In Memory of the Slain

At SZABIST, the students held a candlelight vigil in memory of those slain in the name of blasphemy.

Over the last month a Christian couple in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometers southwest of Lahore were beaten and burnt to death after they were accused of blasphemy by their creditor, which was followed by another horrifying and deplorable incident in Gujrat where a man in police custody was hacked to death by an axe wielding police officer, again in the name of blasphemy.

Below is the speech I gave at the occasion.


We have all gathered here today because we chose to not to remain silent on the brutal murder of Shama and Shehzad.

They both were burnt alive in the same place where they worked all their lives as a bonded labor.

That fateful day, it wasn’t just the two of them who were killed: Shama was four months pregnant.

But this isn’t about just these two.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, between 1st January 2013 and 31st December 2013, there were 540 ‘victims’ of blasphemy.

When we step into law school, in the first year we are taught about the values of Rule of Law; that no one is above the law. We are taught that no one can be sentenced or punished without due process of the law.

Sadly, 540 fellow citizens were condemned to their horrifying deaths last year by mobs, by lunatics, by murders, after they were accused of blasphemy. In this country, as rule of law erodes, we are facing increasing incidents of extra-judicial killings, vigilante justice and rising crime.

Yes, it is a crime to take someone’s life. Yes it is a crime to burn someone alive, or to hack someone to death. Sadly this has happened over the past week in our country.

This is a country, where even lawyers are killed for defending a blasphemy accused in a court of law, where politicians calling for reform of these laws are killed. I am talking about Rashid Rehman, a lawyer murdered because he was defending a blasphemy accused in court, I am talking about Salaman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti.

We all agree that this heinous crime must not go unpunished. We wish to see these killers being brought to justice.

Because as the saying goes:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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