Pakistan: Following the execution of Mumtaz Qadri yesterday, convicted for the 2011 murder of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, thousands of protesters took to the streets across Pakistan.
Scores of heavy security have been deployed in Rawalpindi where thousands are expected to mourn Mumtaz Qadri, who was hailed as an Islamist hero among his supporters.
Trained as an elite police commando, Qadri was assigned to Salman Taseer as his bodyguard. In January 2011, Qadri shot the politician at an Islamabad market. He was sentenced to death later that year.
Qadri was executed at 04:30 local time (23:30 GMT) at Adiala jail in Rawalpindi yesterday.
Salman Taseer was one of the most prominent liberal politicians in the country and a close associate of the then president Asif Ali Zardari.
Taseer was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws and supported liberal reforms. Qadri being a firm Islamist, thus, felt his religious duty to kill the minister.
Mostly peaceful rallies were staged by Qadri’s supporters in Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Highways were also blocked into Islamabad while demonstrators were seen chanting slogans and burning tyres.
Schools are shut and markets are closed in Islamabad where lawyers are observing a strike. The neighboring Rawalpindi, where the burial will take place, has been kept off-limits for commuters. There is heightened security in all major cities and towns including Karachi.
The funeral is expected to witness large crowds pouring in while religious groups like Jamaat-e-Islami are building tempo, terming the day of Qadri’s hanging as the “black day” and announcing daily protests until Friday.
Regarded as an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan, blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal scores by various religious groups. Target minorities also had to bear the brunt of such unfairness.
Washington, October 15, 2017: A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced three men of a minority religious group to death on charges of violating the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed were found guilty and convicted by the trial court Wednesday for insulting the prophet of Islam.
The men were tried under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, commonly referred to as the blasphemy law, which recommends either life imprisonment or the death penalty for anyone found guilty of deliberately insulting Islam.
The men were arrested in May 2014 in a remote village in Punjab province after residents filed a complaint with the police and accused the defendants of tearing down a religious poster.
Four men were arrested at the time. The fourth man, Khalil Ahmad, was shot dead by an angry man while in police custody just a few days after the incident.
Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, told VOA that the charges against the defendants and the court’s verdict were unfair.
“The convicted men were trying to take down a poster, which had anti-Ahmadi slogans and text that urged the community to socially boycott the already persecuted Ahmadi community,” Saleemuddin said.
“We will challenge the trial court’s decision in high court,” he added.
Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but Pakistan’s state does not recognize them as such and labels them heretics. There are more than a half-million Ahmadis living in Pakistan under the constant threat of persecution.
The Ahmadi community “is one of the most mistreated communities in the country. They have had been a target of blasphemous charges, sectarian violence and target killings,” said Mehdi Hasan, a prominent human rights activist in Pakistan.
The death sentence for the three individuals came just a few days after Muhammad Safdar, a prominent member of the ruling party and son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly denounced Ahmadi community members as a threat to Pakistan and urged the country’s institutions not to hire them in the military or the civil service.
Safdar’s remarks stirred a debate in the country on the issue of minorities and their rights.
Pakistan Minister of the Interior Ahsan Iqbal, without mentioning Safdar by name, denounced the anti-minority rhetoric coming from politicians.
“It is tragic to see hate speech against minorities in National Assembly. We believe in inclusive Pakistan. Pakistan respects all minorities,” Iqbal said in a tweet.
Abuse of law
“Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. We’ve seen several incidents where angry mobs killed those accused of committing blasphemy without giving them a right to face the trial,” human rights activist Hasan told VOA.
Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes. Due process is often ceremonial, the rights activists add, and decisions are often informed by the growing religious intolerance in the country.
Even if courts do drop charges against defendants, mobs and local residents attack them, and law enforcement authorities look the other way in most cases, the activists charge.
Social media posts
Nadeem James, a Christian, was sentenced to death last month in Punjab after the court established that he sent a blasphemous poem to a friend via WhatsApp, an instant message application.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a recent report said 15 people were arrested on charges of blasphemy in 2016, including 10 Muslims and five members of religious minorities.
In April 2017, Mashaal Khan, a journalism student, was accused of posting blasphemous content online and was beaten to death by fellow students at Abdul Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Pakistan’s government is being criticized for strictly enforcing the blasphemy laws.
In April 2017, the government used newspapers and mobile phone services to warn its citizens not to post or upload any blasphemous materials on social media.
The government has also reportedly encouraged people to report those who violate the blasphemy law. (VOA)
Islamabad, Pakistan October 11: The son-in-law of Pakistan’s recently ousted prime minister lambasted a minority that human rights groups consider one of the most persecuted in the country.
