Pakistan: Yet another blasphemy killing…
A teacher in Pakistan has been lynched for blasphemy, the latest occurrence of a commonplace event in the country.
The victim’s name was Abdul Rauf, a teacher of the English language, and he was only 22 years old. He was reportedly studying law and aspiring to be a lawyer.
The blasphemy accusation came from students, apparently as the result of something unspecified he had said—while teaching, reportedly, about “the gravity of the earth.” Details are not entirely clear—but in a pseudo-theocracy like Pakistan, it would be sadly unsurprising for a blasphemy allegation and a subsequent killing to result from simply telling the truth about physical reality.
Rauf was apparently set to explain the allegation and argue his innocence before a panel of ulema, but he never got that far. He was reportedly ambushed and murdered in a cemetery. The culprits were not identified.
…and further tightening of blasphemy laws
In a pattern that seems to keep repeating, Pakistan is contributing to the atmosphere that causes incidents like the above by further stigmatizing—and criminalizing—blasphemy.
The ongoing effort to strengthen the country’s blasphemy laws has advanced, with a law increasing penalties for insulting “sacred personalities” making it through the Senate. This amendment to the current blasphemy law would increase the minimum penalty to a whopping 10 years’ imprisonment.
Insanely, the bill’s purported purpose is to combat societal harm done by blasphemy, which supposedly includes "’terrorism’, ‘disruption in the country’ and hurt to people from all walks of life.” The terrorism and harm inflicted on blasphemy-accused individuals is apparently a secondary concern.
Indonesia: A preacher’s religious impropriety
A cleric and boarding school teacher in Indonesia who has come under fire from religious conservatives has recently been arrested. “Hate speech” is also among the listed charges.
As reported by Arab News:
Gumilang [the cleric] faces five years in prison for blasphemy, six for spreading hate speech and 10 on the charge of spreading fake news and intentionally causing chaos in public, according to the charges.
The school sparked uproar in conservative circles and protests outside its compound when social media footage in late April showed women praying in the same row as men.
Women are typically expected to pray behind men in traditional Islamic prayer.
Another practice of the school that sparked controversy was allowing women to give a sermon in Friday prayers, a task usually reserved for men in traditional Islamic teaching.
Scandalous, of course. This appears to be the primary (or sole) cause for grassroots anger against the man and the school and the reason for which he was arrested. We shall see whether the courts agree that this conduct constitutes “blasphemy” and “hate speech.”