I recently alluded to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in an attempt to describe the dreamlike insanity of the “hate speech” conviction against the Austrian anti-jihad activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff.
Other literary examples of institutional madness are also appropriate when Islam is the topic of the day. A frequent candidate is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which is what came to mind when I read this article from Agenzia Fides about the deadly absurdities of Pakistan’s blasphemy law:
Sherry Rehman, Promoter for Amending the Blasphemy Law, Incriminated for Blasphemy
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – Sherry Rehman, Parliamentarian from the Pakistan People’s Party, the woman who presented the motion to the Pakistani Parliament to modify the blasphemy law has been formally charged with blasphemy. The decision was taken by a court in Multan, which enlisted the local police to register the charge of blasphemy against Rehman. The court received the denouncement by a local shopkeeper, who accuses the woman of blasphemy in her address on television in November 2010. The local police, for now, have declared her legally incompetent. In recent weeks there have been other attempts to incriminate her but other Pakistani courts have refused to give authorisation.
This news creates “discouragement and deep concern within the Christian community” which, as a local source of Fides confirms, sees its fears being realised: that it has gone beyond the idea of defining “blasphemous”, and therefore, anyone who opposes the law on blasphemy can be incriminated.
Meanwhile cases are multiplying in which extremist Islamic groups openly praise the “holy war”, the civil disobedience and murders. Fides sources in Pakistan’s civil society express growing concern that these attitudes, however, “are not producing any solid responses from the Pakistani Government,” which “should stop these preachers of hate and lawlessness.” Many mullahs use the Friday sermon to convey hostile messages to increase social and interreligious tensions, to override the rule of law.
Fortunately for Ms. Rehman, the court decided that there was no basis for the case against her, and dropped the charges. She’s not out of the woods yet, however, because the fundamentalists consider her a blasphemer, and she is still living under a death threat.
What’s notable in this story is the fact that questioning the blasphemy law is itself blasphemy. And the punishment under sharia for blasphemy is, of course, death — making this legal confection a perfect closed system.
“Catch-22,” the old woman repeated, rocking her head up and down. “Catch-22. Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
“Didn’t they show it to you?” Yossarian demanded, stamping about in anger and distress. “Didn’t you even make them read it?”
“They don’t have to show us Catch-22,” the old woman answered. “The law says they don’t have to.”
“What law says they don’t have to?”
Yep, that’s come catch, that Catch-22.
Hat tip: LAW Wells.