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Malaysia’s government says it will re-educate ex-Muslims who took part in an atheist meeting.

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The National Secular Society reports.

Malaysia targets ex-Muslims over viral atheist photo.

Malaysia’s government says it will re-educate ex-Muslims who took part in an atheist meeting after a photo of the event went viral.

A minister has also said that anyone found spreading atheist ideas could be prosecuted.

Last week the Kuala Lumpur consulate of Atheist Republic, a global support group for atheists, held its annual conference. The group posted a photo of the gathering on Facebook and said it “was such a blast”.

The image spread quickly, including on several Islamist blogs and sites. Malaysia’s deputy minister who oversees religious affairs said the government would investigate the group to find out if any “Muslims” were involved in the meeting.

“If it is proven that there are Muslims involved in atheist activities that could affect their faith, the state Islamic religious departments could take action,” said Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.

He said the government would take a “soft approach” to dealing with the issue. He said ex-Muslims who took part in the gathering would be given counselling. “Perhaps they are ignorant of the true Islam, so we need to engage them and educate them on the right teachings,” he added.

Atheist Republic’s founder, Armin Navabi, said the atheists were being “treated like criminals”. “Who are they harming?!” he asked in a Facebook post.

Many social media users also called for the imprisonment or death of those involved in the meeting. “If they refuse to repent we burn them alive,” wrote one. “An apostate’s blood is halal for slaughter.”

READ: Malaysian Muslims openly talk about killing fellow Malaysian atheists—whom their government just announced it is actively targeting.

This is the reality for those who leave Islam. We speak a lot here in the West about anti-Muslim bigotry, which is real and abhorrent. But it pales in comparison to Islamic bigotry, which gives license to its followers to murder those who dare to think for themselves, outside of Islam.

Ex-Muslims, who still have Muslim names and share ethnicities and nationalities with other Muslims, are targeted by both. Read and share.

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This story has been widely reported:  Malaysian atheist group under investigation over alleged Muslim apostate members (Independent).

Targeting atheists will ruin moderate image, Malaysia told.  BY ZURAIRI AR (Malay Mail)

 A hard-line is emerging. Atheists in Malaysia should be hunted down, minister says. BY KAMLES KUMAR Malay Mail.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Atheists in Malaysia should be “hunted down” by authorities as there is no place for groups like this under the Federal Constitution, a minister said today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the public should aid authorities in locating groups like the Kuala Lumpur chapter of Atheist Republic so that action could be taken.

“The (Federal Constitution) does not mention atheists. It goes against the Constitution and human rights.

“I suggest that we hunt them down vehemently and we ask for help to identify these groups,” he said in a press conference at Parliament today.

The Arau MP added that most of these Malaysians especially Muslims turn into atheists as they lack religious education.

“They actually don’t want to be atheists but it happens because of the lack of religious education. They are misled with a new school of thought,” Shahidan said.

He also urged religious groups especially the muftis to help educate Muslims who have become atheists.

“We need to return them to the faith and correct their aqidah if they are Muslims. To all Mufti’s and state exco’s, take note,” Shahidan stressed.

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

August 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Tunisia: Protests at enforcement of Religious Law as 4 get 1 month prison for eating in public during Ramadan.

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RAMADAN

“We are not forced”: Tunisian campaign against making everybody obey religious law during Ramadan. 

Tunisians get jail terms for eating during Ramadan

A court in northern Tunisia handed one-month jail terms Thursday to four men for eating in public during the Muslim dawn-to-dusk fasting month of Ramadan, a spokesman said.

The four had been “eating and smoking in a public garden, a provocative act during Ramadan”, which started last week, Chokri Lahmar, prosecution spokesman at the court in Bizerte, told AFP.

He said the four men had 10 days to appeal against their one-month sentences before the terms take effect.

Their sentencing, which followed complaints from other local residents, comes ahead of a call circulated on social media for a June 11 demonstration to protect the rights of those who decline to take part in the Ramadan fast.

Although the state has the role of “guardian of religion” under the constitution, Tunisia has no specific law banning eating in public during Ramadan, a controversy which resurfaces each year in the North African country.

Most restaurants and coffeeshops remain shut in Tunisia during daylight hours over the holy month, but some establishments open behind closed curtains to prevent customers from being seen.

More in LibérationQuatre Tunisiens condamnés à un mois de prison pour avoir mangé en public pendant le ramadan.

