Published: 10:00 GMT Daylight Time - Thursday 09 June 2011
Radical Islamists call for Bible ban in Pakistan
Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia
An influential Islamic political party has called for Pakistan’s Supreme Court to ban the Bible describing it as “pornographic”, “blasphemous”, and offensive to Muslims.
Urdu language Bible
A leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam or the JUI-S party, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, made the appeal at a press conference at a mosque in Lahore on 30 May. The JUI party, whose name means “an Assembly of Islamic Clergy”, is represented in the lower house of Pakistan’s parliament.
Farooqi claimed that “blasphemous” portions had been added to the Bible that charged some prophets with “a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures”. Farooqi said such “insertions” strongly offended Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem. Muslims believe the Christian Bible is a corruption of the original text.
Farooqi said that if the Supreme Court did not respond by banning the Bible, Islamic clerics would formally petition the court. He added that the move was an act of revenge against the desecration of the Quran by a church in Florida.
“A dangerous move”
Pakistani Christians have strongly condemned the call. Bruce Bhatti, a Christian human rights activist from Lahore, said:
It is a dangerous move, and this demand is based on hate. It is totally against the human values and will further promote religious intolerance in the country where Christians have been persecuted because of their faith.
And a senior Church leader in Lahore, the Rt Rev. Dr Alexander John Malik, said that the call to ban the Bible was interference in the religious affairs of the Christian community and violation of the religious freedom guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution.
There are fears that this attack on the Bible signals an intensification of persecution against Christians in Pakistan, where Islamists are said to have become more extreme in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s assassination.
Christians are already heavily persecuted in Pakistan; the catalogue of attacks against them is endless. They suffer widespread discrimination in public life, and regularly face blasphemy accusations because of the country’s notorious "blasphemy laws", which are often used to settle personal scores.
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