In 1968, the so-called blasphemy law was enacted in Pakistan. By principle, the law protects all religions from offenses, but it provides for severe and draconian punishments to offenses and blasphemies against Islam: the desecration of the Koran is punishable by life imprisonment and an insult to the prophet Muhammad, with a death penalty. A simple suspicion or a statement would be enough to imprison a person and the burden of proof is borne by the accused, who is the one who must prove his innocence. In addition, the accuser will never repeat what the accused has allegedly said against the Qur’an or Islam because then he or she would also commit blasphemy. This makes it difficult to obtain sustainable proof and the problem is also that the allegations can be invented.
Furthermore, the Pakistani law of blasphemy does not provide for any distinction between voluntary and involuntary acts, which means that even a child or an illiterate person could be punished. For instance, if a child or an illiterate person would throw out an old newspaper that contained a verse of the Qur’an or if a mentally handicapped person would claim to be the prophet, Muhammed, they would be subject to the same punishment as someone that would deliberately insult the Qur’an and the prophet, according to what the law establishes.
Oftentimes the pressure of foreigner countries can do more harm than good. When extremists get the attention they put even more pressure on the accused to receive the highest penalty possible. Pope Benedict XVI, on January 10, 2011, made a statement in favor of the repeal of the blasphemy law in Pakistan. The outcome was a riot inside the country. Muslim was very offended and they acted to further defend the honor of Islam and the Prophet.