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.