Mohammed Safdar said members of the Ahmadiyya sect are a “danger to this country, this nation, its constitution and its identity.”
Speaking in the national assembly, of which he is a member, Safdar demanded that Ahmadiyyas, along with the minority Bohra community, be barred from joining the armed forces of the country because their “false religions do not include the concept of jihad in the name of God.”
Safdar is the son-in-law of Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to resign from premiership in July after a court ruled against him in a corruption case. Sharif alleged that the ruling was a conspiracy to remove him from power by the establishment, a euphemism for the country’s powerful military.
A member of Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, Safdar is married to his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who has been widely reported in the news as his potential successor.
In his statement Tuesday, Safdar also demanded that the name of the physics department of the Quaid e Azam University in Islamabad be changed. The department is named after Dr. Abdul Salam, an Ahmadiyya who is also one of Pakistan’s two Nobel laureates. The other one is Malala Yousufzai, who became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her activism in favor of girls’ education.
“If the name of the department is not changed, I would protest here every day,” Safdar said.
His outburst in the assembly followed days of uproar by the opposition parties over a minor amendment in the election law that was deemed to be pro-Ahmadiyya. The government declared it a clerical error and reinstated the original draft of the law.
Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan face a peculiar dilemma. They insist they are Muslims, but the country’s constitution declares them non-Muslims. Officials say Ahmadiyyas are welcome to all the rights afforded to other minorities in the country as long as they do not call themselves followers of the Islamic faith. Ahmadiyyas, on the other hand, insist that doing so would go against their religious beliefs.(voa)
India’s economic and political strata in today’s world have reached a great level, but that is still not what the country is known for. The country is known for its diversity and religions because the term ‘religion’ in India is not just a system of belief and worship, but a way of life too. Since ancient times, it has been an integral part of its culture. For the citizens of this country, religion pervades through all the activities of life- from cooking chores to working and politics. The religion we follow plays an important role in our upbringing as well. Our conditioning is done based on the principles of our religion. India is a home to many religions- Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and others.
How old is the Indian civilization?
The Indian civilization is around 4000 years old, with the existing Indian religions growing in that period. The antiquity of the religions in India begins from the Harappan culture. It’s a secular country which respects all kinds of religion and culture, but during the ancient times, when the Human civilization was developing, there were three main religions native to India- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The predominant religion during this period was Hinduism, which is said have originated in the Northern India.
Religion wise Indian Population:
HINDUISM – about 82%
ISLAM – about 12%
CHRISTIANITY – about 2.5%
SIKHISM – about 2%
BUDDHISM – about 0.7%
JAINISM – about 0.5%
ZOROASTRIANISM – about 0.01%
JUDAISM – about 0.0005% (stated by adaniel.tripod)
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Its followers worship several deities. Unlike the other religions, this religion does not have one teacher. Its followers, the ‘Hindus’ believe in a supreme divine spirit called ‘Parama Brahma’. The concept of Parama Brahma states that Brahma is omnipresent.
Hindus believe in vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the whole world is a single family. They also believe in Sarva dharma Sama Bhava, which means all religions are equal. The practice follows the ideas of mercy, charity, compassion, benevolence, non-violence and mercy. It believes the concept of ‘Bhakti’ or devotion.
The sacred writings of Hinduism include the Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Upanishads.
According to tradition, the founder of Jainism was first Tirthankara Adinatha. However, the religion was widely propagated by the 24th Tirthankara, Mahavira. He was born in Vaishali, Bihar, who belonged to the clan ‘Licchavi’. Mahavira was moved by the sufferings of people, and therefore, left his home at the age of 30 to seek the truth. He supported the teachings of the previous Tirthankaras, and added his own beliefs to the teachings.
He believed in the ideology of leading a good life and not doing any wrong. He did not encourage the practice of needing the help of God for everything.
Doctrines of Jainism:
Buddhism is a religion which consists of different kinds of beliefs and practices based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddha’s name was Siddhartha. He was the son of the Shakya clan’s leader. It is believed that Siddhartha made three observations, which changed his life: a feeble old man; a person suffering from disease; and a dead body being taken for cremation. This propelled him in finding the true meaning of life. He left his home at an early age and attained ‘enlightenment’ in Bodhgaya.
He also prescribed the four noble truths and eight fold path.
Four noble truths are:
Dukkha (truth of suffering)
Samudāya (truth of the suffering’s origin)
Nirodha (the truth of suffering’s cessation.)
Magga (Direction to eight-fold path)
The eight fold path are- Right aims, Right beliefs, Right conduct, Right speech, Right effort, Right occupation, Right meditation and Right thinking.
-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at twitter @ImMeghaacharya.