Blas­phemy Law

Southasia - - Briefing -

Bangladeshi Prime Min­is­ter, Sheikh Hasina has re­jected de­mands by Is­lamists for a new anti-blas­phemy law to pu­n­ish those who of­fend Is­lam. The pre­mier views that the ex­ist­ing laws are enough to pe­nal­ize those who in­sult re­li­gion. The re­jec­tion comes days af­ter scores of sup­port­ers of an Is­lamist or­ga­ni­za­tion held a rally in Dhaka against cul­prits in­volved in blas­phemy. Hasina was of the view that since Bangladesh is a sec­u­lar democ­racy ev­ery­one has the right to prac­tice their re­li­gion.

In re­sponse to this re­fusal, the Is­lamist fac­tion has given the govern­ment a three-week win­dow to ac­cept their de­mands. The re­cent up­roar of the blas­phemy law is linked with the pro­ceed­ings of the war crimes tri­bunal. A group of blog­gers re­cently held a sit-in at Shah­bagh Square, Dhaka, de­mand­ing the death penalty for those in­volved in war crimes dur­ing 1971 and de­manded the ban on Ja­maat-e-Is­lami, the largest Is­lamic party in Bangladesh, which op­posed Bangladesh’s in­de­pen­dence in 1971. It was this protest that as­cended ten­sions as the mem­bers of the Is­lamist party termed the blog­gers non­be­liev­ers. The Prime Min­is­ter said that the govern­ment would look into the mat­ter and take ac­tion on de­mands that seem rea­son­able. More­over, Hasina de­fended the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to ar­rest four blog­gers on sus­pi­cion of dam­ag­ing re­li­gious emo­tions.

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