Pakistan’s U.S. Ambassador Charged With Blasphemy

HE_AmbSherryRehmanPakistan has been working with the Obama Administration in an effort to create an international blasphemy standard. Now one of its diplomats in Washington is accused of blasphemy herself. She has been accused of blasphemy by a businessman, an offense that carries the death penalty in Pakistan.

In violation of basic human rights, religious freedom, and free speech principles, Pakistan continues to prosecute anyone who utters a word that is derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad. This abusive charge was brought by a man who personifies the hate and intolerance behind the law. Businessman Muhammad Faheem Gill, 31, has been trying relentlessly to get Rehman charged and possibly put to death for simply speaking out against the law in a television interview in 2010. Gill was delighted that his efforts had finally resulted in a charge after three years of petitions. When police refused to file the charge, Gill went to the Supreme Court. He is entirely proud of leading the effort to execute people for simply speaking their minds about the laws of their nation. He is simply the face of the mob. Over fifty people have been killed after being accused of blasphemy since 1990.

Rehman has a stellar record, including the following journalistic and public interest credentials.

Sherry Rehman was the founding Chair of the Jinnah Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank committed to the strengthening of democracy, governance and an independent national security project in Pakistan. One of its main priorities is re-gaining space for moderate voices in the context of an extremist advance. She co-chaired several track-two strategic dialogues with India, and was convener of a similar institutionalized dialogue process between Pakistan and Afghanistan. She lectures widely on strategic security challenges facing Pakistan, and was a key member of the Legislative Councils that govern both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Sherry Rehman also served as Chairperson of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

Rehman is also an award-winning journalist from Pakistan with 20 years of experience in both the broadcast and the print media. Former editor of the “Herald” newsmagazine based in Pakistan, she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, USA, where she studied Government and Art History. In her capacity as a senior journalist, Rehman was the first Pakistani media person to be recognized by the UK House of Lords for independent journalism at the Annual British Muslim Ceremony in 2002.

While she is a patriot for her nation, we would be fortunate if Rehman would consider asking for asylum in his country where she would be able to continue her reform advocacy. There remain many progressive and modern intellectuals in Pakistan, but these charges are designed to create a chilling effect to keep them silent by Muslim extremists. As Pakistan turns more and more toward religious orthodoxy, voices like Rehman cannot be lost to the mob or hateful troglodites like Gill.

Source: Reuters

28 thoughts on “Pakistan’s U.S. Ambassador Charged With Blasphemy

  1. One could argue that Karma is harsh but this is a very serious matter. While working on an international blasphemy standard with the Obama Administration that would chill free speech and make criticism of religions, religious figures and other speech that might offend religious individuals a crime, one of Pakistans own Abassdors is charged with blasphemy. Perhaps the President will now reconsider this wrong headed task and instead support robust protection of the right of free speech.. That would certainly be a more laudable activity. Blasphemy should not be part of any governmental code. Incorporating such a law into international law grantslegitimacy to those who would murder in the name or orthodoxy and an ambiguous claim of “offense”. The US should be working to do away with such laws not enact them!

    I hope Ms. Rheman manages to avoid any negative results from this charge and that she remains safe.

  2. “In Pakistan, anyone who insults the Prophet (even indirectly or implicitly) can be given a death sentence or life imprisonment. Recently, a 14-year-old girl named Rimsha Masih was arrested and jailed for allegedly burning pages from the Quran. She was later freed after a Muslim cleric was accused of framing her.

    Over 1,200 people have been charged with blasphemy in Pakistan since the harsh law was enacted in 1986, according to English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Critics of the measure say the law is often used to persecute religious minorities or settle personal vendettas.” Huffington Post…. The harsh law was enacted in 1986. How old was Obama?

  3. Although I understand the desire for her to seek asylum, that doesn’t seem to be the way to change things in Pakistan. I’d much rather see the charges eventually dismissed and pressure build to change the law and culture of intolerance in Pakistan. That’d be better for Pakistanis and Americans.

