Woman Charged with Blasphemy in Revenge for Refusing Arranged Marriage

Atheist bloggers and antiestablishment protesters aren’t the only ones with blasphemy charges leveled against them. Sometimes the victims are the well-to-do. In February, for example, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, was charged with the crime of blasphemy for, get this, criticizing the blasphemy law on television in 2010. And today in Pakistan (again), we have the case of Eraj Sajjad.

According to The News International, Sajjad is the daughter of “a famous bureaucrat,” and had refused to take part in an arranged marriage. The would-be groom didn’t take kindly to the rejection, and filed blasphemy charges for allegedly “giving derogatory remarks on a very sensitive religious issue.”

In her letter, [Sajjad] narrated that she had escaped from her residence in Lahore because her parents wanted her to marry a businessman Imtiaz Alam against her will. According to her, Imtiaz Alam belonged to a wealthy family and was an influential person therefore he managed to register a false blasphemy case by using his influence and money against her to get revenge as she had refused to marry him. In her letter, she sought protection and withdrawal of the false blasphemy case against her.

Assuming all of this reporting is correct, it just goes to show how volatile these blasphemy laws are. Put aside how on their very face they’re absurd and horrific in their basic violations of fundamental human rights to freedom of thought, speech, and belief. But in addition, they’re also so vague and easily manipulated, that they are often wielded not for religion reasons, but simply to take revenge or harm political or business opponents. And here we go again.

Authorities thus far have refused to help her, and it’s reported that “her parents and . . . Imtiaz Alam turned against her and they all wanted to kill her in the name of honor.”

Blasphemy convictions in Pakistan can mean a death sentence.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • gimpi1

    It’s hard not to shudder…

    It’s important to remember just how crazy people can get when belief or perceived honor are at stake. Having laws that fan the crazy about as dangerous as it gets.

  • BoGardiner

    Paul, looks like a link was omitted for the Sajjad part of the story.

  • Ryan Jean
  • http://nearearthobject.net/ Paul Fidalgo

    You’re right! I’ll go fix.

  • Deadpool

    You know, Hemant wouldn’t have forgotten the link. :p

  • WallofSleep

    “Hemant! Hemant! Hemant!”

    – Jan Brady

  • The Starship Maxima

    Hey, lay off the guy, he’s new. lol

  • Bob Jase

    “her parents and . . . Imtiaz Alam turned against her and they all wanted to kill her in the name of honor.”

    Well sure, anything to avoid giving a refund.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    ding ding ding! we have a winner.

  • Jeff Chang

    I am such a man that I get offended when a woman gives me the cold sholder.

    Bring me the police report for the blasmphey charge, mom! And don’t forget my blanket and a warm cup of Date milk to sooth my offended manly spirit.

    And don’t forget to collect some rocks and a 5lb bag of sand. It’s BYOR (Bring your own rocks) and BYOS (Bring your own sand). Apparently, we all have to pitch in to be able participate in the stoning of this woman.

    When I come home make sure the lotion is ready too. Stoning these defenseless women, in the name of Allah, is HARDWORK because of all the dry skin I get handling rocks.

  • WallofSleep

    But I was told that religion was a positive force for civilizing humanity. I think I may have been lied to.

  • The Starship Maxima

    It still is. But it is frightening how easily it can perverted to such disgusting ends.

  • Jeff See

    It would be awesome, if you could start listing concrete examples of where it’s been shown to be a ‘positive force for civilizing humanity’. All I see is a controlling, regressive, oppressive force for the dumbing down of mankind. Even when they hand out charity, they hand out their poison to go along with it.

    Maybe some of the non-theistic religions are positive influences, (or, at least balance out their cost to mankind by contributing positively, somehow), but I personally feel, that by default, any religion that uplifts a deity, compromises itself when lifting up man. It has to serve the deity first.

  • The Starship Maxima

    That’s a selective way of looking at it.

  • Jeff See

    So, no examples? I’ll continue to stand by the statement.

    You could claim that the iron fist used back in the day (or currently, in the middle east), was used to hammer civilization out of the wild, but then you’d have to decide to use a selective definition of ‘civil’, one that includes stoning, beatings, amputations, live sacrifice, and beheading.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Asking for positive examples of religion’s influence on society is like asking for positive examples of science or patriotism on society.

    You looked at all the bad that’s been done in the name of religion and ignored that many good things have been perverted to abhorrent ends, like many atheists do.

  • Jeff See

    I’m still waiting on the examples. There is plenty of opportunity here to express them. Positive examples of science are easy to find; we’re using several right now. Patriotism is an interesting choice. It does you lots of good, if you’re sharing it with those around you; not quite as beneficial, if you’re on the opposing side. I suppose it’s a lot like religion.

