal Khan in 2017 underlines that even Muslims aren’t safe from the Islam-specific blasphemy law, for they can just as easily be deemed “not Muslim enough.” Given how former Punjab Governor of Pakistan Salmaan Taseer was killed for his criticism of the blasphemy law– the few voices mustering some form of criticism regarding the law, and the farcical trials, are courageous and commendable.

Critique of religion – any religion – is neither a call for violence nor a denial of rights for its adherents, which makes the very idea of blasphemy completely antagonistic to basic human rights. The “evidence” in such cases is intangible sentiments, making the “crime” victimless.

The battle against the blasphemy law cannot be won until the democratic principle of basic human rights supersedes religious dogma. It is not its victims but the blasphemy law itself that needs to go. It is not the “blasphemer” but the blasphemy law that needs to be given the death sentence.

HRDI, being part of International campaign to demand justice for Prof. Junaid Hafeez is organising an event “Remembering Prof. Junaid Hafeez” at Delhi High Court on 7th January 2019. You are requested to support the release of Prof. Junaid Hafeez and the International Campaign against Blasphemy laws.

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