Blasphemy Laws map
Civilized countries are marshalling forces to push back against high profile Islamic State atrocities and persecution against religious minorities such as Christians, Yazidis, and Muslim sects. Lesser known is the persecution of religious minorities in established countries using anti-blasphemy laws. Pew Research reports countries as diverse as Greece, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Iran have prosecuted, fined, and jailed their own countrymen for blasphemy, usually defined as remarks or actions considered to be contemptuous of God. By far the epicenter of this persecution is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan where 96% of its 180 million people are Muslim. We have also have initiated efforts in the Persian Gulf and Black Sea Region.
Blasphemy cases around the world can be counted by the handful but in Pakistan the National Commission for Justice and Peace reports 633 Muslims, 494 Ahmadis, 187 Christians, and 21 Hindus have been charged since 1987. While other countries have handed out relatively small fines and short sentences, in Pakistan those found guilty of the most serious blasphemy charges of defiling the Quran face a life sentence (§295B) or of derogatory remarks defiling Muhammad face the death penalty (§295C). There are currently 19 prisoners serving life terms and 14 on death row. Fifty of the accused have been murdered before trial and over sixty have been murdered just based on an allegation. In 2012 a Christian town was attacked over a blasphemy charge and 160 homes, 18 businesses, and 2 churches were burned. The effect has been chilling on the country’s minority Christian, Hindu, and Ahmadi communities who already suffer from educational, housing, and employment discrimination.