Seeing God = Blasphemy = Death

Two years ago, Riaz Ahmed, now 34, and Ijaz Ahmed, 38, claimed to have seen God. Due to the vagaries of religion, such a claim may mark someone as supremely devout, or possibly a little loopy.

But in Pakistan, where even something as innocuous as quoting the Qur’an can get you in trouble with the law, seeing God marks you for death under the country’s blasphemy law.

Judge Chaudhry Zafar Iqbal on Saturday awarded death sentences to two men he found guilty of blasphemy.

Qari Muhammad Ahmed, 27, the complainant, a resident of Haroonabad, said that the convicts had also invited other people to join them in their union with God through Chaman Sarkar.

Malik Ghulam Qasim, the defense lawyer, told The Express Tribune that he would continue to fight against a law that could be easily misused to victimize innocent people.

“I tried my best to defend them,” Qasim said. “We seriously need to reconsider the blasphemy law and its enforcement.”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Raising_Rlyeh

    “We seriously need to reconsider the blasphemy law and its enforcement.”

    That has to be the most obvious statement I have heard in a long time.

  • Pepe

    The last politician who said this was killed. By his own bodyguard.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmaan_Taseer

  • A3Kr0n

    Two of them have been killed. I just read about it today.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    So, the next proffit may already have arrived, and been executed. Brilliant.

  • paulalovescats

    Prophet?

  • CryoFly

    But then there is profit to be made by claiming to have seen god. :))

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Er, both?

  • paulalovescats

    Was it a Goldfish, a piece of toast, a high-rise window or a cloud?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    My understanding is that there are cases where disagreeing with the Pakistani blasphemy law has itself been declared blasphemy. It is against the law to disagree with the law. That kind of thinking in tight little circles might be where the slang term “loopy” came from.

    How would you like to be the defense attorney arguing in front of a judge who at any moment could rule that your defense of blasphemers is itself blasphemy, and order your execution along with them? Mr. Qasim should always be ready to leave Pakistan by the underground railroad at a moment’s notice.

    Blasphemy laws are a public confession that the protected religion is so frail that it can be blown down merely by the breath of normal speech.

    Blasphemy laws are a public confession that the protected religion is so intellectually weak that it cannot defend itself against the most casual challenge of doubt.

    Blasphemy laws are a public confession that the protected religion’s leaders are so cowardly, and their purported god is so impotent that they must hide behind man-made penalties of fines, beatings, and death.

    Malik Ghulam Qasim, the defense lawyer, told The Express Tribune that he would continue to fight against a law that could be easily misused to victimize innocent people.

    Blasphemy laws cannot ever be used appropriately. Any use of blasphemy laws is misuse.

  • Malcolm McLean

    Well no. This is probably an example where the law can be justified. Two men claim to have “seen God” and start a movement, attracting members, maybe starting to take subscriptions. There’s a strong argument that the authorities should discourage that sort of thing. In the States they take the view that if you want to be a Scientologist or Heaven’s Gater or whatever then it’s your concern, but reasonable people could argue that the American system is an open invitation to every fraudster going.

    Death is a very harsh penalty for what, on the worst analysis, is a simple fraud against victims who really have only themselves to blame. And if your blasphemy law discourages new religious movements, it’s got to have a concept of “the legitimate religious tradition”, which is hard to justify philosophically. However if God has genuinely appeared to these men, then it’s unlikely that anything a secular authority could do would frustrate God’s plan.

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

    i do not find your argument compelling in any way.

    blasphemy laws, as RW correctly points out, have almost nothing to do with “protection” of any person or invisible being. in 100% of the cases in history, they are motivated by the politics, greed, sectarian hatred, jealousy and other indefensible reasons of the prosecuting groups. it’s not only a ridiculous intellectual concept, it’s one that is by definition nonfunctional in any legal system that purports to be fair.

    IOW, something that should be on the law codes… nowhere, not at any time.

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

    So go after people for fraud then. That’s already a crime. There’s no need to have laws to protect a god’s feelings.

    And remember, gods are all so impotent that they can indeed be thwarted by mere humans. After all, blasphemy laws are proof that gods can’t look after themselves at all.

  • Malcolm McLean

    They protect the believers more than God – if two children are having a playground squabble and one insults the other one’s mother, the adults are unlikely to think much of the actual insult. But teacher might well take a dim view of it.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Protection from being insulted. Perfect. Nothing can go wrong there.

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

    So religious people’s feelings are so delicate they must be protected from the very notion that people might disagree with them? This can’t possibly go wrong or infringe on any rights other people might have.

    Shall we ban homophobia next? I find it terribly offensive. Or how about music I hate? It, too, offends me, and thus it should be a criminal offense to subject me or anyone else to its horror.

  • Black Leaf

    And how is that different from the start of any other religious movement? Just because this one is more recent doesn’t mean it’s more wrong, or should be treated differently. If they are actually defrauding people in some demonstrable way, then prosecute them for that, not for their religious claims.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Why pick on Heaven’s Gaters? Is it because of their atrocious haircuts? What about seasoned fraudsters that have enough clout to wad all of David Koresh’s shotguns and have accumulated wealth, privilege and protection from the rule of law? You don’t need blasphemy laws to protect minors from the Roman Criminal Church’s abuse…You just have to enforce existing statutes on child molestation against a violent organized crime syndicate.

  • Randy Wanat

    How is any religion not engaging in fraud?

  • Malcolm McLean

    We can sell snake oil as a cancer cure, knowing that it’s totally ineffective,and with the primary motive to make money. Fraud. We can sell snake oil as a mild nervous system inhibitor, If the snake it’s extracted from is venomous it might well do what we say it will. Not fraud. Or we can sell snake oil as a sort of general “make you feel good” sort of medicine, and we might genuinely think it works. That’s a difficult one with lots of grey areas, there’s probably a placebo effect, for example.

    It’s the same with religion. Not all claims made by religious people are false. Whilst I’ve no time for the book of Mormon,, cutting out all drugs from your diet will make many people feel better, for example.Whilst I don’t think eating pig is inherently problematic, in the hot Middle East pork is genuinely quite dangerous if you don’t maintain it properly.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    So explain why something is dangerous. Why add God to the mix?

  • Randy Wanat

    Give us money for products and services we’ll never actually provide in any discernible manner. When is that something other than fraud? When it’s done in the name of religion.

  • momtarkle

    TOURIST ALERT: If you’re in Pakistan and happen to run into God, don’t look him in the Eyes; just turn around and walk away. And, DON’T TELL ANYBODY!