Death Penalty for “Blasphemy”

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Submitted by naim.13@gmail.com [Guest] on Wed, 03/04/2013 - 9:20am
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-Special Correspondent

(Translated from The Daily Ittefaq. Original: http://goo.gl/dIFc5).

In Bangladesh, A plan is in process to modify the five penal codes of punishment for irreverence towards religious beliefs to
provision for harsher sentences. The laws governing the internet are also being made stricter. Current laws allow for highest punishment of two years in prison and TK. 10 million in fine.

“Everyone hurting religious sentiments will be brought under the rule of law and provided highest punishment” – said Shafiq Ahmed, the minister of law. Although he did not explicitly mention capital punishment, deputy minister Kamrul Islam said to our correspondent the plan is to provision for death penalty for these kind of offences.

Home Minister Mohiuddin Alamgir also warned anyone committing such offence that immediate actions will be taken against them. He explained the position of the government regarding this issue in a joint press conference held at the Secretariat. Interestingly, the press conference was held right on the eve of the “long march” on April 6 organized by Hefazat-e-Islam, an islamist group in Bangladesh. They are doing this march in demand of arrest and punishment of “Blasphemers”.

According to the telecommunication and technology penal code number 57, anyone publishing anything defamatory to any person or organization, or anything that can incite violence, can worsen the law and order, or contains something derogatory towards the country – can be imprisoned for maximum 10 years and be fined maximum TK 10 million. However, for offending religious beliefs the penal code has provision for maximum 2 years in prison.

With the current laws, it’s considered a criminal offence when someone is convicted of any of the following:
1. harm the sacredness of a religious organization (penal code 295),
2. offend religious beliefs (295-A)
3. create chaos in religious gatherings (296),
4. enter a graveyard illegally (297) or
5. intentionally hurts religious beliefs (298).

For any of these crimes, the highest punishment currently is 2 years in prison or fine of TK 10 million, or both. Now a plan is in process to provision for death penalty for such crimes. “Actions will also be taken against people who tried to pass the holy kaaba pictures as human chains in support of war criminals” -the minister of law also said. Home minister Mohiuddin Alamgir and deputy minister of law Kamrul Islam said they’ve asked the Dhaka district supervisor to take action against one particular newspaper and its editors who have been publishing fake pictures like these. “The government will also make sure no one can instigate communal violence by using religious sentiments of the people” – the home minister also said. When asked about his opinions about ongoing Hartals, he said people carrying out vandalism during hartals will be prosecuted. He declined to comment on whether Begum Khaleda Zia, the chairperson of the main opposition party BNP will also be accused of these acts.

When asked about the long march organized by Hefazat-e-Islam, the minister said that any party has the right to organize peaceful processions according to the constitution. The government will not intervene if their long march remains peaceful.


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