|Supporters of various religious parties demand punishment for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam, at a rally in Lahore on December 24, 2010.|
Pakistan Christian Post Reports:
Islamabad: March 30, 2012. (PCP) A prominent Pakistani Christian playwright Adeel Salman will present a stage drama “295 C - A play about the inhuman 'Blasphemy Law' in Pakistan”
295 C is a play about the inhuman 'Blasphemy Law' in Pakistan. This law mainly targets minorities and so far Christians have been its prime victims.
The law itself states that "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..."
The play aims to create awareness about this inhuman law whose practice is constantly targeting the minorities.
Adeel Salman is a playwright from Pakistan. He is the first Pakistani playwright who has written original plays in English for the Pakistani audience.
His previous works include Ashbeel, The Unforgiven, Identity, Millie & Mo, Hope, One Blood etc. He is the recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. He is the first Pakistani and first Pakistani Christian to have graduated with an MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence.
295-C is a work of fiction built around actual historical events. It focuses on the ‘Blasphemy Law’ in Pakistan. The law stands in clear violation of human rights as secured by the UN. In 1927, the British colonial rulers of the sub-continent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief”. The law then did not discriminate between religions. The law was retained when Pakistan gained independence in 1947 under the rule of the country’s moderate founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Ten blasphemy cases were reportedly heard in court in the 58 years between 1927 and 1985. The death penalty for anyone found guilty of defaming Islam was introduced in 1986 and since then more than 4,000 cases have been handled. More than fifty percent of these were non-Muslims, who represent only 3% of the national population. No judicial execution for blasphemy has ever occurred in Pakistan, but more than eighty percent of those charged were murdered by the fundamentalist muslim majority.
The most recent victim of this law’s brutality being Aasia bibi who was accused blasphemy in 2009. She has not been released despite international pressure and is in police custody where she is reported to be tortured and humiliated constantly. Her family lives in constant fear of their lives and has been attacked many times
People supporting a victim of blasphemy law are also met with similar fate. The then Governor of Lahore Salman Taseer supported her case and appealed to the government on her behalf for pardon. The Governor was shot dead on January 4th, 2011 by his own security guard who shot him 23 times and later was hailed as a hero who killed a supporter of the infidel (Aasia bibi). The advocacy work was continued by the then Minister of Minority Affairs, Shabaz Bhatti. He was also shot dead by Muslim extremists on March 2nd, 2011. Federal Minister for Information Sherry Rehman raised her voice in support of Aasia Bibi, but due to the radical opposition including death threats from the Muslim majority, she had to resign from her position.
At present the situation in Pakistan is extremely volatile. Anyone found guilty of blasphemy or supporting the decision to amend this law is met with dire threats to their life including the playwright himself.