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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 51, New Delhi, December 4, 2021

Oppose the demand for an anti-blasphemy law in India | IMSD Statement - Nov 27, 2021

Friday 3 December 2021

November 27, 2021

PRESS STATEMENT

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) strongly opposes the unconstitutional demand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and some other organisations for an anti-blasphemy law in India. The IMSD statement has been endorsed by nearly 400 secular Indians. A large majority of the signatories are Muslims.

We condemn the constant attempts by certain hate factories of Hindutva which are working overtime to demonise Islam and Muslims. However, IMSD fully supports the principle that in a secular state there can be no place for a law criminalising blasphemy.

Muslims demanding such a law should instead take recourse of the already existing law against hate speech in our country. Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code states: “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”.

As equal citizens of India Muslims have the right to invoke Section 295(A) against every attempt to target the community with hate speech and demand strict enforcement of the existing law. But the demand for a special law to punish blasphemy must be opposed for more than one reason. Among other things, the experience of neighbouring countries shows that such a law promotes fanaticism and seeks to silence even rational critical commentaries on religion.

The Board cannot be unaware of the notorious blasphemy law in neighbouring Pakistan which is frequently misused to hound individuals from religious minorities and even fellow Muslims with sectarian and personal motives.
According to the Minorities Association of Pakistan, “between 1987 and 2021, 1,865 people have been charged under the blasphemy laws, with a significant spike in 2020, when 200 cases were registered. Punjab, the province where most Christians of Pakistan live, is leading with 76% cases and 337 people are in prison for blasphemy... Also, at least 128 people have been killed by mobs, outside any judiciary process, after being signalled as having committed blasphemy or apostasy, without any chance to have access to an investigation, and nobody has been arrested for their murder”.

Neighbouring Bangladesh started off as a secular state at its birth in 1971 but adopted Islam as a state religion in 1988. It does not have a law against blasphemy but often misuses the same secular penal code of the British period – section 295(A) – to silence all critical comments on Islam in the name of blasphemy.

Signatories: [first 100 names of the the nearly 400 signatories are listed below]

1. Aaftab Khokar, Student, Jaipur
2. Aalishan Fatima, Student, Bhopal
3. Aamir Khan, Student Leader, Rajasthan
4. Aasha Ramesh, Bengaluru
5. Aasid, Student, Jaipur
6. Aazam Amin, Student, Bihar
7. Abbas Muzaffar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
8. Abdul Barek, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
9. Abdul Hamid, Retired executive,
10. Abdul Jalil, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
11. Abdul Kadir, Businessman, Muradabad
12. Abdul Malik, Farmer, Jharkhand
13. Abdul Qadir, Bank Employee, Aligarh
14. Abdulla Sama, Social Activist, Kutch, Gujarat
15. Abdullah Sheikh, Student, Jaipur
16. Abdur Rouph, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
17. Abjal Hoque, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
18. A C Michael, Former Member, Delhi Minorities Commission, New Delhi
19. Adnan Bari, Student, Aligarh
20. Adan Khan, Student, Kota, Rajasthan
21. Afreen, HR Manager, Delhi
22. Afroz Khan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
23. Afroz Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
24. Aftab Alam, Businessman, Kushinagar
25. Afzal Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
26. Ahsan Khan, Student, Jaipur
27. Aijaj Pathan, Social Activist, Latur
28. Akbar Shaikh, Social Activist, Pune
29. Akbar Shaikh, Farmer, Activist, Solapur
30. Akheeb Shaikh, Social Activist, Selu
31. Akhil Ahmad, Student, Jaipur
32. Akhil Soudager, Social Activist, Latur
33. Akhter Hussain, Business, Muzaffarpur
34. Ali Asghar, Social Activist, Hyderabad
35. Ali Sheikh, Social Activist, Gujarat
36. Aliya Syed, Social Activist, Nashik
37. Altaf Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
38. Altamash Pathan, Social Activist, Bori, Parbhani
39. Amir Abbas, Journalist, Patna
40. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai
41. Ajit Kumar Jha, Media, Delhi
42. Amita Buch, Freelancer, Ahmedabad
43. Amjad Shaikh, Social Activist, Solapur
44. Ammar Khan, Student, Jaipur
45. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
46. Anayatullah, Social Activist, Jharkhand
47. Aniket Alam, Historian, Hyderabad
48. Anis Sayyed, Social Activist, Pune
49. Anjum Rajabali, Film writer, Mumbai
50. Ankit Kumar, Teacher, Muzaffarpur
51. Antara Dev Sen, Journalist, New Delhi
52. Antony, Service, Delhi
53. Anil Rawat, Made Academy, Bengaluru
54. Anuradha Bagadthey, Chartered Accountant, Kolkata
55. Anurag Chaturvedi, Freelance Journalist, Mumbai
56. Anwar Azmat Khan, Businessman, Kalyan
57. Anwar Shaikh, Social Activist
58. Arbaz Khan, Student, Chaksu
59. Arbaz Khan, Student, Jaipur
60. Archana Kaul, Social Activist, New Delhi
61. Arif Kapadia, Businessman, Social Activist, Mumbra
62. Arshad Jamal, Lecturer, Aligarh
63. Arshad Khan, Student, Jaipur
64. Arshad Shameem, Government Employee, Aligarh
65. Arshid Bashir, Lawyer, Srinagar, J&K
66. Asad Ahmad, Political Activist, Muzaffarpur
67. (Dr) Asha Saxena Ahmad, Doctor, New Delhi
68. Ashfaq Inamdar, Social Activist, Pune
69. Ashik Rabbani, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
70. Ashiq, Civil Engineer, Mungher
71. Ashish Maharishi, Journalist, Varanasi
72. Ashok Sharma, IFS (Retried), Noida
73. Asif Naik, Social Activist, J&K
74. Askari Zaidi, Senior Journalist, New Delhi
75. Aslam HS, Student, Jaipur
76. Aslam Kazi, Social Activist, Solapur
77. Athar Khan, Business, Muzaffarpur
78. Athar Qazi, Social Activist, Parbhani
79. Atikur Rahman, Social Activist, Darang, Assam
80. Avanee, Lawyer, Bengaluru
81. Aysha B, Assistant Professor, Mumbai
82. Azam Amin, Shopkeeper, Jhanjha, Jharkhand
83. Azam Khan, Businessman, Hyderabad
84. Azam Khan, Advocate, Mhow
85. Azer Shaikh , Social Activist, Latur
86. Aziz Lokhandwala, Businessman, Mumbai
87. Bader Sayeed, Lawyer, Chennai
88. Baharul Amin, Advocate, Darang, Assam
89. Bebaak Collective, All India
90. Bharti Ali, Civil rights activist, New Delhi
91. Bina Sarkar Ellias, Poet-editor, Mumbai
92. Brinelle D’souza, TISS, Mumbai
93. Cedric Prakash, Human Rights Activist, Ahmedabad
94. Chandrashekhar Tibrewal, Parsipanny, NJ, USA
95. Charanpreet Singh, Educationist, Kolkota
96. Claire Noronha, Concerned Citizen, Delhi
97. Danish Alam, Business, Muzaffarpur
98. Danish S Ahmed, Business, Muzaffarpur
99. Dastgir Tamboli, Social Activist, Pune
100. Deshdeep Dhankhar, Hyderabad University, Hyderabad

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