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Junaid Hafeez's Sentencing Highlights the Most Pressing Freedom of Speech Issue of the 21st Century





Junaid Hafeez has been given the death penalty for false blasphemy claims made against him by jealous work colleagues. Hafeez is a Pakistani born Fulbright scholar, who went back to Pakistan after being educated in the U.S. to give back to his country, through lecturing at Bahauddin Zakariya University,


Hafeez was champion of liberal ideas and created a Facebookgroup called the 'So Called Liberals of Pakistan', which contained posts which would be viewed as 'provocative' and not necessarily explicitly blasphemous. But that was enough to create a 'your word against mine,' situation and Hafeez's liberal values were already against him.Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, in all of their ambiguity have allowed this sentencing to happen and the corruption does notstop there. His lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was killed for simply representing him.


Pakistan is not alone in these laws.


Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia,Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait,  Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, SaudiArabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.The above are a further 26 countries, where Islam is the major and state recognised religion, include various apostasy, blasphemy and conversion laws, which carry heavy fines, imprisonment and the death penalty.The secular and liberal world must stand with the secularist and liberals in these countries because they cannot demonstrate, organise and protest they cannot trust the law or their fellow citizens in case they are part of the majority who support these laws.


Links

Freedom of Thought Report 2019 - https://fot.humanists.international/

Junaid Hafeez - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-50878432

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