Pakistan

CII wants ban on religious hate speeches

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top religious body Wednesday called for a ban on religious hate speech and greater harmony between sects ahead of a holy month usually marred by anti-Shiite violence.

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) added that labelling any Muslim sect “non-believers” was condemnable and deserving of death.

“Terrorism and violence in the country in the name of religion are a violation of Islamic teachings. All schools of thought announce their disassociation from such acts,” it said in its “Code of Conduct”, which it wants parliament to adopt.

“It is an un-Islamic and condemnable act to declare any Muslim sect a disbeliever and deserving of death,” it added, along with recommendations to curb hate speech and published material.

The recommendations come as the country prepares for the Islamic month of Muharram, beginning on October 24 or 25, when Shiite Muslims mourn the Battle of Karbala in 680AD.

The month is frequently marred by sectarian violence, which has risen markedly in recent years.

Clashes between Sunnis and Shiites led to at least 11 deaths in the city of Rawalpindi, close to the capital Islamabad, last November.

Around 1,000 Shiites have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, a heavy toll on the community that makes up roughly 20 percent of the country’s population of 180 million, which is predominantly Muslim.

The body also called for greater protection for non-Muslims, who make up around three percent of the population.

“It is the government’s responsibility to provide protection to their worship places and holy figures according to the law,” it said.

Pakistani law already forbids religious hate speech but its implementation is close to non-existent, except in cases of alleged blasphemy.

The CII is more often known for its conservative pronouncements, declaring in March the prohibition of child marriage incompatible with Islam and that a man does not need permission from his wife to marry again.

Formed in 1962 its remit is to advise parliament on the compatibility of laws with Sharia, though its recommendations are non-binding. – AFP

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