The Demand for Anti-Blasphemy Law Is Unconstitutional and Will Give Rise to Islamophobia
1. India already has a law preventing Hate Speech.
2. Muslims should only demand a strict enforcement of existing laws on Hate Speech.
3. Anti-Blasphemy Law will also give rise to sectarian violence among Muslims.
4. Anti-Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan and Bangladesh are mostly used against Muslims.
By New Age Islam Staff Writer
22 November 2021
After losing the Babri Mosque and Triple Talaq cases, the AIMPLB is trying to reclaim its credibility among the Muslims. A recently held survey showed that more than 64 per cent Muslim women favoured the bill against Triple Talaq and more than 50% of Muslim men also favoured the bill against the Instant Talaq. But ignoring the larger writ of the Muslims, it stuck to the stand of the ulema who insist that Triple Talaq is valid and could not be invalidated.
Now, the Board has found a new issue to garner Muslim support and find its lost support among the Muslims. In its two day convention held in Kanpur on Sunday, It has demanded that the government should enact an Anti-Blasphemy Law to prevent snide remarks against the holy prophet of Islam by the Islamophobes. The resolution of the Board has also demanded punishment for those making indecent remarks against the holy figures of Islam.
While it is a fact that Islamophobia is on the rise in India and there have been a few incidents of hate speech against Islam and Islamic holy figures. But it is also a fact that India is not a theocratic state but a secular country and that India does not have a state religion. On the other hand, India’s Constitution grants equal rights to the followers of all the religious communities and also prevents hate speech or blasphemous statements in any form against any religion. Therefore, India already has laws against hate speech that makes it a punishable crime.
Section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code of 1927 says:
Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of (citizens of India),(by words, either spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise) insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to (three years) or fine or with both.
Since India is a secular country, this law applies to all. At the most the Muslims can demand strict application of the law on those who commit blasphemy against Islamic figures. But when Muslims demand an Anti-Blasphemy Law specifically for punishing those who insult the holy figures of Islam, they will also demand death sentence for the blasphemer as a section of the Islamic scholars have the opinion that those insulting the prophet pbuh should be summarily killed. On the contrary, the Quran, the basic source of Islamic shariah does not prescribe any physical punishment for blasphemy. It advises Muslims to observe patience and restraint and only stage peaceful protest condemning the act.
However, a majority of Islamic scholars believe that the blasphemer should be punished with death. And a section of Islamic scholars including Dr Tahirul Qadri is of the opinion that even a Muslim should be killed for showing insult to the prophet pbuh. Therefore, if such an Anti-Blasphemy Law is enacted in India, it will have a wider ramification among the Muslim and sectarian violence among different sects of Muslims will rise. Muslims of opposing sects will declare members of the rival sect Kafir or Gustakh-e-Rasul (blasphemer) and register cases under the Anti-Blasphemy Law. This already happens in Pakistan and Bangladesh. When the accused will be absolved by the court, he will be killed extrajudicially by any member of a sect and the killer will be honoured by the Muslims. If the killer is sentenced to death by the court of law, he will be turned into a martyr and a Peer. Mumtaz Qadri’s case is a living example of this phenomenon. He killed the governor of Punjab because he demanded a repeal of the Blasphemy Laws which was being used to frame Christians and other members of religious minorities in Pakistan. When the court of law sentenced him to death, Muslims declared him a martyr and built a Mazar on his grave.
Maumtaz Quadri's Mazar
Therefore, such a law will only prove counter-productive for Muslims as it will be used more by Muslims to frame Muslims of rival sects for blasphemy. Currently, Muslims of India only accuse Muslims of other groups of blasphemy or of becoming Kafir on various pretexts and it does not turn into religious violence but once such a law is enacted, sectarian differences will reach courts and will lead to violence.
The Muslim Personal Law Board does not demand enforcement of the existing laws and punishment for the guilty but it wants a separate Anti-Blasphemy Law which will be based on the interpretation of Sharia which is not permissible under the Indian Constitution. By demanding such a law they have showed their ignorance of the secular nature of the country or they want to impose Islamic sharia.
Such a demand will only cause a rise in Islamophobia as communal forces will use this resolution to convince the non-Muslims of India that the Muslims want to impose Shariah rule and thus cause the widening of the communal gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. The Board has ignored the flagrant truth that the majority of India’s Hindus is secular and condemns such vicious attacks on religious figures of Islam and has always demanded punishment for them. Making such an unconstitutional demand will only make Muslims lose the support and sympathy of a large section of Hindus of India.
So, an Anti-Blasphemy Law in India will not only cause a rise in Islamophobia in India but also, if enacted, will prove counterproductive for the Muslim society of India as a new phenomenon of sectarian violence in India will rear its ugly head. Therefore, this resolution of the AIMPLB is not in the best interests of the Muslims community and the country.
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