There is a campaign in Tunisia to respect the rights of those who refuse  to fast during Ramadan and against the (forced) closure of cafés and restaurants during the day to make people conform to religious ‘law’.

#MouchBessif: La campagne qui appelle au respect des libertés des non-jeûneurs.

A Collectif pour la défense des libertés individuelles, bringing together a number of ONGs, states that this enforcement of religious obligations on everybody is an attack on personal freedoms and  contrary to Tunisia’s constitution.

A demonstration is planned on Sunday the 11th of June.

More background in Huffpost Tunisie: Fermeture de cafés et restaurants durant ramadan: La société civile tunisienne se mobilise.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 2, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Glory to the Martyrs! We won’t forget the Palm Sunday massacres! Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists.

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Image result for attack on copts socialist

Glory to the martyrs
We won’t forget al-Qaddisayn
We won’t forget Maspero
We won’t forget Peter and Paul
We won’t forget Arish
We won’t forget the Palm Sunday massacres

YET ANOTHER bloody holiday for the Copts of Egypt. Once again churches are bombed and dozens of churchgoers are killed on a religious holiday. Once again the corpses of Copts lie with the debris of their icons and what is left of their churches. Once again, al-Sisi’s regime, its military rule and its police state fail to protect Coptic lives and churches.

Al-Sisi took power promising the Copts of Egypt that the days of fear, terror and sectarian violence were gone, and his regime would protect them from dark terrorism. Here we are in the fourth year since the coup, the third year of Sisi’s presidency, and the last four months alone saw the bombing of the Peter and Paul church, the killings and displacements of Christians in Arish and the two latest massacres in Tanta and Alexandria.

When a terrorist was allowed to go inside the Peter and Paul church and blow it up, the Coptic youth raged at the flagrant security failings and demanded the sacking of the interior minister. But al-Sisi intervened to prevent any talk of failings and naturally did not sack his interior minister. And now terrorists were able to attack a church barely a week after a bomb was discovered outside that same church! Here the security failings and the lack of accountability have become complicity with the crime.

We must remember that the few weeks before the January 2011 revolution saw large demonstrations of Coptic youths against the burning and bombing of their churches and the complicity of the security services. One sign of the political bankruptcy of the Mubarak regime was the abhorrent sectarian “deal” that counted on the Coptic Church to support the regime and contain the anger of Copts while giving free reign to the sectarian agitation of al-Azhar and the Salafists. Mubarak’s state was a particularly sectarian one, and al-Sisi’s state is based on the same sectarian principle.

The January 2011 revolution shattered this sectarian “deal” and saw, for the very first time in modern Egyptian history, unity between the Christian and Muslim masses, not around hollow nationalist slogans like “Religion is for God and the Nation is for everyone,” or police-sponsored superficial alliances between the Coptic and Muslim religious leaders, but around a common revolutionary struggle for democracy, freedom and social justice.

But this unique revolutionary moment did not last long. The Muslim Brotherhood betrayed the revolution by siding with the Military Council (SCAF), which exploited sectarianism and inflamed it with the Maspero massacre. The secular opposition has also allied itself with the military to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood, paving the way for al-Sisi’s 2013 coup.

Al-Sisi restored the bases of the Egyptian sectarian state and re-established the very sectarian and securitarian deals that Mubarak’s regime had set up; the Copts are once again paying the price with their blood. The security services’ incompetence and complicity are only part of the picture, and we must of course join the Coptic youths when they demand that the interior minister be sacked and put on trial for criminal negligence.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BUT THE security failings are part and parcel of the political bankruptcy of the al-Sisi regime. Not only did the military rule and its security forces fail to protect the Copts and their churches, but this regime’s policies can only lead to more violence, bloodshed, terrorism and sectarianism. A regime that is based on tyranny, dictatorship and the suffocation of the political arena. A regime whose economic policies impoverish the majority for the sake of the same big businessmen who monopolized the country’s wealth in the Mubarak years and shared it with the generals. A regime that is based on sectarianism and uses the religious institutions, from the Coptic Church to al-Azhar Mosque, to gather support for the dictatorship. A regime that hasn’t made a single step to dismantle the systemic discrimination and persecution that the Coptic masses suffer, but on the contrary reinforces the discrimination and persecution, exploiting the sectarian card along with tyranny and repression in order to remain in power.

Once more, al-Sisi and the al-Azhar Imam will present their condolences to Pope Tawadros. And once more, they will talk of national unity and the evil plots against Egypt and other nonsense.

