JUST EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
The International Movement for a Just World (JUST) strongly condemns the lynching and murder of a Pakistani Christian couple last week. Under the false pretext of committing ‘blasphemy’ for desecrating the Quran, for which there was no evidence, the couple was accused and brutally killed, all in one day. All of the evidence, on the other hand, suggests that this was principally an issue of exploited bonded labor attempting to escape their horrible plight. The couple’s virtual enslavement in the brick kiln industry and their efforts to secure a better livelihood aroused the fear and wrath of their ruthless boss, who decided to concoct a false accusation of blasphemous conduct on the couple’s part. The mobilization of religious passions was engineered by the exploitative boss and the powerful friends he relied upon, and the terrible atrocity then ensued.
The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan has been routinely abused to settle inter-personal disputes pertaining to land and other matters, and to disproportionately target religious minorities. While the law’s intention is merely to criminalize defamation and slander of the Prophet Muhammad, most of the time it is deployed as a weapon to entrench power, wealth, and the privileged position of various oppressive classes and individuals in the country. Indeed, all of the victims killed because of the accusation of blasphemy have been through vigilante action of some mob. The Pakistani Supreme Court has never permitted anyone to be put to death for the crime of blasphemy, since it has recognized that most cases were deeply flawed and the evidence was weak or nonexistent.
It is also important to note that many senior and well-respected religious leaders, in addition to all political parties, including the Islamic ones, have condemned the incident. The leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the leading Islamic political party in Pakistan, has personally visited the Christian victims’ families. This simply reflects popular opinion in Pakistan, which is fictitiously portrayed as extremist and barbaric — when in fact it is as outraged at what happened as others throughout the world. In addition, credit must also be given to the Pakistani government which has been very efficient in rounding up and arresting all the killers and suspects, and ensuring justice is served and the victims’ families are duly compensated. The government is also setting a noteworthy precedent of zero tolerance toward such mob violence in the name of religion.
Nonetheless, increasing Islamophobia in the West is making Muslims throughout the world more sensitive to attacks, real or imagined, against their faith. Western warmongers and their pundits have tried to portray venomous discourse on Islam and Muslims as expressions of ‘free speech.’ The intellectual deception being used as a weapon against the Muslim world involves confusing ‘blasphemy’ and critiques of religion with the type of bigotry and hatred that comes out of the Islamophobia industry in the West. The latter has become the ideological justification for Western wars, invasions, occupations, and massacres of Muslims and the oppressed. Hence, while the abuse of the Blasphemy Law in a country such as Pakistan must be condemned loudly, so should we denounce the hateful rhetoric against Islam, as well as Western foreign policies towards Muslim states and movements that resist Western hegemonic power. Ultimately, imperial and Zionist criminal behavior in the Muslim world is the single most important factor in aggravating the already troubled predicament that religious minorities face in several Muslim-majority countries.
The Executive Committee,
International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
12 November 2014.