Friday, 7 January 2011

What is the true Blasphemy here?

The assassination, or murder, of libaral Pakistani Governor Salman Taseer brings to mind a debate I had at the Islam apologist site Loonwatch.
Taseer was trying to amend Pakistan's egregious blasphemy laws: the laws under which a Christian lady was sentenced to death.[1] For that he was riddled with bullets [one, of many reports, here]

Loonwatch is an Islam apologist site which ran an article attempting to show that death for apostasy in Islam is not mandated and that to claim it is, is pure ignorance and Islamophobia. I took them on over their claim, with evidence both from doctrine and practice.
Quick-witted will notice that my debate with Loonwatch was over Apostasy, while the murder of Taseer was over Blasphemy. 
Well..... yes......and no.... as Blackadder said to Baldrick ("Head"). 
The fact is, that in Islam apostasy is a form of blasphemy, so you're caught anyway.
Further: would it matter anyway if the two were different?  Surely the very thought that either one, blasphemy or apostasy, should be punished at all, let alone by death, should be a thought waaaay to far for anyone in a sane and civilised society to contemplate?
But, you may object, it's only a small group of extremists that are pushing for the death penalty, isn't it?  And isn't the assassin, the murderer, just a part of that small extremist group?
Well, no, and no.
The blasphemy law exists already, so it's part of Pakistani law applying to its 185 million people. The law is popular, from what we can see of the support for the murderer. And yet again -- as with virtually all the other atrocities done in the name of Islam-- we see nary a sign, nary a squeak from the alleged moderate majority. The opposite, in fact: it won't be surprising to see Muslims worrying aloud about a "backlash" against them for Taseer's murder. You saw it here first.
And as for broader attitudes in Islamic societies, look at the Pew poll of April-May this year, just recently reported in the Los Angeles Times (here).

According to the survey, majorities in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria would favour changing current laws to allow stoning as a punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft and death for those who convert from Islam to another religion. About 85% of Pakistani Muslims said they would support a law segregating men and women in the workplace.

Pew Research did not ask specifically about views on the death penalty for blasphemy.  But can we doubt that people who support stoning and amputations would feel equally strongly that the blasphemer should be out to death?  Certainly the crowds out in favour of the murderer would give support to that view.  So strong is the support on the streets for the existing death for blasphemy law, and he who murdered in its defense, that even the BBC is reporting it on World Service radio. Not even the Beebs can turn its usually blind (to Islam) eye to the truly shocking: the brutal murder of a man who wanted to make Pakistan just a little more civilized.

There's no getting away from it. In Islam there's both doctrine and practice -- supported by large majorities (NOT "tiny minorities of extremists") -- which mandate violent and barbaric penalties for acts that would not even rise to misdemeanor in the west.

That's the true blasphemy here.  The true barbarism.

[1] Pakistani Governor Assassinated; Opposed Blaspheny Law; supported Asia Bibi.  Catholic Online, 5 Jan 2010.   ‘Asked about the events which gave rise to the death sentence [Bibi’s husband] told NBC news, "She was picking berries with other women, when she was sent to get water. One of the women refused to drink the water after my wife dipped her cup into the bucket. This woman said it was contaminated because it was touched by a Christian….  all the women started taunting his wife and shouting insults against her mother and their children. Bibi just repeated the same insults back at them. "The name of the holy prophet never came up. Five days later, the local cleric came to our house, followed by an angry mob, and dragged my wife away," he said, recalling the incident that took place in June 2009.’ .  [Ref].