Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday, ordered that those social media users who encourage blasphemous posts should be added to the Exit Control List (ECL).
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, passed the order today, March 7th, when a case concerning social media content was taken up by the court. The Honorable Judge also appealed to the religious scholars on Tuesday to take up the issue and join hands against the blasphemers on cyberspace.
“This matter requires immediate attention otherwise patience of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) may run out,” – Tuesday.
Salman Shahid, son-in-law of Maulana Abdul Aziz, of Lal Masjid fame, and petitioner in the instant case, explained that the social media stunts were “hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims”. Salman Shahid’s petition petition further emphasized that pages and videos targeted against Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and other revered personalities of Islam had still not been taken off, by the respondents, from the relevant websites.
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Respondents were: Mohammad Arif Khan, Federal Secretary Interior, who represented Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar, Tariq Masood Yasin, Inspector General Islamabad Police, Syed Ismail Shah (Chairman Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, PTA) and officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). All were present today at Chief Justice Siddiqui’s chamber to watch the “sacrilegious” content, presented by petitioner as evidence, of material uploaded on several Social media pages.
What is the #punishment for #blasphemy in #Islam? Learn here: https://t.co/n6ey61MQCU pic.twitter.com/vsd1apnjn5
— Review of Religions (@ReviewReligions) March 2, 2017
Petition against the civil society activists on the alleged charge of putting blasphemous content on net was brought by Salman Shahid, who has been described as “son in law” of the famous cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz.
The respondents – government bodies and agencies – were directed to add the names of the troublemakers on the ECL thereafter. The Chief Justice also questioned the PTA chairman what he had done up till now to take the content off the web pages. PTA was directed to take the offensive posts, pages and comments off the browsers on 27 February. The chairman was also advised to take this matter seriously and to provide a progress report to the chief justice on a day to day basis.
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Siddiqui explained that he had been unable to have a good night’s sleep ever since the content had come to the courts attention. “I will go to every extent to bring this case to its logical end and if needed I will even ban social media in Pakistan,” he said.
In recent months, Maulana Aziz and several known civil society activists of Pakistan have been at logger heads with each other. Civil society activist have repeatedly demanded that Interior Minister should act against the Maulana for his alleged comments in favor of ISIS and such groups.
The interior secretary stated that the matter would be taken care of and that he would do everything that he can to put the culprits behind bars. Though it is not clear as to how it will be determined as to what content on cyberspace constitutes blasphemy and who will make that determination. Also what is the legal position for those who visit such sites and watch or review that content.
Tensions between Maulana Aziz and Civil Society Activists
Petition against the civil society activists on the alleged charge of putting blasphemous content on net was brought by Salman Shahid, who has been described as “son in law” of the famous cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz. Maulana gained fame due to association with the Red Mosque (Lal Masjid) near Aabpara Market, in Islamabad.
Maulana Abdul Rashid, brother of Maulana Aziz died in 2007, when law enforcement agencies, lead by commandos of Pakistan army entered the mosque to clear its premise of militants who had paralyzed the nearby areas. In recent months, Maulana Aziz and several known civil society activists of Pakistan have been at logger heads with each other. Civil society activist have repeatedly demanded that Interior Minister should act against the Maulana for his alleged comments in favor of ISIS and such groups.