Stop the Abuse and Weaponization of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

Stop the Abuse and Weaponization of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

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Why this petition matters

Started by arafat mazhar

Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Ahsan Iqbal—these are just three of the more notable names in a long list of people who have been accused of blasphemy by political opponents and online trolls in Pakistan. There has been an unprecedented escalation in the politicization and weaponization of blasphemy in Pakistan. It has been used to settle personal and political scores, it has been leveraged for election campaigns, and used by extremist organizations to incite hatred and violence against religious minorities. The weaponization of blasphemy against public figures and masses alike, the political tension between parties and state institutions, and the rise of fake audio and video have created a climate of fear and mistrust in which blasphemy accusations can lead to fatal consequences.

The blasphemy laws, which were meant to protect religious sentiments, have instead resulted in an alarming increase in baseless accusations and extrajudicial violence. Deliberate misrepresentations of the Islamic legal tradition have been used to legitimize the dominant idea in Pakistan that ‘tauheen ki aik saza; sir tun se juda, sir tun se juda' - completely contrary to the actual texts of Islamic jurisprudential authorities (read about the fatwas that can change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws here). The TLP and Tehreek e Khatam e Nabuwwat are utilizing this blasphemy discourse for political purposes and inciting violence against minority communities.

As the situation escalates, we demand that the state of Pakistan take the following steps before it’s too late:

Firstly, implement the Federal Shariat Court judgment of 1990 and incorporate 'malicious intent' in 295-C.

Secondly, recognize 295-C as a pardonable offense for Muslim citizens, which has precedent across Muslim countries and in Islamic Law (in the Hanafi tradition).

Thirdly, recognize blasphemy as punishable only when it is a public and habitual offense, which has precedent in Islamic law (in the Hanafi tradition).  

Fourthly, do not apply 295-C to non-Muslim citizens. As per Hanafi jurisprudence, the punishment for blasphemy is premised upon apostasy rulings, which cannot be applied to non-Muslims. Otherwise, historically the punishment for blasphemy is premised on conquest treatise which treat non-Muslims as subjugated dhimmis and so cannot be applied to equal citizens in a democratic state such as Pakistan. 295-A can be used for non-Muslim citizens.

Fifthly, criminalize frivolous blasphemy accusations online and offline, especially with the rise of fake news and synthetic media, such as deepfakes and generative AI.

Sixthly, the ECP should ensure that blasphemy is not used as a tool in election campaigns including but not limited to in posters and speeches.

To read more about the Islamic legal basis for these demands, visit this report:

1,603 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!