“Mob rule: On Asia Bibi Blasphemy Case”

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The Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment acquitting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy, was an opportunity for the government to start debating the need to reform the regressive blasphemy laws. Instead, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration has capitulated to pressure from extremists, who blocked roads in Islamabad for three days, demanding a reversal of Wednesday’s verdict. On Friday, protesters led by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, a firebrand cleric and chairman of the Islamist party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik, decided to end the sit-ins after striking a deal with the government. According to the agreement, the government will not oppose the filing of a review petition in the Supreme Court against Ms. Bibi’s acquittal. It has also promised the protesters that Ms. Bibi would be prevented from leaving Pakistan. All protesters arrested since Wednesday are being released. This is the second time the Pakistani government is surrendering before the pressure protests by Mr. Rizvi and his co-Islamists. Last year, he led a weeks-long sit-in in the outskirts of Islamabad against a change in the electoral laws. Protesters claimed that the change in the wording of the oath taken by candidates amounted to blasphemy. After three weeks of protests, the previous government and the military struck a deal with the Islamists to end the crisis. The earlier version of the oath was restored and the Law Minister fired.

The question is, how long can the Pakistani government allow extremist mobs to dictatepolicies, and erode the state’s authority? In the case of Ms. Bibi, Pakistan has already seen much bloodshed. She was arrested in 2009 on charges that she insulted Islam and the Prophet Mohammed in an argument with her Muslim co-workers. In 2010, she was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. The country has faced widespread international condemnation ever since about the blasphemy laws, which are perceivedas being used to persecute religious minorities. Salman Taseer, the outspoken and secular Governor of Punjab who had campaigned for Ms. Bibi’s release, was shot dead in 2011 by his own bodyguard.

Shahbaz Bhatti, then Minister for Minorities, was assassinated in the same year after he called for amendments to the law. By acquitting Ms. Bibi, the Supreme Court actually offered fresh energy to those who campaign against the controversial legislation. The government initially tried to rein in the protests. But by capitulating to the extremists as it did subsequently, the government has not only done her a disservice, but further emboldened extremist sections in Pakistan.

Vocabulary Words from The Hindu Editorial

1.Blasphemy(noun) ईश-निंदा : Something that you say or do that shows you do not respect God or a religion.

Synonyms: Profanity, Sacrilege, Impiety, Execration

Antonyms: Reverence, Piety, Adoration, Glorification, Worship

Example: This would lead one to believe that religion and bigotry are identical, but this would be blasphemy against religion.

2. Persecute (verb) अत्याचार करना/ कष्ट पहुंचाना / सताना : Subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs. (If someone is persecuted, they are treated cruelly and unfairly, often because of their race or beliefs.)

Synonyms: Oppress, abuse, intimidate, pester

Antonyms: Comfort, appease, soothe

Example: I feel quite persecuted by my family and friends.

3. Acquittal (noun) दोषमुक्ति/ रिहाई : A judgment that a person is not guilty of the crime with which the person has been charged.

Synonyms: Absolution, clearing, exoneration

Antonyms: Condemnation, conviction

Example: In the result therefore a verdict of acquittal was directed in respect of all charges against both accused.

4. Assassinate (verb हत्या करना / छिप कर मारना : When someone important is assassinated, they are murdered as a political act.

Synonyms: kill, execute, slaughter, terminate

Antonyms: breathe life into, beget

Example: Political opponents were assassinated, women were raped before being mutilated and killed.

5. Condemnation (noun) तिरस्कार/निंदा: Condemnation is the act of saying that something or someone is very bad and unacceptable.

Synonyms: blame, reproof, censure, criticism, strictures, denunciation, vilification, reproof, disapproval.

Antonyms: Approval, absolution.

Example: There has been growing international condemnation of the election.

6. Erode (verb) नष्ट करना / अपरदन करना: If rock or soil erodes or is eroded by the weather, sea, or wind, it cracks and breaks so that it is gradually destroyed. (gradually destroy or be gradually destroyed.)

Synonyms: Corrode, rot, decay, undermine, weaken, deteriorate, destroy.

Antonyms: Construct, accentuate.

Example: If we had not got a result of some sort it would have eroded our confidence.

7. Overt(adj) अपरोक्ष/ प्रत्यक्ष/खुल्मखुला: Done or shown openly; plainly apparent. (An overt action or attitude is done or shown in an open and obvious way.)

Synonyms: Open, Conspicuous, Undisguised, Unconcealed

Antonyms: Covert, Secret, Clandestine, Surreptitious

Example:  There was no overt political message because there was no apparent legal validation.

8. Dictate (noun) आज्ञापूर्वक कहना / तानाशाही करना / निर्धारण करना: If you dictate something, you say or read it aloud for someone else to write down.

Synonyms: Order, Command, Commandment, Decree, Edict, Ruling, Dictum, Diktat, Directive.

Antonyms: Appeal, Undergo

Example : He’s blushing now as I dictate those words, but it’s true, and I want you to know.

9. Perceive (verb) समझना/ मालूम करना / अनुभव करना: If you perceive something, you see, notice, or realize it, especially when it is not obvious.

Synonyms: Discern, Recognize, Become Aware Of, See, Distinguish, Realize, Grasp, Understand.

Antonyms: Misinterpret, overlook, neglect

Example: I still find myself wondering how people perceive me as I move through this world.

10. Embolden (verb) साहस देना/ प्रोत्साहित करना : If you are emboldened by something, it makes you feel confident enough to behave in a particular way.

Synonyms: Rouse, Stir, Stimulate, Cheer, Rally, Fire, Animate, Inspirit.

Antonyms: Discourage, Dishearten.

Example: He now faces an emboldened opposition as Russians show increasing impatience.



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