Quantcast
Connect with us

Lawyers in Pakistan go on strike to mourn colleague killed over blasphemy

Published

on

Lawyers in Pakistan went on strike Thursday to mourn a colleague shot dead for defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy, the latest killing linked to the controversial law.

Gunmen stormed the office of Rashid Rehman in the central city of Multan on Wednesday evening and started firing indiscriminately, killing him and two others in the room.

It is the latest high-profile killing linked to Pakistan’s strict laws against defaming Islam, which rights campaigners say are often used to settle personal disputes.

ADVERTISEMENT

A prominent provincial governor and a Christian federal minister were assassinated in separate incidents in 2011 for criticising the laws.

Last month a Christian couple were sentenced to death for sending a “blasphemous” text message, with their lawyer suggesting they were framed.

Police official Zulfiqar Ali said that Rehman’s attackers were young men who reached the scene on motorcycle, and made no attempt to conceal their identity using masks.

Rehman, who was about 50 and married without children was pronounced dead in hospital.

He was hit by five bullets including one in the head and one in the heart, according to Doctor Ashiq Malik of the city’s Nishtar Hospital.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We are observing a strike and no lawyer will appear in any court today to mourn and protest the killing of our colleague,” Sher Zaman Qureshi, president of the District Bar Association Multan, told AFP.

“We demand that the killers of Rashid Rehman should be arrested immediately.”

He added that Rehman had told the association he had received death threats and they had asked the police to provide security, but the request was declined.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Rashid Rehman had informed us that he was being threatened by various people to stop defending the blasphemy case, otherwise he will be killed,” Qureshi said.

Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who is accused of making derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in March last year.

ADVERTISEMENT

Hafeez was known at the university for his liberal views and the blasphemy case was registered after pressure from right-wing student groups, according to a student who did not wish to be named.

– Rights activist –

An official at the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that for a year, no lawyer was prepared to take up the case over fears of attacks from extremist religious groups.

But Rehman, who was also a rights activist and coordinator of the HRCP, decided to defend Hafeez.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the first hearing in March this year, which took place inside a prison for security reasons, Rehman received threats from the complainant’s lawyers.

“During the hearing the lawyers of the complainant told Rehman that he wouldn’t be present at the next hearing as he would not be alive,” said the HRCP in a statement issued after the incident in March.

Rehman was threatened in the presence of the judge, according to the HRCP.

Allah Dad Khan, a friend of Rehman, told AFP the lawyer had taken on hundreds of cases for the poor and needy free of charge.

ADVERTISEMENT

“He always had a smile at his face when he met people and clients and he used to be very happy when helping the needy,” said Khan.

“He was never afraid of anything and when colleagues and friends asked him not to take sensitive cases he used to reply that one should not be afraid of death, one can die because of mosquito bite,” he added.

The HRCP will also hold a condolence event in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province, on Thursday afternoon.

Pakistan has strict laws against defaming Islam — including the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammed — and rights campaigners say they are often misused to settle personal disputes.

ADVERTISEMENT

A recent report from a US government advisory panel said Pakistan used blasphemy laws more than any other country in the world, listing 14 people on death row and 19 others serving life sentences for insulting Islam.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

2020 Election

So long, Steve King: 9-term white supremacist GOP congressman from Iowa loses primary

Published

on

U.S. Congressman Steve King, a nine-term Republican of Iowa, has just lost his primary to a GOP challenger. It's a huge fall from grace: In 2014 The Des Moines Register labeled the former earth-moving company founder a "presidential kingmaker."

But his racist, white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, biphobic remarks and disturbing ties to far right radical European politicians – including one he endorsed who has ties to a neo-Nazi, finally caught up with him.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

When the president’s son-in-law truly was a great success

Published

on

For many Americans, the idea of the president tasking his son-in-law with solving national, even international, crises, seems problematic, if not absurd. But it happened once before and turned out to be the kind of “great success story” our current first family wants us to believe in again. Slightly over a century ago, as the US mobilized for the First World War, the nation faced devastating breakdowns of its financial and transport systems. In response, President Woodrow Wilson leaned heavily on his talented and experienced Treasury Secretary, William McAdoo, who just happened to be his son-in-law. Looking back at this episode tells us a lot about what makes for successful emergency management at the highest levels of government.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Here are 7 ways Donald Trump is just like Henry Ford — and why that’s not good for American democracy

Published

on

On May 21, speaking at the Ford Motor Company’s Rawsonville plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Donald Trump paid his latest homage to Henry Ford, lauding the family’s “good bloodlines” with Ford’s great grandson sitting in the front row.

Ford, like Trump, was obsessed with bloodlines—with the idea that race and genetic origins determined who counted as the “best people.”

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image