Christian Writer Murdered at Courthouse in Jordan for Sharing “Blasphemous” Cartoon

International Christian Concern
2020 Pennsylvania Ave. NW #241, Washington, D.C. 20006
Media Contact:
Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator
(301)-859-3842
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Extrajudicial Killings Continue When Religious Minorities are Accused of Blasphemy

09/27/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Nahed Hattar, a Christian writer in Jordan, was killed on Sunday, September 25, outside of a courthouse in Amman, Jordan. Hattar’s death again reflects the potentially deadly impact of blasphemy laws in Islamic countries and their use to justify extrajudicial killings even in traditionally moderate countries like Jordan.

Hattar, age 56, was arrested in August 2016 for sharing a “blasphemous” cartoon about the prophet Mohammad. Hattar was going into court to stand trial for “contempt of religion” and “inciting sectarian strife” when someone fatally shot him. Witnesses say that the shooter was dressed similarly to Sunni Salafis, a very conservative Muslim group known for their extreme interpretation of Islam.
Approximately 70% of Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa have blasphemy laws that make it illegal to criticize or dishonor religious symbols and teachings. In practice, many of these laws apply exclusively to Islam.
In Muslim-majority countries affected by widespread extremism, such as Pakistan, extrajudicial consequences for religious minorities accused of blasphemy are common. These consequences include beatings, arson, and even murder. Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are often forced to go into hiding to avoid such attacks after they are accused.
In November 2014, two Christians in Pakistan’s Kasur District were brutally murdered by a mob of enraged Muslims after being accused of burning a Quran. According to reports, Shahzad Masih and his pregnant wife were beaten by a mob and then murdered by being thrown into a brick kiln. In March 2013, a mob of enraged Muslims burned down Joseph Colony, a Christian-majority neighborhood in Lahore, Pakistan, after a Christian resident was accused of making derogatory remarks against the prophet Mohammad.
Almost 25 percent of the world has a form of blasphemy laws on their books including European, Latin American, and Asian Pacific countries. Fortunately, many of these countries do not actively prosecute individuals under these laws. Still, the very existence of these laws, especially in Muslim-majority countries where blasphemy is a crime that is routinely enforced, continues to create a dangerous situation for religious minorities.
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “We are deeply concerned for the protection of our Christian brothers and sisters in Muslim-majority countries. Blasphemy laws are relative and can be applied at the whim of a government under pressure from extremist groups. Because of their often fickle nature, blasphemy laws and blasphemy accusations can encourage extrajudicial responses from Muslims. Removing blasphemy laws from a country’s legal system will provide a greater measure of protection for religious minorities and individuals will no longer be able to justify their violent behavior towards minorities using blasphemy laws. ICC will continue raising awareness about the victims of blasphemy and provide assistance where it can.”
 

 

# # #

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s