An emotionally charged ‘Seminar for protection of Prophet’s dignity’ was held last Saturday at Lahore Press Club. Ten ulemas expressed their reservation against a draft bill that aims to add the word “intention” to the law.
If approved by the Law Ministry, the new legislation would be reviewed by a committee before going to parliament. According to seminar speakers, 14 people accused of blasphemy have been hanged so far, whilst 19 more are serving life imprisonment.
The speakers included retired Justice Mian Nazir Akhtar, counsel to Mumtaz Qadri, who is jailed for killing Punjab governor Salman Taseer because he referred to the country’s blasphemy law as “black law” in a television show.
Akhtar termed the killer of Salman Taseer ‘immortal’. He also said that the new bill rejects all saying by the Prophet and anyone who insults Prophet Muhammad deserved to be ‘sent to hell’.
“When it comes to the sanctity of the prophet, the implementation of all man-made laws becomes different. Those who insult him have no rights, including no right to live. There is no need for trial or hearings.”said Akhtar.
Human rights groups as well as Church leaders have repeatedly stated that 295C is used in extrajudicial killings and the burning of Christian settlements.
Other speakers also warned government leaders against tampering with the blasphemy law. Quoting Islamic references in favor of the death sentence, they threatened sit-ins, protest rallies and fatwas against supporters of the proposed bill.
“Youths will be sacrificed, ghazi (reference to Qadri) will be saved” and “Allah o Akbar,” chanted the attendants of the meeting.