Pakistani Police Arrest Christian For Blasphemy in Church on Christmas

In Lahore, Pakistan, police arrested Amanat Masih while he was in church on Christmas day. Masih, 50, was arrested for blasphemy — the second such arrest based on what he insists are trumped up charges by one man. He was previously sent to jail for more than three years for blaspheming Islam.

He was held for nine hours as hundreds of Muslims gathered outside calling for his death. He is now in hiding.
He was previously accused of burning pages of the Koran, but was acquitted of the false charges. However, he spent years in jail on the account of one man. He was tortured during his captivity and his family’s home was burned down. Recently, one his daughters and son-in-law were kidnapped and forced to “convert” to Islam.

In the meantime, a Christian minister who converted from Islam in Uganda was attacked on Christmas day by a man who threw acid him his face in a crime believed to be religiously motivated.

Pakistan is one of the nation’s pushing for an international blasphemy law. I have been critical of the work of the Obama Administration with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in finding “middle ground” between protecting religion and free speech. The Administration has rightfully point to the latest draft of the U.N. resolution as an improvement in that it convinced the OIC to drop blasphemy language and embrace the standard of “imminent lawless conduct” from Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969). I have spoken to top Administration officials about this effort following my critical column in The Los Angeles Times. I do believe that they succeeded in moderating the language of the OIC in Resolution 16/18 — no small feat. However, there remains the foundational question of whether the United States should engage the OIC on this ill-conceived mission. For countries like Pakistan, any statement against Islam threatens imminent violence. The Brandenburg standard is controversial in the United States because of its ambiguity and chilling effect on speech. Placed in the hands of a country with a blasphemy law, it legitimates religious orthodoxy and limitations on free speech and the free exercise of religion. Countries like Saudi Arabia do not even allow public worship by other faiths. They are not going to embrace the free speech sentiments of the resolution. Rather they will continue the stated purpose of getting the West to embrace limitations of free speech in the name of religion.

I do believe that moderate Muslim nations are trying to steer a course away from blasphemy prosecutions and that the Administration is acting in what it considers the best interests of free speech. However, I see this effort as only promising more limitations on speech — a trend seen in West countries.

Source: Christian Post as seen on Reddit.

15 thoughts on “Pakistani Police Arrest Christian For Blasphemy in Church on Christmas

  1. There could be some validity of this crime if they view this former pagan ritual as the basis of te charge…

  2. If religion and the Republican/Tparty had it their way in America I would probably be sent to jail for blasphemy just like this for what I said about the Catholic church and adoption.

  3. Is the standard of “imminent violent speech” from Brandenburg?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio
    What is “violent speech”? Ejecting spit?

    Brandenberg is “immanent lawless action” meaning speech that provokes lawless action against a 3rd party, not speech that provokes lawless action against the speaker, not “fighting words”.

    None of this sounds like “free discussion of ideas”, our dear goal.

    Yes they may have take one small step for mankind, but …

  4. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein said it better than anyone before or since:

    “Of all the strange crimes that humanity has legislated out of nothing, blasphemy is the most amazing – with obscenity and indecent exposure fighting it out for second and third place.”

    Heinlein also wrote:

    “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.” [Postscript to Revolt in 2100]

    2100 is arriving early.

  5. I think the US should just state that we support the free exchange of ideas, and tell other countries that we think they should as well. Then we should focus our energies on securing freedom of debate in the US (let’s start with stopping the arrest of XL pipeline demonstrators outside the front door of the White House, and dig up that #$%$&# fountain),
    and then work on allowing people to petition the government for redress of grievances, like the murder of children by drones, like at Hancock, where the petitioners were found guilty and a few locked up,
    and like shouting insults at encouragement to Senators from the Senate balcony.

  6. JT, you say “because of its ambiguity and chilling effect on speech”.
    Huh?
    What is the ambiguity, and what is the chilling effect?
    It is a tougher test because they felt that “clear and present danger” provided too much leeway to government (and because Holmes came to the wrong conclusion.)

    What would you prefer as a formulation?

  7. raff, I think the opposite ought to be true as well. Any state or government ought to be able to operate freely for the benefit of its citizens without interference from both organized and unorganized religion.

    Religious people can believe in anything or nothing, but attempting to impose those beliefs into government policy has no place in a civilized society.

  8. Well, if he was an American, he could end up in some jail, anywhere in the world, without charge, for an indefinite time. This arrest might be caused by some statement made which might be seen by an American intelligence agent (no pun intended) as a threat to the Twin Towers or the Kardasian twins. Some statement like blashphemy at a church anywhere in the world.
    Maybe they arrested him for the U.S.

  9. I cringe at the thought of any religion putting its mark on government. Humans have an innate sense of right or wrong without religion, but the religious will tell you it is because of religion that people have these moral standards and try to legislate it at every turn.

    They simply and blindly carry on their religious institution’s policy of doing everything it can to further the cause of the insitution…at the highest levels its done as a means of politics, power, and control at the lowest levels the followers are told that ‘spreading the word’ is necessary to win the love of their God.

    Its a shame we can’t just live and let live.

  10. OS, and Jonathan: We err when we see Pakistan as a secular country. We err in trying to make Afghanistan a secular country, as to be Afghani and Muslim, you submit first to Islam, and from Islam the government receives it’s authority. We seem deliberately obtuse to this fact.

    Iran is a transparent example. The Representatives pass a bill. The President signs the bill after making a few changes, and an impassioned speech.
    The Ruling Council Imams meet, some are less thrilled, but it passes with some comment.
    The Ayatollah says: نخیر (no).
    Everyone acts as-if it never happened… except for the Republican Guards. Who arrest the sponsoring legislators, and very likely imprison or execute someone for coming to the Ayatollah’s attention in such a negative fashion.

    Turkey, ostensibly secular, is having greater pressure from within to abandon secular law, and embrace Sharia. Many Turks object to becoming another Iran. We’ll see how this plays-out, probably with some role played by the Syrian conflict, and the Iranian spider web.

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