Home Latest News Senate Calls for ‘Strict’ Action against False Allegations of Blasphemy

Senate Calls for ‘Strict’ Action against False Allegations of Blasphemy

Senators condemn Lahore incident of woman harassed for wearing clothes with Arabic calligraphy

by Staff Report

File photo of Pakistan Senate

Senator on Tuesday demanded strict action against anyone found levelling false allegations of blasphemy, as they condemned the harassment of a woman in Lahore for wearing clothes with Arabic calligraphy.

On Sunday, a mob gathered outside a shop in Lahore’s Ichra Bazaar after someone alleged a woman—who shirt had the Arabic word ‘halwa’ printed on it—was wearing clothing with Quranic verses printed on it. After trapping the woman in a shop, the mob demanded police charge her with blasphemy. The situation risked spiraling when a police team led by Gulberg Circle Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Syeda Shehr Bano Naqvi calmed down tempers, and placed the woman under protective custody at the police station. Subsequently, police released a video showing the woman apologizing to religious scholars for her inadvertent “mistake.”

The incident went viral on social media with Pakistanis condemning the incident, appreciating the ASP’s swift action, and decrying the police “forcing” the woman to apologize when none was necessary. Taking up the matter, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rubina Khalid described as “utter ignorance” some people’s inability to differentiate between Quranic verses and Arabic letters. “If the police had not reached on time the mob would have done something worse,” she warned and called for a debate on the matter to prevent such incidents from recurring.

“Why was she made to record a public apology for something she didn’t do?” she continued, noting the shirt that had incited the crowd was of a clothing brand based in Saudi Arabia. “It is fine there, but here women are harassed in the name of religion,” she regretted, stressing there was a great difference between ignorance and respecting Islam.

The ASP, however, clarified that the apology video was recorded with the woman’s consent and was important for the long-term safety of the woman.

“What kind of a Muslim is someone who cannot identify between a Quranic verse and a simple Arabic word?” Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan Senator Faisal Subzwari echoed Khalid in the Senate. “And what kind of a Muslim is someone who, despite knowing how to read Arabic, makes false accusations against someone?” he continued, stressing false blasphemy allegations were the worst form of disrespect.

“This is a huge problem, I wish the House could have completed legislation over the misuse of blasphemy laws,” he said, referring to a proposed law that was scuttled by the then-PTI-led government after it came into power. “Who is at fault here? Who is defaming the religion? Is it that woman or is it the people who despite reading the letters falsely accused her?” he asked.

Sabwari noted that false blasphemy allegations had left the public fearful and were presenting a poor image of a religion that represents peace and love. “Every Muslim, not just religious scholars, has the right to speak about the religion they follow,” he added.

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