20 February 2018
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  • » 02/01/2017, 13.15

    PAKISTAN

    Missing intellectuals and activists risk death penalty, charged with "blasphemy on social networks."

    Shafique Khokhar

    The only one to have reappeared is Professor Salman Haider; the other four bloggers are missing for nearly a month. The complaint lodged by Shuhada Foundation. Even if they are acquitted, "their lives will still be miserable."

     

    Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Pakistani Professor Salman Haider, who has just been reunited with family after being kidnapped, and the four other intellectual activists remain missing for nearly a month are being investigated for blasphemy.

    This is confirmed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which has registered the case on the basis of a complaint lodged by a member of Shuhada Foundation of Iqbal Town Station (Lahore).

    They are being charged based on comments that they have posted on social networks, in which they criticized religious extremism and radical attitude of some factions of the security forces and government. The acceptance of the complaint for blasphemy, which is a crime in Pakistan punishable by the death penalty, was the most feared by the families of the activists and their supporters, who complain of a growing repression of freedom of expression.

    Judge Abdul Ghafoor Kakar has consented to the official registration of the complaint, initiating the investigation under Section 295 C of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The judge also ruled that the famous professor of Rawalpindi will have the obligation to stay in the country throughout the duration of the event.

    Talking to AsiaNews, Hamza Arshad, a teacher and activist said, “A few days ago, the return of disappeared social media activist was hailed by political and civil circles. Their safe and sound release was considered a vital sign of power of public pressure. But, complacency often proves short lived in our part of the world. So here you are. According to media reports, FIA has lodged a case against ‘lost-and-found’ blogger, Salman Haider and others for allegedly committing blasphemy on social media. In fact, one would be surprised if ‘push’ had not come to this shove. With entire saga of Zarb-e- Azab and CPEC and other developments on one side, before our own eyes, forces of darkness are marching on while social harmony and liberal approach are continued to recede. And this is the country fighting a war of its survival. It is extremely deplorable that terrorists arrested from the battle lines are given passage free but writers and commentators are booked. Blasphemy charge, now proven or not, against a person who has already incurred hostility of zealots is sure to make his life a miserable. The charge has capital punishment but if freed, there is little guarantee of his life. This is happening in those times when our arch rival, India is hell bent on pushing us into international isolation and we too leave no stone unturned to give it a helping hand.”

     

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    See also

    15/03/2017 14:44:00 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Catholics: Social media ban "is not the solution" to online blasphemy

    Yesterday, the National Assembly has ordered the closure of websites that contain insults against the prophet. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised to bring the perpetrators to justice. The announcement could also affect Radio Veritas. Secretary of the Commission for the Conference of Social Communication of the Bishops: "The mistake of a few should not compromise the good of many."



    02/01/2018 15:19:00 PAKISTAN
    Activists applaud acquittal of Lahore intellectuals

    The families of former suspects consider the possibility of asking for compensation. The hate campaign "orchestrated by people involved in abductions". Donald Trump's tweet against financing terrorism. The blasphemy laws "continue to be abused".



    30/01/2017 09:56:00 PAKISTAN
    Missing activist professor reappears

    Salman Haider had disappeared in Islamabad on January 6th. Before him, two bloggers went missing in Lahore. Another missing blogger makes contact with the family. No news of the president of the Civil Alliance of Progressive Pakistan.

     



    02/01/2018 10:35:00 PAKISTAN
    Islamabad, abducted intellectuals acquitted of blasphemy

    Bloggers and activists have all fled abroad. Public pressure favours their acquittal. One activist spoke of torture. Demands for an investigation against those who spread "false propaganda".



    21/07/2015 PAKISTAN
    Lahore: Two Christians arrested for blasphemy could get the death penalty
    The two brothers have been accused of posting disrespectful content on their website. After four years on the run abroad and at home, Qaisa and Amoon are now in the same Lahore prison. The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) is dealing with their case.



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