Murder thy name is “blasphemy”

by | May 1, 2015

The Star has reported that yet another murder has been committed in Karachi.  This time the victim was an academic named Waheed ur Rehman.  The Star report states that:

Tausif Ahmed Khan, the former head of the mass communication department at Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology in Karachi, said that Rehman had no disputes with anyone. However, he said, Rehman had completed his doctorate under a liberal Muslim scholar who was shot to death in September after being accused of blasphemy.

So now to be a candidate for murder one need only have been taught by someone who was themselves murdered for blasphemy.  Oh, I’m sure there was more to it.  I’m sure Rehman annoyed someone, somewhere of his own effort.  What University professor…indeed what person anywhere….has managed to avoid annoying one or two people from time to time?

The murder of an academic should upset and anger scholars around the world; certainly here in Canada it should be sending them to their keyboards to call for an end to blasphemy laws here and everywhere.  An end to Canada’s blasphemy law might be a sensible first start to safe-guarding their own lives.

Of course, academics are not the only persons being murdered for blasphemy, Sabeen Mahmud was a secularist and human rights advocate who was murdered only days ago in Karachi.  She was a founder of The Second Floor, an organization with this statement on their website:

Since our inception in 2007, we have hosted hundreds of events, ranging from poetry readings and film screenings, to vibrant debates on critical issues. We have contributed to revitalizing Karachi’s cultural landscape and have provided an alternative, independent, safe space for discourse.

How achingly similar is that website and its messages to Centre For Inquiry Canada’s.  An elegant “Bring Your Brain” icon adorns the upper left corner of the homepage; there are pictures of shelves of books and people gathered in peaceful learning; with their alternate identity of “PeaceNiche”….what is to be seen there but a small group of people striving for learning and a better community?  Who was Ms. Mahmud than myself in a different and far more dangerous setting?

This is the reward for academics and humanitarians?  Murder by thugs and idiots?!

Well perhaps I can close with a quote I borrowed from the blasphemy page of Wikipedia and is apparently attributed to Thomas Aquinas:

[if] we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one’s neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one’s neighbor, than blasphemy does to God.

Even this grudging and sinister little sentiment approaches the truth.  Murder certainly does much more harm than blasphemy ever did anybody.  My question…if any scholar, politician, human rights advocate or indeed any person has understood that it requires as little as a word or two to cause an attack on their very lives by an individual, group or government…how is it that these people aren’t actively repudiating Canada’s blasphemy law?

Canada and Canadians should be leading.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice and your MP need to hear from you.


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