Pakistan's Religious Persecutions

The Lahore High Court has admitted the appeal of Dr. Shaikh, Pakistani rationalist and founder president of "The Enlightenment", against the death sentence awarded to him for blasphemy by the Islamabad additional district and sessions court on 18 August (Saturday). Dr. Shaikh was given only one week's time to appeal in the High Court.

The sister of Dr Shaikh made the appeal on 21 August (Tuesday) on behalf of him. A court official has confirmed that the appeal had been admitted.

Dr. Muhammed Younus Shaikh, British educated physician and physiology professor in a local medical college was arrested on 4 October 2000 by the Islamabad police and booked under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Dr. Shaikh was accused to have defied Prophet Muhammed with his statement that Muhammed did not become a Muslim before the age of forty and that his parents were non-Muslims. Dr. Shaikh was found guilty and convicted under the law that prescribes death sentence if charges of blasphemy are proved. This law was added to the Pakistan Penal Code in 1986 which said whoever made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammed "by words either spoken, or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of Holy Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

What to do now?

1) We request all readers of the Rationalist International Bulletin to write letters appealing to the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf in the following format or in similar lines at the following address with copy to the DR.SHAIKH DEFENSE COMMITTEE.

To: CE@pak.gov.pk

Copy to: Dr.ShaikhDefense@rationalistinternational.net

General Pervez Musharraf

President

Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Your Excellency,

I am shocked to hear that Dr. Muhammed Younus Shaikh, currently in jail in Islamabad being accused of blasphemy, has been convicted to death on August 18th by the Islamabad additional district and sessions court. His appeal against the death sentence is under the consideration of the Lahore High Court now.

It is the right of everyone to express freely one's opinion in any civilized society and I hope that you will guide Pakistan to an open and pluralist society.

I strongly support the international campaign in favor of the release of Dr. Shaikh. I request you to use all the powers available at your disposal to mediate and intervene for the release of Dr. Muhammed Younus Shaikh.

(Signature)

(Name and address)

Anybody wanting further details about Rationaliost International, please click on: <www.rationalistinternational.net> The web site of Rationalist International has several pages about Dr. Shaikh and the case, with the text of the Police First Information Report (FIR), the Pakistan Blasphemy Laws and reports of the several stages of the case. The site is being updated with all new details.