Week 4: Villain – The Supreme Court of Pakistan

by Ray_North on January 26, 2014

villain_icon_v2This Week’s Villains are the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It is tempting to get all liberal and nicey-nicey about this and say how important it is to respect other people’s religion and other country’s laws – but, I’m sorry, regardless of how wonderful a country Pakistan is in many ways, I have no respect for a law that involves capital punishment for someone who is ill and has committed their ‘crime’ as a direct result of their illness; nor have I got a great deal of respect for a country that is able to pass a death sentence for a crime involving blasphemy, where offending someone’s religious sensibilities is the full extent of the harm committed.

Because that is what has happened this week in the special Court assembled at Rawalpindi, where a British man by the name of Mohammed Asghar was sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Asghar’s crime was that he was that he had in 2010 made claims to the be the prophet Mohammed – under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Asghar had committed a very serious offence and offence that carries the death penalty. Now, putting aside the whole massive issue of blasphemy and the even more massive issue of religion, Asghar is an ill man, having spent time in a mental institution in Glasgow where he was treated for Paranoid Schizophrenia – indeed since he has been in prison he has made an attempt on his own life and has continued to believe the delusion that he is a prophet sent from god.

In most countries where there is a fair and proper system of criminal justice, mental illness is a defence to offences involving specific intent (such as blasphemy), and, good mitigation in regards to all other offences – and this is right, because, quite simply, it is wrong to convict someone of an offence which they have clearly committed because they are suffering from an abnormality of the mind.

Sadly, tragically, the Supreme Court of Pakistan fuelled by the rising tide of religious intolerance has gone further than simply finding an ill person guilty of an offence, they have gone as far as to sentence that person to death.

It’s a terrible law, it’s a terrible case, it’s a villainous sentence. That is why the Supreme Court of Pakistan is this week’s villain.

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