  4. What Justice Holmes said. It would be blaphemous to not allow someone asylum who was being persecuted by allegedly religious people.

  5. Michael, she’s not going to change things by staying in Pakistan and lobbying. She’s going to be stoned to death. I suppose if she’s willing to martyr herself for your notion of incremental change, that might have some effect, but it’s a little wasteful of good people. I’d rather see her use the pulpit she has from a safe place, assuming the US stays safe in that regard, to speak out.

  6. I try to avoid anti-Muslim rants but sometimes it’s impossible. The Fundamentalists of that religion are mentally sick men, whose religious interpetations are used in service of maintaining their power. It is a case of medieval religious belief coming up against the modern world and those “true
    believers” feel genuinely threatened. Conceive if you will of someone who is firmly rooted in the beliefs of their religion. That person should have little doubts as to the “eternal truths” expressed in their Koran, or of the all powerful God they worship. Yet they are so threatened by even the hint of non-belief that they want to literally kill all who might even tangentially express it. To me that shows two basic options for that mindset: The first is that they are projecting their own personal doubts onto others and therefore need to eradicate those “others” so as not to shake their own tenuous doubts. The second is that they don’t really believe in what they’re preaching, but it affords them a good life and they feel jealous of any that would threaten it.

    Fundamentalism of any religion is a cancer on all of us. It currently has its highest expression in the Muslim world, yet we are under threat of it in this Christian world. The difference is that our Fundamentalists have’t fully achieved the power they lust over, but it can happen here.

  7. That US taxpayer $$$$ is being sent to Pakistani military who is funding the ISI and using those
    $$$$$ to put a bounty on Amerikan boys and girls heads begs the question of who should be investigated…


    One of the most important issues today is the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan and the fact that US
    Military Aid to Pakistan is being used to fund the Pakistani ISI which is in turn funding Taliban
    and Al Quada fighters. While this has been reported sporadically in the media for whatever
    reason political pundits on the left and right have effectively ignored this issue.

    Joe Klein in an article for Time, August 9, 2010, p. 19, has written an article that every American
    citizen should go to their library and read, he writes,

    “The commanders are unanimous in their belief that the ISI is running the show….And so,
    despite professions of alliance with the US by Pakistan’s then dictator Pervez Musharraf, a
    decision was made to keep the Taliban alive. A spigot of untargeted military aid from the George
    W. Bush Administration helped fund the effort. A commander of the vicious Haqqani Taliban
    network tells Waldman that their funding comes from ‘the Americans–from them to the
    Pakistani military, and then to us.’ Waldman reports that the commander receives from the
    Pakistanis ‘a reward for killing foreign soldiers, usually $4000 to $5000 for each soldier killed'”.

    American tax dollars if not directly, then indirectly are being used to fund the Taliban and put
    a bounty on American boys and girls head… Makes one wonder why the establishment right
    or left is not reporting on this? If the right is covering for
    the mistakes of the Bush administration…why is the establishment left not reporting on this???
    …this is the most important issue of the day…we will never win a war where if not directly then
    indirectly the US is funding the opposition!!!!

    woody voinche

  8. Paul,
    “How old was Obama?” he isn’t, he was anointed and has no age.”

    Popular Vote
    ……………OBAMA ……….ROMNEY
    TOTAL 65,367,939 60,707,106
    PERCENT 51.0% 47.3%

    I don’t remember dipping my finger in oil when I voted for Obama in 08.

    Can you please explain this “anointed” term for me. I do hear Limbaugh and his followers use it often. What do you mean by it ??

  9. Definition of BLASPHEMY

    a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God
    b : the act of claiming the attributes of deity

    The act of killing in the name of a deity sounds blasphemous to me.
    Deity told me to kill, deity told me to punish, deity made me do it.
    Petty minds require petty deities. …Petty minds invent petty deities.