It is about time that we built an opposition that rejects all forms of sectarianism, be it coming from al-Sisi’s regime or groupings of political Islam. An opposition that doesn’t content itself with condemning terrorism and the terrorists and the failings and complicity of the security forces. An opposition that puts the struggle against sectarianism and the persecution of Copts at the center of its priorities.

Revolutionary Socialists.  (Egypt).

More from Socialist Worker (US).

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

Yasmin Rehman wins secularist of the year award.

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Yasmin Rehman: Secularist of the Year.

A courageous campaigner for human rights against religious intolerance Rehman’s award should be widely welcomed.

It is fitting that she chose her acceptance speech to commend two “personal heroines” comrades Maryman Namazie and Gita Sahgal, who like herself have had to face the hostility of obscurantist bigotry, sexism and ill-judged criticism from some quarters.

It is time that all the left stands with these women.

Yasmin Rehman named Secularist of the Year 2017 (National Secular Society).

The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year 2017 has been awarded to Yasmin Rehman, the secular campaigner for women’s rights.

Yasmin has spent much of the past two years to get the Government to recognise the dangers faced by ex-Muslims and Ahmadi Muslims from Islamic extremists. She has used her own home as a shelter for women at risk of domestic abuse.

Accepting the prize, Yasmin Rehman thanked the Society for recognising her work and said she was “incredibly humbled” to be nominated among other figures who were “personal heroines.”

She said there were two women, Maryman Namazie and Gita Sahgal, whom she couldn’t have campaigned without, and that she was “honoured” to stand beside them.

Secularism was not opposed to faith, she said, before describing how she had been shut down as ‘Islamophobic’ and “racist” despite being a Muslim herself. There is anti-Muslim sentiment in society, she said, but ‘Islamophobia’ was being used to silence and curtail speech.

Yasmin said she didn’t know if she could ever go back to Pakistan because of her work in the UK, while in the UK it was “impossible” to get funding for secularist work. She asked where women could possibly turn if they faced religiously-justified abuse. Muslim women were left with nothing but religious, sharia arbitration, while faith healing was spreading, with ill women being controlled by male relatives and religious leaders and told to pray instead of seeking medical treatment.

FGM and honour-based violence were being dismissed as “cultural”, while in fact polygamist and temporary marriages were Islamic practises, she said. There is a slippery road from this to child marriage, and there should be “no space” in the UK for these practises.

“Great powers within the community” were holding women back, and low rates of Muslim female employment could not be attributed entirely to discrimination by employers.

Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “I’m particularly pleased that this afternoon we have a secularist who is also a Muslim to present our prizes. She is living proof that secularism and Muslims can co-exist if given half a chance and co-founded British Muslims for Secular Democracy in 2006.”

Mr Sanderson described how secularism protected the rights of all and said it and democracy were “interdependent”.

Dr Michael Irwin kindly sponsored the £5,000 award. The award was presented by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She said: “The thing I find interesting and frightening at the moment is when I talk to young Muslims is how little they understand what secularism means.”

She said the Society’s most important work was in explaining what secularism meant for young people, particularly Muslims, and demonstrate that secularism was not atheism.

She warned of the growth of Muslim “exceptionalism” and that “universalism needs to be promoted.”

The Society was joined at the central London lunch event by previous winners of the prize including Maryam Namazie, who was the inaugural Secularist of the Year back in 2005. Peter Tatchell, who won the prize on 2012 also attended.

Turkish parliamentarian and 2014 Secularist of the Year Safak Pavey was unable to join the Society, but sent a message to attendees: “I wish I could be with you but we have the critical referendum approaching and we are very busy with the campaign. Each and every one of your shortlisted nominees is a very distinguished members of the secular society without borders.

“I wholeheartedly thank all of them for their courageous and precious contributions in defence and support of secularism and congratulate this year’s Secularist while looking forward to work together for our shared cause.”

Mr Sanderson praised her for working in “increasingly dangerous” circumstances to resist the Islamisation of Turkey.

Other campaigners were thanked for their work and Terry singled out Dr Steven Kettell, who was shortlisted for the prize, for his “excellent response” to the Commission on Religion and Belief in Public which had advocated expanding many religious privileges. Mr Sanderson thanked Dr Kettell for pointing out the many injustices that CORAB’s recommendations would have introduced, in his “excellent” report.

