Pakistan: Teenagers arrested for blasphemy
Adil Babar and Simon Masih, Pakistani Christians who are 18 and 14 years old respectively, have reportedly become the newest victims of the country’s blasphemy law.
It started, apparently, with a “minor altercation” with police. The local police constable had accused the two of blasphemy—insulting the Prophet Muhammad—and attempted to arrest them. Though bystanders asked for evidence of the blasphemy and the constable could not provide it, soon leaving the scene, the boys were nonetheless arrested later that evening.
They are set to be tried for the crime, which, in Pakistan, can carry the death penalty; although actual executions are rare, death row inmates for blasphemy can expect to spend their lives in prison.
Iran: Two more executions for blasphemy
The Iranian regime is continuing its barbaric string of executions in its effort to strangle protests that have rocked the nation for months on end now. While many of these place political charges explicitly at the forefront of the perpetrators’ alleged “crimes,” the religious authorities are also not hesitant to use “blasphemy” as a front to murder their own people. Exactly that has happened again, claiming the lives of two individuals.
As CNN reports, with information from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom:
Yusef Mehrdad and Sadrullah Fazeli Zare were arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to death in April 2021 for running online “anti-Islam groups and channels,” [the judiciary news agency] Mizan said.
Authorities convicted both after they were found to be members of a Telegram channel titled “Critique of Superstition and Religion,” according to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Among the crimes for which they were accused—apart from participation in this Telegram channel, which would have been grounds enough for Iran to execute them—was the burning of Islamic religious texts.
Iran’s bloodthirsty criminal rulers have been emboldened beyond the point of no return, and outrageous cases like this one only prove it further. Executions are unlikely to abate until the regime in its current form ceases to exist.
Rushdie appears at PEN America event for speech
Months after his near-fatal stabbing, Salman Rushdie has appeared in public again, ever defiant against efforts of terror. At a PEN America gala, he accepted the Centenary Courage Award from the organization and gave a speech addressing last year’s stabbing attack.
Rolling Stone gives an excerpt of the speech:
With regard to what happened, the event in Chautauqua, New York, on Aug. 12 of last year, I’m being awarded a Courage Award, but the true courage was not shown by me. After I was attacked, the first person who ran to defend me was Henry Reese of the City of Asylum project in Pittsburgh, who was onstage with me to discuss that project — excellent work on behalf of endangered writers. When he saw what was happening, Henry … a man in his 70s, ran at my assailant, who was 24 years old with a knife, and tackled him to the ground. Immediately after that, a substantial number of people in the front of the audience ran up to help him and jumped on top of my assailant, and held him down. And if it had not been for these people, I most certainly would not be standing here today.
So I accept this award … but I accept it primarily on behalf of those who came to my rescue and saved my life. I was the target that day, but they were the heroes. The courage that day was all theirs. … Terrorism must not terrorize us. Violence must not deter us. As the old Marxists used to say, ‘La lutte continue. La lutta continua.’ The struggle goes on.”