A 70-year old, British-Pakistani, who was a schizophrenic since 2010, traveled to Pakistan to meet family and friends and to settle a property feud. One may presume he must have developed some dispute with the people he was dealing with, because he was arrested, while returning from Umrah. He was charged with having written letters claiming to be a prophet; he was indicted in a blasphemy case. As expected the lower courts couldn’t resist public pressure and sentenced him to death. His lawyer was not allowed to submit the medical reports proving him mentally ill, with an illness which causes the patient to believe they are famous or wealthy and sometimes think that they have supernatural abilities.

He couldn’t be hanged due to moratorium on the death sentences. Few weeks back an armed policeman shot him in his cell. Police had to run from hospital to hospital to save him from further attacks. His UK-based family has been trying to raise a voice against his sentence; his daughter met the British Prime Minister David Cameron and handed over a petition to secure her father’ release and return.

It is needless to talk about Cameron’s reaction on awarding of death sentence to a mentally ill person. But is this not the time to introspect why since independence very few blasphemy cases have been reported? Then when a military dictator made radical changes in the law in the 80s, leading to an upsurge of such cases? How come Muslims have been implicated in blasphemy cases? Let alone the many poor from religious minorities; how come the accused fail to find a lawyer, as lawyers are threatened and killed in cold blood. How come no other Muslim country has this kind of law or situation? Are we a different breed, different type of humans or are we suffering from delusions?


Saudi Arab, October 22.