  10. It would be good to see Mr. Gill accused of blasphemy and see how well he likes Pakistani jurisprudence.

    The ambassador should apply for asylum in the US just to see how our gov’t accepts it or not. If she is denied, it would embarass the administration because it would show that they are not commited to free speech and adhere to this nonsense of an international blasphemy standard. If she is granted asylum it would embarass Pakistan in the world community. Plus she should focus on her own life and not put herself in the hands of dangerous courts and evil politicians. They’d order her death and think nothing of it, being glad for doing so. Why give these trogs the satisfaction?

  11. Mike,

    The fundies of anything are sick people by definition…,. They have no balance…. Sans religion….

  12. Blasphemy laws have no place in a free society. However, we should remember that Christian blasphemy laws have been on the books in many states since colonial days. Of course, they were seldom enforced and became unconstitutional with the passage of the 14th Amendment, but they are still around. Oklahoma is presently considering a bill to eliminate its blasphemy statute this year.

  13. The Islamists will try and tell you that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance. In fact it is anything but that. Laws such as those described above are just one of many, many examples of that brutality.

    The “militant” Islamists, of which there are many spread throughout the Western world, will not tolerate any negative comment or criticism of Islam or Islamic beliefs. This is regarded as blasphemy whether it is or not. Their response to this is threats and intimidation which they also use to keep their own in line. Any one with a profile that dares to offer negative comment or criticism of the Muslim faith, no matter how moderate will be targeted. Do it often enough and a contract will be taken out on you. But of course this is the religion of peace.

    The reality is that you can offer whatever criticism you like about Christianity , you can say what you like about Christianity and you can freely mock Christianity in the most extreme way. It happens all the time including to some extent on this website.

    What is always interesting is that those engaging in that activity wll not dare do the same in respect of Islam.

    As for Sherry Rehman, she better stay well clear of Pakistan now if she knows what is good for her. A “women” formally accused of blasphemy in an extremist Islamic country is about as bad as it can get IMHO.

  14. Remember, the only reason that the Christian rightwing have not created such blasphemy laws today, or no longer enforce them, is because of the secular Enlightenment period that the West enjoyed starting about 400 years ago. We are a nation founded upon the Enlightenment, in converse Christianity and the bible which just seeks to impose theocratic beliefs and biblical law on society, as they did 500 years ago.

  15. What did Reagan say? “We don’t understand th irrationality of Mid East politics”. He was right then and I think it resonates today as much as ever. We live in a world where govts are exposed for evil more and more, religious zealots, totalitarians etc. Somehow people are surprised when a corrupt dictatorship does things the West doesn’t agree with. Obviously I do not condone what is happening to this poor woman, but how much different is it than Obama claiming the right to execute anyone he chooses on his say so alone. A fair juxtaposition if you ask me.

  16. churches claim that president obama is in THE BIBLE, THE PROMISED LAND MUST BE THE UNITED STATES. that would totally screw the president up. would god give him a second chance… the president took an oath to protect the united states against all enemies foreign, and domestic, twice. religions spoke against the president.

    the other politicians are making laws against GOD according to the blasphemers.
    so how does ones one get rid of the antichrists that THE BIBLE says are supposed to hang themselves, and if do not hang them selves they are supposed be killed, which they claim is also written and they teach. Revelation 2 discusses this briefly… to commit fornication is screwing some one no matter how you do it, is written…, the fornicators will come forward.

    Revelation is the coming of GOD, not God or god.
    keeping in mind that when JESUS said that when HE comes again, that HE will be the true SON OF GOD should have been written as: THE SON OF THE TRUE GOD. people will better understand king james versions of Revelation chapter 22, verses 18 and 19 knowing who satan is.
    every religion is written with the same m.o. … there will be no deal. that is written as people will not test GOD. to test GOD is as simple as to fall silent, or to take the NAME of GOD in vane to teach other than what comes from MY own mouth, and the world will see these words with their very eyes all over the world. (THE COMPUTER)

    three task were given to save… and they are the beginning.