Scott Moore, the founder of Let Pupils Choose, was thanked for his campaign work. He said that, as an 18 year old, he had been campaigning for his entire adult life to separate religion and state, after religion was forced on him and taught as “absolute fact” during his childhood. He said the education system in Northern Ireland “robbed” pupils of their religious freedom. “All belief systems should be treated equally, but they are not.”

He was applauded for his hard-fought campaign work and Mr Sanderson said Moore gave him “hope for the future.”

Nominee Houzan Mahmoud spoke powerfully about the important of universal rights and freedoms.

Barry Duke, editor of the Freethinker, was given a lifetime achievement award for his commitment to free speech, LGBT rights and equality and resistance to censorship in apartheid South Africa.

The Society’s volunteer of the year was named, Sven Klinge, and thanked for the many occasions on which he has photographed NSS events.

Yasmin Rehman had been nominated, “for her advocacy of a secularist approach to tackling hate crime and promoting the human rights of women. She said, “I am incredibly honoured and humbled to be included in the list of nominees for this award particularly given the work being done across the world by so many brave and courageous people fighting against the hatred and violence being perpetrated by the religious Right of many faiths.”

Yasmin Rehman is a freelance consultant and doctoral candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Her area of research is polygamy and the law. She has worked for more than 20 years predominantly on violence against women, race, faith and gender, and human rights. Yasmin has worked for Local Government, the Metropolitan Police Service as Director of Partnerships and Diversity (2004-08) during which time she also held the Deputy national lead for forced marriage and honour based violence. Yasmin has most recently been commissioned as founding CEO of a race equality charity in East London, followed by Transforming Rehabilitation bid and now reviewing police responses to domestic abuse for national charities. Yasmin is currently member of the Board of EVAW (End Violence Against Women Coalition), an Independent Adviser for City of London Police and a member of the Centre for Secular Space.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

“Affaire Meklat” – Marcelin Deschamps, Racist, Homophobe, Anti-Semitic ‘Voice of the Banlieue.”

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Image result for affaire Mehdi Meklat

Mehdi Meklat “Voice of the Banlieue.”

Mehdi Meklat (more details here), who has written extensively  on Bondy Blog (set up to express “ la diversité ethnique and to be “la voix des quartiers”) who has contributed to France Inter and Arte, is the co-author of the books Burn Out and Minute, has been caught out.

 Meklat was promoted by French left outlets such as Les Inrockuptibles and has appeared on his cover with former Justice Minister  Christiane Taubira. The magazine presented him as the “voice of youth and the Estates, “a new generation from the banlieue.”

Following his latest promotion on the front cover of Les Inrockuptibles it has become public that he is the author of extreme racist, anti-semitic and homophobic – and just plain violent misogynistic gobshite  – on Twitter under the name of his ‘alter ego’, Deschamps (apparently a ‘funny’ play on the conceptual artist , has dominated the French media over the last week. (Affaire des tweets de Mehdi Meklat).

Le Monde devoted an Editorial to the affair (L’affaire Mehdi Meklat, révélatrice de deux sociétés qui ne se rencontrent pas. 22.2.017).

The daily noted the decline of open-minded humanist voices in the banlieue, and the growth of the ‘identitarian extreme-right, both indigenous, around the Front National,  and Islamist, in conditions of mass unemployment and social exclusion. In this instance Meklat revealed a  swelling tide of “la violence rhétorique”. It deplored the tolerance given in social media to far from “anodyne” verbal violence, which, experience showed,  can lead to more dangerous consequences.

More details: Le Monde,  Le chroniqueur Mehdi Meklat rattrapé par ses tweets haineux (21.02.17)

« Faites entrer Hitler pour tuer les juifs » (24 février 2012) ; « Je crache des glaires sur la sale gueule de Charb et tous ceux de Charlie Hebdo » (30 décembre 2012).

(Bring Hitler to kill the Jews. I gob phlegm in the dirty mug of Charb and all the Charlie Hebdo lot.)

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/0*v8Px6yFJQbVlphWg.

AS the re-tweet indicates he has a real problems with women, calling for sodomising them, amongst other vile comments.

The targets, as “Mr Hyde” Deschamps included: « les homos », « les juifs », « Charlie », « les transsexuels », « les Français », « les lesbiennes », « les femmes ».

Particularly women.

He, like many racists, homophobes and ‘left’ apologists for Islamism,  has a particular hatred of gay secularist Caroline Fourest, whom he has accused  of paedophilia.

