Three Pakistani bloggers were arrested recently in Karachi and were accused of using a Dutch SIM card to post blasphemous content on social media. One of the bloggers who went by the alias, Allama Ayaz Nizami, had over 12,000 followers. The arrests were part of a government crackdown on social media blasphemers and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddique, an Islamabad High Court judge, is considering outright banning all social media from the country. He was quoted as saying “It will not make any difference if selfies and pictures of food are not shared with others … We will decide in the next court hearing if social media should be banned in Pakistan or not.”
Ironically after news of the arrests, Pakistani Muslims went on twitter to express their feelings towards the bloggers — especially Allama Ayaz Nizami. Soon, the hashtag #HangAyazNizami was trending in Pakistan with users calling for the blogger to be executed.
There isn’t freedom of speech in Pakistan and blasphemy can be punishable by death. Ayaz Nizami, an atheist, had been critical of Islam and the Pakistani government, tweeting “No laws are really implemented in Pakistan except the Blasphemy Laws” two weeks before his arrest. One of his last tweets before his arrest showed his defiance saying he will continue to “seek the truth.”
Following in the footsteps of Pakistan, Canada recently passed a “Blasphemy” motion that was introduced by MP Iqra Khalid, a Pakistani immigrant. The motion establishes a committee to restrict freedom of speech and criminalize speech deemed “islamophobic” despite the word never being defined anywhere.
There was also no mention of blaspheming or being “phobic” of other religions aside from Islam.