An FIR [First Information Report] has been lodged against singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed in a Karachi police station on charges of blasphemy after a video of one his TV lectures went viral.
This is what happened:
In the clip that some find offensive Jamshed was relating an incident concerning the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) youngest wife Hazrat Ayesha (RA) to substantiate the point that women are all the same. The video went viral and hurt religious sentiments.
Reaction from religious groups
The Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) lodged a reaction against Jamshed, accusing him of being disrespectful to Bibi Ayesha (RA). They held a protest in Sukkur and Karachi.
Meanwhile, Maulana Tariq Jameel released a video a few days later to detach himself and his group from Jamshed’s controversial statement as it threatened to delegitimize their tableeghi group.
“I’m upset that Junaid Jamshed narrated such a story. It might be due to his lack of knowledge but we all know saying something against the Holy prophet’s friends or family is detrimental to our faith. I’m not here to defend him but to emphasize that this is his personal matter and shouldn’t be linked to our religious group.”
The ex-musician then released another video where he apologized for his mistake. He accepted that he had gone over board during his sermon and had no intention of being disrespectful. He requested the people to forgive him for his mistake which may have occurred due to lack of knowledge and absence of any religious degree.
Reaction in general
Some were ready to accept JJ’s apology and others were skeptical as they emphasized on the contradiction between the law enforcers ‘ reaction against religious scholars and normal public. While his apology was accepted people in general did question the double standards of the society and the law makers.
Ro Waseem summarized the ‘big question’ perfectly on his blog.
“Needless to say that I do appreciate Muslims forgiving him, I think this partial attitude does more harm than good, for it promotes double standards and hypocrisy! I wonder why are people who belong to minority groups in Pakistan not given the same privilege, the same benefit of doubt when accused of blasphemy? Why are they not given the luxury of apologizing for their “mistake”, a mistake they may or may not even have committed? Why does the state not recognize that anti-blasphemy laws are mostly used to settle personal disputes and prejudices?”
There are sections of the society who are still angry at his statement and have put up banners on Junaid Jamshed outlets to express their sentiments.
Jamshed’s unintentional mistake called in to question the legitimacy of the blasphemy law itself and how clerics respond to those who suffer because of it.
Earlier this year, two other celebrities were accused of blasphemy but although she apologized profusely her words fell on deaf ears and she was forced to flee the country. Both Shaista Lodhi and Veena Malik released a video similar to Junaid Jamshed’s but their apologies were not accepted.
An anti corruption court in Gilgit recently ordered 26 years in jail to Lodhi, Veena Malik and Mir Shakilur Rehman for the controversial episode of Utho Jago Pakistan. Their ‘crime’
Veena Malik gave an interview to BBC emphasizing that she and her husband were innocent and “other media groups were using the issue for personal gains”.
Taseer came on TV shows to explain that he had only questioned the ‘Blasphemy law’ and questioning a man-made law is in no way blasphemy. There is a chance of improvement in every law or policy and they do undergo change over time but religious fundamentalists weren’t eager to lend an ear to his explanation.
Asia bibi, a mother of five, was sentenced to death by Pakistan court for blasphemy. Was she given a chance to explain herself or the context in which she said those things?
Samira Shackle explained the problem with our law in her article for The Guardian,
“Bibi’s case shone a spotlight on Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. The existence of blasphemy laws is not itself unusual. All over the world, different countries restrict what citizens can say about religion; Britain had a blasphemy law until 2008. What is exceptional in Pakistan is the extremity of the penalties, and the light burden of proof. Blasphemy carries a maximum penalty of death, yet the law sets out no standards for evidence, no requirement to prove intent, no punishment for false allegations and, indeed, no guidance on what actually constitutes blasphemy.”