These Islamic Lawyers Are Responsible for the Spike in Blasphemy Charges in Pakistan

Ever wonder why blasphemy charges are so prevalent in countries like Pakistan? Or what sort of depraved lawyers would dare to argue in court that people should be executed for a thoughtcrime?

Now we know:

An image on the group's Facebook page

An image on the group’s Facebook page

The group, whose name translates as The Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood, offers free legal advice to complainants and has packed courtrooms with representatives, a tactic critics say is designed to help it gain convictions.

The stated mission of the Khatm-e-Nubuwwat Lawyers’ Forum and its leader Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry is uncompromising: to use its expertise and influence to ensure that anyone insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad is charged, tried and executed.

“Whoever does this (blasphemy), the punishment is only death. There is no alternative,” Chaudhry told supporters crammed into his small office behind the towering red-brick High Court building in the eastern city of Lahore.

This is the group that defended Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, the man who assassinated a government official who said the blasphemy laws should be repealed. At least they didn’t win the case.

While reporters for Reuters weren’t sure where the group’s financing was coming from, they found that the organization has 700 lawyers on the team, allowing them to file 336 blasphemy cases in 2014 and 210 in 2015 (the lower number was due to new local restrictions).

While no one has been official executed on account of blasphemy, dozens of the accused have been killed by people like Qadri, who decided to take the law into their own hands.

They’re enabling the killers, though, by insisting that blasphemy is a crime that needs to be prosecuted. If only there were this many lawyers in the country on the side of free speech, we might actually get somewhere.

(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Scott for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.