Proper procedure be adopted to check misuse of blasphemy: REAT

September 26, 2014 Off By Web Desk

KARACHI: Noted human rights activist, Ms Anis Haroon said that advocacy for minority rights should be done at policy level and laws should be made in favour of minorities.

“No law has been formed to deal with the personal and family issues of non-Muslims since Pakistan got independence. The same laws are followed for minority that were adopted by British rulers in 18th century,” she said this during a meeting of Right of Expression, Association, Assembly and Thought (REAT) Network held at a local hotel.

REAT is a national level network of 27 civil society organizations working for the protection of minority rights for one year in 10 districts of Pakistan including Umerkot, Larkana and Jacobabad of Sindh province.

Speaking as a chief guest and member of REAT, Haroon said that nobody had right to blasphemy and proper procedure should be adopted to file cases in this regard as people used the blasphemy act for their personal interests rather than their religious sentiments. Mutual harmony should be propagated to take religious leaders as stakeholders to eradicate growing injustice and intolerance in the society, she stressed.

Director Baanhn Beli, Younus Bandhani said the real issue was enforcement of law, and not its formulation as many laws already existed there in this regard. There was a need for better interaction with MNAs and MPAs, along law enforcement agencies and jurists who could help implement the laws.

“Constitution of Pakistan that gives minorities freedom of their religion and considers them as equal citizens is the base for REAT,” he said.

Member Sindh Bar Council Noor Naz Agha said Holy Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was the best example of tolerance in the history of humankind who also visited the ailing old woman who used to throw garbage on him.

“Forced conversion has no place in Islam and nobody should be murdered on the basis of faith. As far as discrimination is concerned so it could be found not only among religions but within religion also, such as caste system in Hinduism,” she said.

She said that a media campaign should be run to spread awareness to educate people so that a peaceful society could be formed.

President Karachi Press Club Imtiaz Faran said it was mostly land mafia that propelled for murders even within a community so it had nothing to do with religion. The best way to encounter blasphemy issue was to consult with Ulema not ‘Molvis’.

“Ulema should be contacted and interacted to tackle the blasphemy issue technically and REAT should include Prophet Muhammed’s (SAW) teachings and actions in their literature so that it could be understood how good behavior our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) adopted when dealing with minorities,” he said.

Chairman REAT Krishan Sharma said that REAT has been working for the rights of minorities for 1 year and it has established a helpline service 24/7 which could be contacted to resolve the issues of minorities with the help of local and provincial leaders.

He said that REAT had resolved many issues before its happening. Giving one such example, he said once an uneducated Hindu man after having skin infection on his foot went to an ‘Aamil’ who wrote some numbers having religious symbolic value on his foot. Then the local Muslims got furious; however the issue was resolved through the interference of local elders, religious leader and LEA after REAT contacted them.

Representatives of Asian Development Foundation, Piler, Civil Society Service Pakistan, and Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) were also present. Manager Human Aid Fund of The Asian Foundation Pakistan Sofia Noreen joined from Islamabad through Skype.

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