Pakistani Christian Jailed for Blasphemy Over Facebook Like

As reported by the Associated Press:

Pakistani police say they have arrested a 16-year-old Christian boy on blasphemy charges after he “liked” an “inappropriate” photograph on Facebook of the Kaaba in Mecca, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Senior police official Akhtar Ansari said Wednesday the arrest was made this week in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province.

He says police have sent the boy to jail pending trial.

Ansari says police made the arrest after being alerted of the Facebook post by a Muslim, who said he found it insulting.

Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam can be sentenced to death. However the laws are also sometimes used to settle personal scores and target minorities.

You can read more on the story here and here.

UN Committee Insists on Revocation of Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

Vatican Radio reports that the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has urged Pakistan to revoke its draconian blasphemy law. From the article:

The commission based in Geneva, in its periodic report on Pakistan released on August 26, stated that misuse of blasphemy laws is surging in the heavily Islamic country.

The Commission based in Geneva “takes note of the state’s efforts to prevent the abuse of blasphemy laws”, but also expresses concern about “efforts for the broad and vague definition of crimes against religion under articles of the law”, which consists of some articles of the penal Code of Pakistan, and notes “the disproportionate use of those laws against individuals belonging to ethnic and religious minorities”.

The UN Committee in its report, expressed concerns relating “the high number of blasphemy cases based on false accusations with no related investigations and prosecutions, the judges who judge cases of blasphemy face intimidation, death threats and murders.”

You can read the full article here.

Turkish Pianist Fazıl Say Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

The Hurriyet Daily News reports on some welcome news out of Turkey:

World-renowned Turkish pianist Fazıl Say was acquitted of blasphemy charges on Sept. 7, four years after being sentenced to a suspended jail term after sharing a post on his Twitter account.

An Istanbul court ordered Say’s acquittal on charges of “insulting religious beliefs held by a section of society” for retweeting several lines attributed to the 11th century Persian poet Omar Khayyam in 2012.

In a post on his Instagram account after the four-year judicial struggle, Say thanked and congratulated his lawyer Meltem Akyol.

He had received a suspended 10-month prison sentence in April 2013 for retweeting Khayyam’s lines after three people filed a criminal complaint to the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office, accusing him of blasphemy. …

Among the lines attributed to Khayyam that Say retweeted was: “You say its rivers will flow in wine. Is the Garden of Eden a drinking house?”

You can read the full article here.

10 Years Jail, 2,000 Lashes for Saudi Man Who Said He Is an Atheist

Al-Masdar News reports:

A Saudi court has sentenced a 28-year old man to ten years prison, 2,000 lashes and a fine around $5000 for tweeting that he was an atheist.

The man had refused to repent and expressed his beliefs that he had a right to express them.

A law that defines atheism as “terrorism” is what he was charged under.

Article one of the law defined terrorism as “calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”.

You can read the article here.

Malta Repeals Blasphemy Law

The parliament of Malta has voted to repeal the country’s law that criminalizes the vilification of religion, reports the End Blasphemy Laws campaign.

The island nation of Malta has become the latest country to scrap its “blasphemy” law. In abolishing the law against “vilification” of religion, Bill 133 in a victory for free expression and freedom of religion or belief.

The traditionally Catholic country previously outlawed “vilification of religion”, with “vilification” very loosely defined. The law meant that speech against beliefs and ideas (as opposed to incitement to hatred against individuals) could be prosecuted. And the law was frequently used to prosecute or threaten prosecution, often for flimsy “crimes” such as swearing on the streets.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna lamented the news by stating it was a “sad day” :

“Demeaning God and man indeed go hand in hand. A sad day for Malta. Lord forgive them: they do not know what they do.”

You can read further coverage here.

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The Campaign for Free Expression is an initiative of the Center for Inquiry (CFI) to focus the public's attention and efforts on one of the most basic and foundational human rights: the freedom to express yourself. We hope you join us.