    1 close all religions
    2 permit without question all safe abortions.
    3 allow same sex marriages.

    so every president in the world is looking at the PROMISED LAND. it is written that all the world will be looking at THE PROMISED LAND.
    these are some of the things that have been changed and abused by nations.

    and the antichrists are watching the aflac duck who broke his beak get force fed through its knows, with the curtain closed. and satan is laughing!

    what car is parked at the bottom of the hill, with its blinker on, waiting for its parking space!

    so think about it! you asked. and you received. JESUS said HE was the way to THE FATHER WHO KNOWS and, will keep you on the straight and narrow which predates the creation of the present day universe.

    so you see why it says that THE PROPHET will cause great turmoil AND CHALLENGE EVERYTHING.

  17. Catholics filed complaints against a fellow in the largest democracy on Earth and he was prosecuted:

    Sanal Edamaruku is a world-renowned author and rationalist currently facing a maximum sentence of three years in prison plus fines for criticizing the Catholic Church. As president of the Indian Rationalist Association, he is a fixture on Indian television where he provides a skeptical view about alleged miracles and paranormal claims. In 2012 Edamaruku investigated what was being called a miracle: a crucifix dripping water at Our Lady of Velankanni Church in Mumbai. He quickly discovered the dripping was actually caused by water seeping through the wall onto the crucifix. Edamaruku reported his results on TV-9 and criticized the Catholic Church for “creating” the so-called miracle and being “anti-science.” In response, the church demanded an apology and its supporters filed official complaints against Edamaruku. He was charged with violating 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code, also known as the “blasphemy law,” which prohibits “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.” His lawyers are arguing that the law infringes on free speech and are requesting the courts declare the law unconstitutional. Meanwhile, he was refused bail and fled to Europe. In this interview he speaks about his work, his family, the criminal charges, and the dangers of the “blasphemy law.”

    (The Humanist, emphasis added).

  18. someone please explain to me.. HOW THEY FIGURED THAT GOD IS A HE?

    we are all made in the image!!! from what i think and have learned from all this reading and studying.. GOD is genderless it is a higher power of each and every individuals understanding… with that being said there are whole books and passages that were removed from the original bible by po-lie-trickers (politicians) and clergy removed for their own nefarious purposes of course and the ones left in are swtiched around with lines removed or placed in other sections… such as the “book of enoch” no one has ever seen GOD. and the description given in the bible doesnt impress me… take a real good look at the last supper. that person sitting on Jesus right (my left) leaned away from him and looking down and sad is NOT A MAN. which is why the catholic church along with idiotic foolish islamic clerics HATE WOMEN and do all they can to keep them down…

  19. American blasphemy laws, such as that of Oklahoma, are/were aimed at suppressing speech concerning insults to people’s religious beliefs that incites them to violence. That no Christian should react with violence to having his/her faith insulted does not mean that some will not respond with violence.
    Mohammedans (which term is considered by some an insult) on the other hand are required by their “holy” books to forcibly defend their religion against anything perceived as offensive. Discussion, even polite and academic, as to the falsity of their prophet or the religion he and his successors invented is not to be tolerated. Mohammedans who fail to do their best to bring punishment upon anyone who denies their religious beliefs may also be treated as unfaithful.

  20. David Blauw, would you please explain:

    I can understand that loyal Democrats keep voting Democrat after they are dead, but why do loyal Republicans switch to voting Democrat after they die?

    Some years ago I was at the rededication of a cemetery in New Market, Alabama abandoned for many years. The Democrat politician who presided apologized for the local Democrat officials letting the cemetery where so many of their most reliable Democrat voters were interred go to ruin. He siad this in a joking manner but I don’t think he really was joking!!!

  21. “Some years ago I was at the rededication of a cemetery in New Market, Alabama abandoned for many years. The Democrat politician who presided apologized for the local Democrat officials letting the cemetery where so many of their most reliable Democrat voters were interred go to ruin. He siad this in a joking manner but I don’t think he really was joking!!!”


    If you really believe what you said above you are frankly an idiot.

  22. Anonymously Yours: “The fundies of anything are sick people by definition…,. They have no balance…. Sans religion….”

    Does this apply to the enviroreligion? The guvmint religion?

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