Blasphemy Injustices in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
Unbelief Brief
April 22, 2024
Arrests for purported blasphemers and stalled justice for a murder victim disgrace the legal systems of these three countries.

Blasphemy Charges for Iranian artist…

Iran Wire has reported on the arrest of Atena Farghadani, an Iranian artist. According to the reporting, Farghadani suffered abuse at the hands of security forces during her arrest and detention, “resulting in visible facial injuries.” The report also states that she is currently being held at Qarchak Prison in Varamin, a city near Tehran.

According to “a source close to her family,” Farghadani refused bail in protest of her treatment and of the arrest itself.

In addition to the blasphemy charge, she is also accused of “disturbing public order” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”

Iran’s bloodthirsty execution spree since the 2022 murder of Mahsa Amini is well-known, and they have shown willingness in at least two cases since then to carry out executions based on blasphemy allegations. This puts Farghadani at a serious risk.

…and for a Western journalist in Afghanistan

Taliban officials have arrested Habib-ur-Rahman Taseer, a journalist who was working for Radio Free Europe.

They claim that this arrest—of a journalist working for an outlet far from sympathetic to the Taliban and its ideology—actually had nothing to do with the reporting of the journalist. It was, rather, due to undisclosed “blasphemy” he had committed over WhatsApp. This is, evidently, supposed to look better to an outside audience in their estimation.

In fact, it is only further confirmation of their barbarism: that they would arrest and detain a foreign journalist for saying something supposedly sacrilegious, while doing nothing other than peacefully reporting events in their country. That they have almost certainly lied about their true motivation is even more revealing:

Despite the accusations, a source informed Afghanistan International's Pashto service that Taseer's detention followed the publication of a report by Radio Free Europe. They suggested that while the journalist's report was the actual cause of the arrest, an audio message discovered on his phone post-detention is now being cited by the Taliban as the reason for his detention.

Seven years on, no justice for Mashal Khan

On April 13th, 2017, Mashal Khan, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan in Pakistan, was murdered by a lynch mob based on false accusations of nebulous “blasphemy.” Seven years later, his family is still seeking justice for the perpetrators of the murder that they have so far been largely denied.

Though initially, a death sentence had been handed to the main accused party, life imprisonment to four more, and four years’ imprisonment to 25 others, most of those were later granted bail and the death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Thus, dozens who had participated in the brutal murder face no functional consequences at this time.

An appeal to the case, lodged by Khan’s father, is currently waiting before the country’s Supreme Court—where it has languished for two years now.

It should be the hope of all who desire justice to see the Supreme Court speedily end the delay and ensure that those who took part in the lynching of an innocent university student are punished—not only for the sake of justice but for the sake of the family these attackers left bereaved.

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