Author Emily Dietle
My focus is on state-church separation & social issues. I'm an avid reader, and feel that one of our most valuable tools is the free movement of information and ideas. | @emilyhasbooks
Today marks the third annual International Blasphemy Rights Day. On this day, my thoughts turn to my pen-pal in Pakistan, the anonymous man that penned his personal tale earlier this year in ‘An Atheist Boy.’ This young man lives in the small town of his paternal family, as an open atheist. His father, also an atheist and humanist, was targeted before death by ‘extremists’ for his religious, social, and political views. Now, my pen-pal faces his own challenges as protests against a certain ‘blasphemous’ film mount.
Pakistani penal code XV outlines a range of crimes that are punishable by fines, imprisonment, or even death for so-called ‘blasphemy.’ When the protests in his town were at their beginning, and a band of angry men was searching for him, this “Atheist Boy” went to the tomb of his Grandfather, seeking refuge overnight. Two days passed by without hearing from him; Pakistan had blocked internet and mobile phone services.
To celebrate the freedom of expression that Blasphemy Day calls for, the ‘Atheist Boy’ visited graveside again, this time with a small container of beer (which is illegal) and in violation of Pakistani penal code XV:297 & 295-C. On this day, I choose to stand with my Pakistani pen-pal and ‘blaspheme’ whomever I choose, and I hope you join me. Be it ancient gods or goddesses, Prophets or priests, we should never be threatened with prosecution for ‘insulting’ them.
297- Trespassing on burial places, etc.:
Whoever, with the intention of insulting the religion of any person, or that the religion of any person is likely to be insulted thereby, … commits any trespass in any depository for the remains of the dead, …shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both.
295-C.Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet:
Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
To close, I’ll leave you with one more story from our ‘Atheist Boy’ and my friend from Pakistan. When he was much younger, our ‘blasphemer’ had dated a woman ten years his senior. She was the mother of two children, and during the time the two were dating, she was estranged from her husband, a government officer. Eventually, she returned to her spouse, their house being very near the home of our friend’s Mother.
As the ‘Atheist Boy’ tells the story: Once she and her husband went to a party in another city and left 12 year daughter alone at home. The daughter was scared, and ran to the home of boy’s mum. I was there alone, and was shocked to see her. We hugged, I comforted her, and she stayed the night at my mum’s home. In the morning, her dad and mum came home and were very happy to see their daughter safe.
Her dad asked what was the reason I didn’t do any thing [sexual] with her daughter? Disgusted, I replied that I’m not their holy prophet who married a nine year old baby. The girl’s father replied that every normal man can’t be a pedophile. He nearly reported me for blaspheming, a crime which is punishable by death.
Category: Atheism & Religion