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The Piling Up Cases Of “Technological Blasphemy”


ISLAMABAD: The alarmingly grim cases of alleged blasphemous texting are not a new custom in Pakistan.


Mobile phone blasphemous sms cases
Mobile phone blasphemous sms cases

Tracing the history of these unusual cases, sporadic episodes of technological blasphemy officially registered in May 2006; a Christian Qamar David was accused of sending blasphemous text messages to several Muslim clerics in Karachi. He was convicted in February 2010.

The Saddar police registered FIR bearing No. 127/06 Qamar David in a blasphemy case 24th of May. David was arrested same day after a local travel agent named Khursheed Ahmed complained that David had sent blasphemous text messages to several people through his mobile phone. The case was registered under section 295/AC of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Qamar David, who was serving a life sentence in two blasphemy cases, and died on 15th of March, 2011 in Central Jail. Jail officials said he died of a heart attack, but his lawyer said he had been in good health. Later on, his autopsy report was not made public.

Another instance was analogued in January 2009 Hector Aleem and Basharat Khokhar were accused of allegedly sending text messages that were aggrieved Muslims and hurt their religious sentiments. However, they were acquitted of blasphemy charges on 31st of May, 2011.

Yet another sixteen-year-old Christian boy, Ryan Stanton was charged with sending blasphemous text messages on 10th October, 2012. He eventually fled the country for refugee status in Sri Lanka. Police maintained that the boy was allegedly accused by the residents of his neighbourhood that he had sent text messages containing blasphemous content to the staffers and officers of the SSGC; his mother Rubina Bryan worked as superintendent at the SSGC. As the SMS reportedly circulated among the residents of the colony comprising workers and officers, they ultimately attacked the residential quarter of Ryan Stanten. The family has to run away to save their lives otherwise the situation might have got worse.

In a separate incident of technological blasphemy Pastor Zafar Bhatti was accused of the same crime on 11th of November, 2012. According to the FIR registered on the complaint of Ibrar Ahmed, at Police Station New Town Rawalpindi on 11th of November, 2012 under section 295-C of PPC and section 25-C of Telegraph Act, the accused had sent blasphemous SMS and made derogatory calls to the plaintiff.

Not with standing at least two Muslims, Abdul Sattar and Irfan Rafique have also been charged for sending text messages.

In recent incidents of technological blasphemy a Christian man, Sajjad Masih was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court of Toba Tek Singh and a Christian couple Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife Shagufta Kausar have been booked by the police under alleged blasphemy charges of sending blasphemous SMS to Muslim clerics. However, radicals in the area have staged a sit-in on Mankanwala Crossing Gojra demanding death for the couple and Sajjad Masih who is serving a life sentence.