Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, December 31, 2010

Rallies Defend Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws

I have already had reason to comment that Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws fuel the invention of charges of Qur'an desecration in that country (see also my case study comparing different cultures). However, the efforts of human rights organizations to change the law seem to be suffering setbacks this month. The New York Times reports:

A crippling strike by Islamist parties brought Pakistan to a standstill on Friday as thousands of people took to the streets and forced businesses to close to head off any change in the country’s blasphemy law ....

The general strike and protests Friday are an indication of the power Islamists hold on the streets of Pakistan. It is also a sharp contrast to the campaigns by rights activists and opponents of the blasphemy laws who have vented their opposition and discontent mostly on the Internet and social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Protest rallies by rights activists have been ineffective and relatively small.

... the huge show of force by religious parties, and even the attention local news media outlets gave them on Friday, would only embolden the religious elements in the country, analysts said. The dynamic was such that “the government may not be able to make any changes in the blasphemy laws in the coming years,” Mr. Rais predicted.

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