Image result for Caroline FOurest Mehdi Meklat

Those who promoted this individual are having a hard time explaining this activity, which took place from 2011 to 2015, away.

 

 

The Fake ‘Secularism’ of Marine Le Pen.

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Image result for front national gens de couleur bougnoules

The Front National Has Changed!

Last year Marine Le Pen announced that he would ban “all religious symbols” including kippas, headscarves, veils, burqas and burkinis from public spaces if she is elected president, explaining the move as a “sacrifice” to combat Islamic extremism.”

On Thursday evening Marine le Pen was interviewed on France 2.

A full critical account of her statements is given in le Monde,  Etrangers, décret anti-immigration… Les affirmations trompeuses de Marine Le Pen dans « L’Emission politique »

But this is of special interest.

She reiterated the above commitment, extending the 2010 French law, which prohibits the full-body veil, the Burqa in public to anybody with  such ‘ostentatious’religious symbols or dress.

As many commentators have noted enforcing such legislation would invite a veritable “hunt” for those wearing religious symbols, in the front line, Muslim women wearing a variety of head scarves, veils, not to mention one religious groups that has Kippas…..

But as Jonathan Bouchet-Petersen in today’s Libération observes, (La laïcité de Marine Le Pen s’arrête aux portes de l’école, on the central issue of French secularism, the education system, the école publique, obligatoire, gratuite et laïque, Marine Le Pen strongly backed confessional private schooling. 

That is,

l’enseignement libre hors contrat, qu’elle entend largement favoriser au détriment de l’école publique. Or de quoi s’agit-il ? En premier lieu de l’enseignement catholique tendance Manif pour tous, qui se porte déjà bien, mais aussi des écoles juives, plus ou moins orthodoxes, ou bien sûr des établissements musulmans, plus ou moins salafistes.

Private education without state contracts (and controls)  which she intends to favour to the detriment of public state education. What is this? In the first instance, Catholic schooling, in the (hard line) line of the anti-Gay Marriage movement Manif pour Tous, but equally Jewish schools, more or less orthodox, and, naturally, Muslim institutions, more or less Salafist.

Some ‘secularist’.

This also raised eyebrows today  (Washington Post),

PARIS — French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has vowed to request all people with dual citizenship in France and other countries to choose only one nationality, except for Europeans and Russians.

She said this doesn’t mean foreigners would need to leave the country, explaining they can stay “as long as they respect French laws and values”.

Le Pen said she considers Russia to be part of the “Europe of nations.” In response to a specific question from a reporter on France 2 television Thursday night she said the measure would involve Israel, since it’s not a European country.

This is their Europe of Nations, give or take a degree of exaggeration:  France’s Nationalist Party Has a Plan to Break Up the Euro and Probably Start a New Financial Crisis  Jordan Weissmann (Slate),

Le Pen’s top economic adviser, Bernard Monot, outlined the plan to Bloomberg recently, and reportedly discussed it back in September with a governor from the Bank of France. The plot has three steps:

  1. Le Pen would call a meeting with the EU and ask it to replace the euro with brand-new national currencies. If it balked, France would go it alone.
  2. Le Pen would commandeer the French central bank, ending its independence.
  3. She would print “new French francs” to finance government spending.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the National Front is essentially threatening to suicide-bomb the whole EU monetary system.

At present  indications point to a Le Pen lead in the first round of the coming Presidential election, and a “Macron versus Le Pen” duel in the Second, with Macron the favourite, in the latest opinion polls, to win.

 

Les intentions de vote ne constituent pas une prévision du résultat du scrutin. Elles donnent une indication de l'état des rapports de force et des dynamiques au jour de la réalisation du sondage.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 10, 2017 at 11:52 am

Pakistan’s Missing Bloggers: Back Pakistani Protests.

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Pakistani rights activists hold images of bloggers who have disappeared, during a protest in Lahore on January 12. Photo: AFP

Pakistani Human Rights Protests for Missing Bloggers.  

The families of five missing Pakistani activists denounced what they called a “malicious” social media campaign accusing the men of blasphemy, a highly charged allegation that can have deadly consequences in Pakistan.

The five men had stood against religious intolerance and at times criticized Pakistan’s military. They all vanished within days of each other earlier this month.

No group has claimed responsibility for their abduction and security agencies have denied involvement.

