Pakistani ambassador accused of blasphemy on account of opposing the death penalty for blasphemy.

Sherry Rehman is a Muslim, and Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.  She has recently been accused of blasphemy, a “crime” for which she could be put to death.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Sherry Rehman, an outspoken advocate for freedom of the press and for reforming the country’s harsh death penalty laws, was charged with blasphemy last month in Pakistan for comments she made on a television news show more than two years ago.

What were those comments?  Well, her blasphemy was saying that maybe we shouldn’t be killing people for blasphemy.

Rehman appeared on the Pakistani news channel Dunya TV on Nov. 30, 2010 to talk about an amendment she had introduced to eliminate the death penalty for blasphemy cases.

“The prophet, peace be upon him, fought against injustice, and for protection of minorities, throughout his life. And we can’t stain his name and his legacy with this kind of thing,” Rehman says in the video, according to a HuffPost translation of the footage.

Although her comments may not seem controversial, section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code clearly states that even imputation and indirectly derogatory remarks against the Islamic Prophet Mohammed can be punishable by death.

And ‘lo, we have a perfect example of how dogma perpetuates itself.  It’s one of my favorite sayings: “Catholicism lost its best argument when it stopped burning people at the stake.”

Make no mistake: the good guys are the ones who care more about the reliability of the methods they used to arrive at their beliefs far more than they care about holding specific beliefs.  The good guys are the ones who want to know when they might be wrong, and the agents of ignorance are the ones who insist certain questions must not be asked.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson


    It reminds me of the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill that threatened to imprison anyone who criticized the bill, or the recent attempt to make it illegal to introduce gun control measures in… a state I don’t quite recall at the moment.

    They know what they are doing. If you don’t believe, you are going to at least act like you believe. This is a common thread in communities heavily involved with faith. There’s no legal recourse here, but there is a great deal of pressure to go through the motions in many communities here.

    The hope here is that she’s high profile enough to make a change. But I doubt it. Religion already has too much power out here in the states. It is sickening to see it at this level, like in Pakistan.

    • Mike De Fleuriot

      I do not think anyone will be surprised if someone close to her, kills her in the next couple months. Seems the only way one can get an Islam view across is with the barrel of a gun

  • Andrew Kohler

    Not only is the death penalty for blasphemy completely unacceptable and the gravest possible offense against morality and any meaningful sense of decency, but here it is being held as a threat over someone who didn’t even make a blasphemous statement! Is saying that Mohammed fought against injustice and for the protection of minorities an aspersion on his character!? The implication seems to me along the lines of “How dare you say that the Prophet, peace be upon him [bit ironic in this context], isn’t an intolerant agent of oppression and violence like we are?!”

    The irony is that I don’t like to say nasty things (snarky, yes, but being nasty makes sad), and yet all I want to do is hurl the most blasphemous invective imaginable when I hear about blasphemy laws. It’s similar how the idea of burning a flag is repellent to me because I deplore the destructive impulse (although I don’t find burning a flag as vile as burning books), and so the only thing that would ever make me even consider it is a law telling me I can’t.

    • Loqi

      Is saying that Mohammed fought against injustice and for the protection of minorities an aspersion on his character!?

      Well, it’s certainly against his character in their holy book. Or at least the sections of their holy book that Pakistan has decided are The Truth. In that way, yeah, I can see it being considered blasphemy to say he did good stuff.