Islamabad, December 10 2010: The Jinnah Institute calls for an end to impunity for the cleric who has announced head money for anyone who kills Aasia Bibi, the Christian mother of five, who was sentenced to death by a district court on November 8 for allegedly committing blasphemy.
Maulana Yusuf Qureshi, a cleric at the Mohabat Khan mosque in Peshawar, announced a reward of Rs. 500,000 for anyone who kills Aasia Bibi during his sermon last Friday. Qureshi said that “We expect her to be hanged and if she is not hanged then we will ask the mujahideen and the Taliban to kill her.” He also said that the money would be paid out of the mosque’s fund. Aasia Bibi is currently in jail and waiting for hearings of her appeal against her death sentence in the Lahore High Court.
Qureshi warned the Government that any change to the Blasphemy Laws would have serious consequences. He said: “No president, no parliament and no government has the right to interfere in the tenets of Islam. Islamic punishment (according to Muslim jurisprudence) will be implemented at all costs.”
Sherry Rehman, MNA and President of Jinnah Institute, said, "allowing any open incitement to murder in the name of protecting religion must stop right now. The state must retain its monopoly on the use of force, and penalties under the law, no one else. Letting Qureshi flout the justice system is also tantamount to challenging the jurisdiction of the courts, and due notice must immediately taken to penalize such actions."
Ali Dayan Hasan, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch and Member of the Board of Advisors at the Jinnah Institute said, “This is brazen incitement to violence and murder. The full force of the law should apply and Qureshi should be held accountable.”
The Jinnah Institute Caucus on Blasphemy Laws condemned Qureshi’s incitement to murder and calls for an end to vigilante justice. The Lahore High Court should conduct Aasia Bibi’s appeal with regard to due process in order to give her fair trial. The JI caucus also called for amendments to the Blasphemy Laws in accordance with the Amendments to the Blasphemy Laws Bill 2010 presented in the National Assembly.