The blasphemy laws in Pakistan have often given rise to heated debate, and for good reason, considering the case of Muhammad Asghar, a British citizen, who has been sentenced to death for claiming to be a prophet. He reportedly sent letters in 2010 to various people stating this, which led to his arrest and even admitted it in court to the judge.

But before we condemn this man, we should ask ourselves why would anyone go to such lengths to insult people knowing that his life would be forfeit? No sane man would do such a thing. Which is exactly what the problem is. Mr. Asghar, a 70-year-old dual citizen of both Pakistan and the UK has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic which means that he suffers from delusions, hallucinations, apathy and a host of other symptoms. He is clinically insane. That means that he is not in control of what comes out of his mouth. The disease is horrific and tragic and can be treated, but never cured.

The rationale behind the exclusion of the insane from the legal system is predicated on the idea that those that suffer from mental illnesses cannot differentiate right from wrong and hence should not be held to the same standard as other citizens who can weigh the consequences of their actions. Delusions of grandeur are all too common for schizophrenics. Muhammad Asghar is not callously defying the law and hurting people’s sentiments for kicks; he is acting on compulsions we can never understand.

With regards to the law itself, there is never any clarity as to when the line has been crossed, and blasphemy committed. What is blasphemy? For if we try and make sense of this law, all religions inherently oppose each other. Each claims to hold the key to the universal truth. By that fact alone they are technically refuting other belief systems and trying to negate them. Is Pakistan really a country that does not recognize the rights of minorities to live? Masood Ahmed from the Ahmedi community was jailed recently as well, because he was seen as an imposter who was pretending to be a Muslim. The people who found him out asked him to recite a verse of the Quran, and took a video. Does that not qualify as entrapment? The cases of Muhammad Asghar and Rimsha Masih have only revealed the extent of problems associated with this law. Maybe it is time we start taking account of all the miscarriages of justice that have been carried out and think of reforming something that is clearly not achieving what it was meant to.