  • http://www.paulcaggegi.com Paul Caggegi

    Positive examples of science http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/this-week-in-science only every week here. You still haven’t provided one.

  • Guest

    Negative examples of “science” (since we’re being generic) include the atomic bomb, Tuskegee syphilis experiments on blacks, Japan’s WW2 human experiments, man-made pollution, animal testing etc. I’ve also noticed a disturbing connection between atheism and white nationalism/supremacy, as those nuts love to use “evolution” and “science” to back their claims as being superior to other races.

    You can deny it as much as you want, but religion has helped build nations and empires. It was the cornerstone of some of the greatest civilizations. “Religion” is one of the reasons you have so much liberty, and yes, your own morals are influenced by religion, whether you can accept it or not. Your parents’ or their parents’ parents were influenced by religion at some point and the morals they lived by were passed down to you. Over time, religion has shaped the laws you live by.

    And please, stop being so generic about “religion”, when there are thousands of different ones that are very different from one another. Buddhism teaches people how to find peace in themselves, nature etc. Is that not positive? Christians believe in “love thy neighbor”, is that not a positive?

    Your morals are shaped by inherited religious aspects, whether you realize it or not.

  • http://www.paulcaggegi.com Paul Caggegi

    Sorry – where was I generic about religion? You speak as if science is to personally blame for what you listed, and that somehow religion built civilization, when you should well know science is a method and a tool by which to eliminate bias and discern the facts of a given question. Religious people in power have oppressed and halted progress based on belief and faith. Never proof or evidence. It is in spite of religion we have fought for the freedoms we enjoy in some parts of the world today, and religion is what denies people real freedoms in many parts of the world.

  • Yuri Nalarm

    Morals are not religious you goon. You pick and choose which things out of your holy book you wish to honor and ignore the rest. Most probably using the scientific method to do so.

  • Guest

    You have religion to thank for shaping the culture you live in that allows you so much freedom, fool. Whether you choose to see reality or not.

    Your welcome, by the way.

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    You mean the religion of the Inquisition and the Crusades and Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans? Or do you mean the Enlightenment philosophy which explicitly rejected that sort of deity and lent itself, at best, to a sort of vague deism and to which Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Franklin, and Payne all subscribed?

    Our country was founded on Enlightenment ideals that were explicitly not-Christian, though they weren’t anti-Christian by any means.

  • Jeff See

    Freedom wasn’t won by religion. Freedom was won on the sacrifice of man, for man. The Revolutionary War wasn’t fought for the glory of God, but for the freedom of the United States. Religion only brings its own restrictions on freedoms; it was one of the biggest driving factors in early European migrations to this country. Look who’s the fool, now.

    And thanks, by the way. I haven’t laughed so hard yet today, as I did when I read your comment.

  • The Starship Maxima

    By appointing yourself God and trying to coerce others to bend to your will, it is YOU who are guilty of blasphemy. How on Earth is it that difficult to see?

  • Carmelita Spats

    Says I to Christendom, “By appointing yourself Christ’s rep on Earth and trying to coerce women to bend to your cult’s mad, maudlin and theologically medicated view of gynecology, it is YOU who are guilty of blasphemy. How on Earth is that difficult to see?” Texas Gov Rick Perry takes note and gets a sticky state-mandated sonogram wand up his nether parts…for Jesus. Just sayin’.

  • Matt D

    Since a Christian telling Atheists that Muslims are guilty of blasphemy doesn’t make sense, I’d strongly suggest you direct this statement to a Muslim blog (link the article if you want), if you really want an answer.

  • The Starship Maxima

    And risk being threatened with digital beheading? No thanks.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    I’m hoping international attention helps. After all, it doesn’t seem she has anything else.

  • BoGardiner

    I just posted this on a general culture blog, and got the same reaction I do every time I post about blasphemy law atrocities. Nearly every commenter bypasses the fundamental human rights issue of the blasphemy laws themselves, and says things like:

    “Mainstream media sensationalizes these isolated cases to discredit religion,” or

    “It’s just that the government and/or persons involved are corrupt, and abusing blasphemy laws.” Or

    “We must respect their religious tradition.”

    Or worst, and very common, “Who cares? It’s not us.”

    We need to keep the pressure up; we have a lonnnng way to go to build the general outrage needed to do away with this medieval barbarity.

  • JA

    Sorry that that guy suffered penis shrinkage and all, but his reaction was extremely childish.

  • Camorris

    Do you suppose Pakistan has a law that penalizes someone for filing a false blasphemy accusation?

  • Trickster Goddess

    Anyone who kills a family member out of “honour” proves that they are utterly devoid of any such quality and brings the ultimate dishonour upon their family.