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Pakistan: The Council of Islamic Ideology on blasphemy

Thursday 3 March 2022, by siawi3


CII on blasphemy


Published February 26, 2022 - Updated 2 days ago

FOR a change, the Council of Islamic Ideology has taken a position that no one with either a religious or secular mindset should find controversial. On Wednesday, following a meeting presided over by its chairman, Qibla Ayaz, and attended by 17 religious scholars, the statutory body issued a statement to say that violence against anyone on allegations of blasphemy is “inhuman and contrary to Islamic principles”.

It called for expeditious legal proceedings against those guilty of lynching Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara in December last year in Sialkot over allegations of blasphemy. The horrific murder, in which a mob beat the victim to death and set his body on fire, laid bare on the international stage the simmering issue of religiously inspired violence in the country which intermittently claims Pakistani lives. Perhaps it was the glare of this global spotlight, and the negative consequences that could ensue from it, which prompted the CII to issue a statement that would have been equally relevant much earlier.

Violence stemming from blasphemy allegations is nothing new in the country. It has targeted non-Muslims disproportionately, and not even spared the mentally handicapped. In fact, the very first lynching on this count after Mr Kumara’s murder was that of a man in Khanewel who was known to suffer from mental health problems.

However, the remedy suggested by the CII to address such bestial violence — the constitution of a national commission to make recommendations for preventing such incidents — is a superficial one, Band-Aid for a cancer that has metastasized. The problem is far too deep-seated to be resolved by a group of experts in law, sociology and psychology.

Many opportunities to address religious extremism in the country have been squandered because it required taking difficult decisions and the resolve to stand by them. In fact, we have regressed. The state has ‘mainstreamed’ an ultra-right group that is at the vanguard of the murderous witch-hunt against alleged blasphemers. In any case, the government should not look to the CII for remedies.

More often not, the body has issued extremely controversial statements in the past. For example, it has said there should be no minimum age for marriage and that DNA should not be considered primary evidence in rape cases, not to mention rejected any meaningful legislation on domestic violence. The fact is, through this platform, ultra conservative unelected elements can, with a single statement, dilute or derail progressive legislation.



CII declares violence over blasphemy allegations against principles of Islam

Javed Hussain

Published February 23, 2022

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has declared violence against a person on allegations of blasphemy contrary to Shariah and Islamic principles, according to a statement issued by the forum, which has also suggested the constitution of a national commission that would make recommendations for preventing such incidents.

The statement was issued after a CII meeting presided over by the body’s chairperson, Dr Qibla Ayaz.

It said the participants of today’s meeting revisited the discussion of a CII meeting on December 20, 2021, which was called over the Sialkot lynching incident in which Sri Lankan factory manager Priyantha Kumara was tortured to death and his body set on fire by a mob over allegations of blasphemy.

The need for improving the judicial system to prevent the recurrence of Sialkot-like incidents was stressed in the December 20 meeting.

In today’s meeting, CII members “again declared that subjecting any person to violence on allegations of dishonouring religion, desecration of the Holy Quran and Namoos-i-Risalat was against Shariah, inhumane and contrary to Islamic principles”, the statement said.

Council members called for taking to task the elements involved in the Sialkot lynching at the earliest so that “the nation’s confidence in the law and judicial system is restored”. In this regard, they further pointed out that the “bigger issue is that of implementation of the law and uncertainty about [the suspects] being punished”.

The participants also expressed concerns over similar incidents in the recent past, particularly referring to the Khanewal lynching as well as violence in Swabi and Kahror Pacca.

“This meeting once again staunchly condemns such incidents and expresses deep sorrow over them. Such brutal torture by a violent mob is neither logical nor in line with the injunctions of the religion,” the statement read.

It added that CII members suggested that ahadith and verses of the Holy Quran pertaining to humanity and the protection of lives and properties be displayed with translation in mosques, imambargahs, monasteries and educational institutions.

They further recommended that timings be fixed for discussion on such verses and ahadith on media platforms, especially television programmes.

“This special meeting suggests to the government that a national commission be formed, with psychologists and experts of sociology, law and religion as its members, that will make short-term and long-term recommendations for the prevention of such incidents (that involve violence over blasphemy allegations) so as to end them,” the statement said. “This commission will also make recommendations for improving the nation’s behaviour.”

The CII further called for measures to restore the traditional family system, that it said was on a decline due to various national and international factors.

The council also appreciated the inclusion of Paigham-i-Pakistan — a fatwa against terrorism — in parliament’s agenda and said the provincial assemblies should follow suit.

After the meeting, Dr Ayaz addressed a press conference, where he reiterated the CII’s suggestions and views shared by it members.

He said that delays in the punishments of actual culprits guilty of disrespecting the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) was giving rise to incidents that took place in Sialkot and Khanewal, and subjecting any person to violence over blasphemy allegations was against Shariah.

Dr Ayaz again stressed that culprits of the Sialkot incident be punished at the earliest.