Monday, May 29, 2017

Blasphemy and Islam

Hey, if you can get past the "please register to read" pester screen (I did, eventually), there's a really good article up at Foreign Policy "The Islamic World Has a Blasphemy Problem". 

As the article notes (various extracts follow):

Blasphemy charges have steadily risen in the last decade in Indonesia and have a near 100 percent conviction rate. Meanwhile, across the Muslim world, there has been an uptick in blasphemy charges and prosecutions in recent years. Blasphemy has been spiritedly revived in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011. In 2001, there was only one blasphemy trial in Pakistan, but now there are dozens each year. There has been a steady drip of attacks and murders of bloggers and writers in Bangladesh in the last five years, along with a deadly mass protest in 2013 demanding the death penalty for blasphemy....

The use of the charge ranges from the nominal to the horrifying. Since 2016, the Egyptian poet Fatima Naoot has been serving a three-year prison sentence for criticizing the slaughter of animals during Eid al-Fitr on Facebook. A Malaysian man was charged with blasphemy for posing questions to his religion teachers. Even the mere accusation of blasphemy poses the threat of violence: In 2015, an Afghan woman was beaten and murdered by a mob in Kabul after arguing with a mullah, and last month, a Pakistani university student was killed by a mob over allegations, later discredited, of posting blasphemous content on social media....

“As far back as the 1750s, the Saudi polity really was based on religion and specifically Wahhabism [the puritanical, literalist strain of Islam founded in 18th-century Arabia],” said Kamran Bokhari, a senior analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Due to a pact between the Saudi royal family and the preacher Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in 1744, Wahhabism is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia. “Wahhabism is, truly, all about blasphemy. What is true Islam and what is not,” Bokhari said. “Really, to them, most Muslims who don’t subscribe to their exacting views are committing blasphemy in some way or another.”

Modern Islamic countries, meanwhile, have accrued their blasphemy laws not as a medieval inheritance but through one of two major routes: as leftovers of European colonialism or as products of the 20th-century “Arabization” of the Muslim world in the model of the Gulf states.
It goes on to point out that, ironically, British colonialism introduced blasphemy laws in India and Malaysia to help with interfaith stability. 

Anyway, it's a good read, if somewhat depressing for the lack of any grounds for optimism that its political use will not stop in Muslim countries any time soon.

1 comment:

not trampis said...

all 'moderate' Islam nations.

Very worrying and a compliant judiciary makes it worse.