Where disagreements are treated with bullets
March 2, 2011 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Barely two months since the assassination of Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab, another of Pakistan's politicians noted for their stance on the blasphemy laws has also been gunned down. Shahbaz Bhatti, himself a Catholic, was the Federal Minister for Minorities. Now that two of the original three individuals involved in the calls to amend the blasphemy laws are dead, fears arise for the safety of Sherry Rehman, the female MP who went so far as to table a motion specifically requesting they be amended. That motion was ruled out by Pakistani President Yousuf Gilani. More on the blasphemy laws Previously
posted by dougrayrankin (17 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ugh. Stay safe Ms. Rehman.

posted by kmz at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did I really forget to link to the actual story? Seems I did... Here
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2011

This undergirds the reason why I am against hate speech laws.
posted by Falconetti at 9:57 AM on March 2, 2011

This is terrible and absurd.

posted by voltairemodern at 10:03 AM on March 2, 2011

This undergirds the reason why I am against hate speech laws.
It might also interest you to know that when someone is brought up on charges of blasphemy, the court is not allowed to know what was actually said, as to repeat it would also be blasphemous. If it wasn't so deeply embedded in human tragedy, it might almost be funny...

Are there any women here today...?
posted by dougrayrankin at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2011

This undergirds the reason why I am against hate speech laws.

That's a slippery slope argument; blasphemy laws and hate speech laws are not the same thing. That's not to say that the ambiguity about what constitutes "hate speech" isn't very problematic and there aren't valid reasons to oppose hate speech laws, but these seem to me to be different issues.
posted by Hoopo at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is just one more bit of heartbreak. The only consolation I can take is that at least so far, no one seems to be lionizing the assassins, unlike in the case of Salman Taseer.
posted by bardophile at 10:40 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hoopo, you are right that blashphemy laws and hate speech laws are not coterminous, although my concern is not necessarily a slippery slope argument. I see blasphemy laws as a subset of hate speech laws (hateful speech against a religion or religion generally rather than hateful speech against some other classification of people), so I think the underlying issues are fundamentally similar: punishing or outlawing negative speech towards certain groups.

One difference I can see is that most hate speech laws seem to be designed to protect minority groups, some of whom may be very vulnerable. Blasphemy laws, however, are not necessarily used to protect minority religions, as in the Pakistani case here. This doesn't change my feelings on what the appropriate scope of free speech should be, but I can see this difference as a reasonable argument for separating the two topics.
posted by Falconetti at 10:44 AM on March 2, 2011

How does one fight such widespread violent atavistic neanderthal culturally and religiously engrained hate without becoming monstrous? The work of education and tolerance and nation and society building takes generations, how do we mitigate suffering in the meanwhile?

Humans fucking suck sometimes.
posted by lalochezia at 10:46 AM on March 2, 2011

In response to what's happening in Pakistan today, British journalist George Fulton who has lived in Pakistan for nine years and famously even "become a Pakistani", decides to leave the country.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Shahbaz Bhatti was a man full of eloquence and courage. This is a great loss for Pakistan, and an outrage that people have become so bigoted and hate-filled that such a heinous act can happen in the capital in broad daylight.

While Bardophile above is right that few have lionized the perpetrators, there is no consolation. Whatsoever.

To begin with, how can someone who is Christian blaspheme against a Muslim prophet? The argument used by clerics in Pakistan is that a Muslim would never insult Jesus, why do Westerners insult our prophet? Well, for one, to Christians, he is not a prophet but a mere historical figure, as Muhammad came after Jesus, whereas for Muslims, Jesus is indeed a prophet, and therefore for a Muslim to say something against any of the prophets before Muhammad would be considered blasphemous under the retrograde legal regime that calls itself 'shari'a'. But the same ought not to be true for non-Muslims.

However, the number of clerics in Pakistan to whom dispassionate logic appeals are few and most are too terrified to speak up.

This is so abominable, that words are not enough to capture how hideous the self-righteously faithful are--whether pacifist or militant. Without the former, the latter could not exist.
posted by Azaadistani at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2011

The argument used by clerics in Pakistan is that a Muslim would never insult Jesus, why do Westerners insult our prophet?
From a Christian perspective, wouldn't it be blasphemous to say that Jesus was a prophet but not the Messiah or the son of God? I think that the official Muslim position on Jesus is, in fact, blasphemous within Christianity.

I can't really wrap my head around blasphemy laws. Every religious or irreligious position is blasphemous to some other religion.
posted by craichead at 12:09 PM on March 2, 2011

Just to preempt any possible misunderstanding of the FPP, in Commonwealth English "to table" means to propose for discussion, while here in the US "to table" means to put away for discussion later.
posted by dhens at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2011

A religion of peace.

Except when it isn't.

Just like all the other religions.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was struck by how many comments on the George Fulton story were really sweet. So many good people, what a shame for them to have extremists destroying their country.
posted by Flitcraft at 7:32 PM on March 2, 2011

A sketch of the assassin has been released. I note with considerable dismay that the very first comment on the story, with fifteen recommends reads:
Looks like an American funded by RAW/MOSSAD???????
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:47 AM on March 3, 2011

An Army Without a Country
posted by homunculus at 7:09 PM on March 4, 2011

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