Meanwhile, the blasphemy accusations against the activists have been multiplying on Facebook and Twitter, triggering a flood of threats.

More here.

Pakistanis active on social media were drawn to a poem written by Haider and published last July in Tanqeed (criticism), an e-zine he co-edits:

Right now the friends of my friends are being ‘disappeared’

Soon it will be my friends’ turn

And then mine …

When I become the file

That my father will bring to court hearings

Or the picture that my son will kiss when asked by a journalist

This sad story has yet to come to a conclusion.

Disappeared: Silencing Pakistan’s activists Al Jazeera.

Rights groups say blasphemy allegations against disappeared activists aim to silent dissent for good.

The issue of enforced disappearances is not new for Pakistan. Rights activists allege that there are thousands of people who have been “disappeared” by the state, with some allegedly killed while in custody. In December, the government’s Commission on Enforced Disappearances reported that the dead bodies of 936 missing persons had been found in Balochistan province alone since 2011.

The government denies any wrongdoing, and, in the case of the five activists currently missing, the interior ministry says it is “making every possible effort for [their] safe recovery”, according to a statement.

Now, however, these activists and citizens, as well as those calling for their release, face an even greater danger: They are being accused of blasphemy – a crime that carries a judicial death sentence and, increasingly commonly, the threat of extrajudicial murder by right-wing vigilantes.

Weaponising blasphemy’

“These [Facebook] pages … are extremely insulting to the Prophet, the Quran, Allah and Islam. They have made a joke out of this,” said Abdullah Cheema, a guest on a popular television news show on January 12. Cheema accused Goraya of running the Facebook pages in question, a charge denied by the activist’s family.

“Speaking in support of such criminals is a crime in itself,” said Cheema, while being encouraged by Orya Maqbool Jan, the show’s host and a well-known newspaper columnist.

“These blasphemers who they have captured, whoever has captured them, may Allah bless those people,” said Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a well-known Muslim leader in a sermon uploaded to YouTube on Jan 13.

“The bloggers’ disappearance is its own issue. They should definitely be produced, but no one should try and hide their crimes, and their crimes are so heinous that no one should … say that they suffered injustice,” said Aamir Liaquat, one of Pakistan’s most well-known talk show hosts on January 16.

Meanwhile, Facebook pages known for posting material in favour of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies have also taken up the cry.

“The group of atheists committing blasphemy on Facebook … have been defeated,” said a recent post by Pakistan Defence, a pro-military Facebook page that has 7.5 million likes and is run by anonymous administrators.

Insulting Islam’s prophet carries the death sentence in Pakistan, while defiling the Quran carries a life sentence. Blasphemy accusations have often been used to target minorities and to settle personal scores, rights groups say. Currently, there are 40 people on death row or serving life sentences for the crime in Pakistan, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

More worryingly, at least 68 people linked to blasphemy accusations have been killed by vigilantes or mobs since 1990, according a tally maintained by Al Jazeera. They have included those accused of blasphemy, their lawyers, their relatives, judges hearing their cases and members of their communities (PDF).

“Anyone even accused of blasphemy practically carries a death sentence even if they are [released],” says Zohra Yusuf, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), expressing her organisation’s “alarm” at the accusations being levelled at both the disappeared and those campaigning for their release.

Gul Bukhari, a Lahore-based rights activist, sees the campaign of accusations as aimed at silencing the campaign for the five men to be recovered.

Human Rights Watch.

The Pakistani government should urgently investigate the apparent abductions of four activists who campaign for human rights and religious freedom, Human Rights Watch said today. The four men, Salman Haider, a well-known poet and academic, and bloggers Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, and Ahmad Raza Naseer, went missing or were taken away from different cities between January 4 and January 7, 2017.

All four men were vocal critics of militant religious groups and Pakistan’s military establishment, and used the internet to disseminate their views. Their near simultaneous disappearance and the government’s shutting down of their websites and blogs raises grave concerns of government involvement. While the Pakistani interior minister, Nisar Ali Khan, directed the police on January 7 to speed up efforts to locate Haider, whom the government says it is not holding, a broader effort is needed to uncover the whereabouts and well-being of all four men.

“The Pakistani government has an immediate obligation to locate the four missing human rights activists and act to ensure their safety,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The nature of these apparent abductions puts the Nawaz Sharif government on notice that it can either be part of the solution or it will be held responsible for its role in the problem.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 26, 2017 at 11:59 am