The Petty Vindictiveness of Blasphemy Laws

The Times of India reports that an 11-year-old girl, Rimsha Masih, has been arrested for blasphemy, for alleged Koran desecration in Pakistan. In case you were one of the last people on Earth who was under the illusion that these blasphemy laws were somehow about protecting religious feelings or preventing religiously inspired violence, this should change your mind pretty quickly.

Writes The Times:

The girl was arrested on Friday by personnel from a women’s police station after a man named Syed Muhammad Ummad filed a complaint against her.

However, an NGO named ‘Christians in Pakistan’ reported on its website that the girl has ‘Down Syndrome’ and had been falsely accused of burning 10 pages of the Quran.

As you can see, this is not some blatant, aggressive antigovernment or anti-Islam demonstration by an activist (the criminalization of which would be unacceptable in its own right). The “perpetrator” is not even an adult. The possibility that she may be mentally impaired only makes this kind of persecution more sickening. Even worse, according to The Guardian, is that she may face the death penalty for this victimless crime.

There is no universe in which this alleged act could have been any harm to the state or the integrity of Islam in general. Arrests and persecutions for small acts like this are purely vindictive. Nothing more. They expose the sham that is anti-blasphemy policy.

Reportedly, Ms. Masih is a Christian, and hundreds in her village are now going into hiding due to threats. Just as we condemn the persecution of fellow atheists like Alexander Aan in Indonesia, I hope that our community and our movement can also rally to the support of persecuted Christians like this 11-year-old girl from a village in Pakistan.

About Paul Fidalgo

Paul is communications director for the Center for Inquiry, as well as an actor and musician. His blog is iMortal, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo, and the blog tweets as @iMortal_blog.
The opinions expressed on this blog are personal to Paul and do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Inquiry.

  • Annie

    Also, from what I’ve read, there is no proof that this even happened, other than one person reporting it to police?  That’s one powerful eye witness.

  • Miss_Beara

    Lets take out the whole burning some pages of a book that may not have even happened, thing. An adult filing a complaint against an 11 year old girl. So sad and pathetic.

    I didn’t know there was a couple sentenced to 25 years for allegedly touching the freakin book with unwashed hands. 

    Makes me sick.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    And there was the doctor who threw the drug salesman’s business card in the trash.  Of course, like most Muslim men, the salesman was named “Mohammed”.

  • http://twitter.com/moother moother

    Insanity: now also known as “petty vindictiveness.”

    Also, I’d have expected the Mighty Allah not to feel threatened by a kid.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Vernon/587140994 Bill Vernon

    Can we lob guided missiles at her captors and impose the death sentence on them if she is put to death?

  • Alchemist

    I don’t think there are words available in the English language to describe the disgust I feel for these revolting people.

  • DaveDodo007

    When people go down this path they create prisons in their own minds, It is self impose slavery and humanity is lesser for it.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    What the.. How.. Why the hell would you… CAN SOMEONE PLEASE JUST FIRE THE DAMN MISSILES ALREADY!?A

  • Pureone

    While I personally despise this sort of thing-Christians who use the “argument from popularity” to try to push all of their crap on us here should be supporting the majority there and their decisions. Plus they have holy writings and tradition. 

  • http://twitter.com/davehodg Dave Hodgkinson

    This isn’t about blasphemy, it’s about stupidity. It’s about a group of people untouched by the enligtenment.

  • Alex

    I’m sorry if this comes out the wrong way, but… fuck Islam. Fuck it right in the face. No, I think it came out exactly right. In fact, fuck any religion that imposes itself as any sort of law.

    I mean, Christians around the US and the rest of the world do some nasty shit, but arresting an 11-year old for defacing a book? Give me a break?


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