Tag Archive: Sherry Rehman

Who gave them license to kill?

Historical evidence suggests that the societies which lag behind in development, due mainly to wide-spread ignorance, are more susceptible to be attracted to self-appointed agents of God. These agents dictate illiterate minds and create an atmosphere of cheap passions in order to thrive on it. The same thing is happening these days on the issue of blasphemy. The offense of blasphemy is punishable under the law but the justice requires that before condemning anybody to the sentence of death, the requirement of due process of law should be fulfilled. However, those who have their own axe to grind do not let the law take its course. and announce the conviction and the punishment making it impossible for the courts to discharge their function. They glorify the criminal acts in the name of the faith in the same way the extremists try to justify their acts of mass murder of the hapless civilians.

Moreover, no one other than a certified and qualified mufti can interpret religion under the teachings of Islam and issue religious decree but it seems that in the highly polarized society of Pakistan, every Tom, Dick and Harry has assumed the role of a mufti and has started inciting murder.  It sounds as if these self-appointed muftis have acquired the license to kill anyone by declaring people infidel. According to news outlets, several clerics in Pakistan have issued fatwas against former Pakistani minister Sherry Rehman and declared her an infidel for calling for changes in the blasphemy law, prompting civil society activists to register a complaint with police.

Media reports said the imam of Sultan Masjid, one of Karachi’s biggest mosques, declared Rehman a ‘kaafir‘ [infidel] and ‘wajib-ul-qatl‘ [must be killed] while delivering a sermon after the Friday prayers on January 7, 2011. The mosque has close ties to the Saudi Arabian government and Wahhabis. Islamic fanatics who organized a massive rally in Karachi on January 11 also issued a pamphlet that named Sherry Rehman as a person who “has invoked the religious honor of Pakistan’s Muslims” for calling for changes in the blasphemy law. The threats came days after a police guard gunned down Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer for criticising the blasphemy law.

Following this fatwa, civil society activists in Pakistan filed a complaint against the imam of Sultan Masjid at the Darakhsan police station in Karachi. The complaint was registered on behalf of Sherry Rehman, a senior leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, Salmaan Taseer’s son Shaan Taseer and journalist Ali Chishti. In the complaint, the civil society activists alleged that the imam of Sultan Masjid had also lauded Mumtaz Qadri, the policeman who assassinated Salmaan Taseer. Chishti told the media that civil society groups feared for Sherry’s life following the murder of the Punjab Governor. The civil society activists said they were proud to be Muslims but rejected murdering people in the name of Islam.

Some political analysts are comparing today’s Pakistan with Taliban ruled Afghanistan. As expected, the courageous Sherry Rehamn has told media that she wont leave the country following any such threat. She wants any rewritten version to shift the burden of proof from the accused, who she says frequently face prosecution witnesses who have “tailored their evidence on prejudice or malice.”nInstead, all blasphemy charges should automatically be tried by the high courts to prevent possible miscarriages of justice. The new law should include penalties for false accusations. The blasphemy law has become a political card radicals play to manipulate public opinion in a devout and “largely pacifist country.”

Please also read:

“Issuing fatwas is a mufti’s job and I am not one.”

In Realm of Religion, Women Lose Out

The government of Punjab province of Pakistan has introduced certain revolutionary changes in marriage laws. Some of these changes are welcome developments, like medical examination before nikah to prevent future complications like birth of handicapped children due to blood group incompatibility. But some changes have been severely criticized which enhance the role (read: consent] of parents which to the critics mean encouraging forced marriages.

Express Tribune has reported that the Punjab Government made eight amendments to the Nikahnama Law on Thursday. A circular was issued by the Local Government and Community Development Department and sent to all DCOs in Punjab, describing the Punjab specific amendments. The new amendments make it necessary for both the bride and bridegroom to undergo a blood test, which is made compulsory to prevent disabled and handicapped births.

The amendments also make it mandatory for parents/guardians of both bride and bridegroom to sign the Nikahnama document as witnesses. Mention of the bride and bridegroom’s date-of-birth has also been declared binding. The amendments in the circular are as follows:

  1. Additional columns and space shall be provided for dowry articles in the Nikahnama
  2. In addition to the names of fathers of both the bride and bridegroom, the names of mothers of both the bride and bridegroom shall be recorded with their CNIC numbers and dates of births.
  3. Father and mother of the bride and bridegroom shall sign in the witness to the marriage column.
  4. Marks of identification of both the bride and bridegroom shall be incorporated in the Nikahnama.
  5. Medical check up and report of the bride and bridegroom shall be mandatory to obviate any problem in their matrimonial life and subsequently any chance of having abnormal children. Blood groups of the bride and the bridegroom shall be entered in the marriage certificate.
  6. The name of the bride usually changes after the marriage is solemnized which then appears in future documents of the new family. Such a projected change shall be recorded in the certificate.
  7. Instead of mentioning only the age of the bride and bridegroom, their exact dates of birth shall be recorded as in their school certificates/CNIC/Passports.
  8. The latest passport size photos of the bride and bridegroom shall be pasted on the certificate.

The handout says the amendments are effective as of today (Thursday) and no nikah document will be registered without fulfilling these requirements. According to a report, PPP MNA Sherry Rehman criticized the amendments and said that they would strengthen the organizers of forced marriages.