The paradise-seekers have a booming business these days due to an alarming rise in the reported incidents of blasphemy. Thanks to inherent flaws in this man-made law, they will have a free hand to either get someone executed on the “solid evidence” i.e. public pressure or do the holy deed themselves. There was an incident of a doctor who threw away the visiting card of a medical rep and another incident of a prayer leader who had removed the poster of a religious event from his private property. These are otherwise common incidents which go unnoticed but in these two cases, someone had a personal agenda. Both accused were charged for blasphemy and one of them is convicted, along with his son, for 40 years imprisonment. Lo and behold, there is yet another incident. Two Christian women were beaten and publically humiliated by an angry mob over apparently frivolous blasphemy allegations and they and their family are now in hiding for fear of being killed, Express Tribune has reported. None of their relatives is ready to let them stay at their places. They fear the wrath of the extremists, particularly after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer.
The family and a non-governmental organization that is helping them asked that their identities not be revealed, lest it put them in further danger. The names mentioned here are fictitious. According to the family, the allegations stem from a dispute between Amina, a Muslim, and her sister-in-law Zahira, a Christian, in an East Lahore locality. The two got into an argument on Tuesday night and though it appeared to have been settled, on Wednesday morning, after her husband Zahid had gone to work, Amina walked out onto the street and started shouting that Zahira had abused the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
A short while later, a group of men led by Muhammad Sameer, a member of a religious organization keen on raising its sectarian profile, forced their way into the house and started slapping Zahira, said another of her brothers, Sohail. “Other men and women from the neighborhood started gathering at the house too and they beat up my sister and mother. They were the only people in the house,” he said.
“We tried our best to get her to confess her crime,” Sameer told the media. As a member of the religious organization, he said he could not tolerate any derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Sameer added that he was very proud of his wife’s performance during the mob beating. “She beat Zahira more than anyone else. Her hand is so swollen that she hasn’t been able to make rotis since the day of the incident. I’ve been getting my meals from a restaurant,” he said.
Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of Salmaan Taseer, is a member of the same group as Sameer. The group also runs a twenty-four hour cable TV channel. Khadim Hazoor, Sameer’s son-in-law and another participant in the beating, said that the women’s faces were blackened and they were made to wear necklaces of shoes and paraded around the locality on donkeys to humiliate them. He said the women denied blaspheming and repeatedly touched their feet seeking mercy. He said the people of the locality would not allow Zahid or his family to return to their house, which he lives next door to. He claimed that the fight between Zahira and Amina the night before the incident revolved around the upbringing of Zahid and Amina’s 18-month-old daughter. Amina had wanted to raise her daughter as a Muslim, but Zahira wanted her niece to be raised as a Christian, he said.
Hazoor accused Zahid of “cheating Islam” by pretending to convert from Christianity to Islam so he could marry the Muslim girl. “We will not let them live in this house. He has not only cheated Amina but also Islam,” he said.
Zameer Khan, an NGO worker, helped the family flee the locality after they were attacked. “Apparently there was no blasphemy, just an argument between two women,” he said.
He said after hearing of the incident, he had reached the scene to find the women being attacked. He said he had asked the mob if anyone had heard Zahira utter any blasphemous remarks, to which they all replied in the negative. He said he persuaded them to let the women go while he investigated the matter. He then helped relocate the family temporarily. He said he had also convinced the mob not to involve the police.
These self-appointed guardians of faith did not realize that by torturing a hapless women in the name of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), they have in fact insulted the Prophet themselves. If anyone has to be charged under the blasphemy law it is the people like these religious zealots.