Shaan Taseer, a Pakistani business magnate, has been charged for a hate crime against Pakistan and Islam because he posted a Christmas greeting video on Facebook.
Taseer is being charged under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which are loosely defined to encompass any subjective or perceived insult to Islam.
Taseer posted a video message on his Facebook profile Christmas Day wishing holiday greetings to all Pakistani Christians, including Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death by hanging in November, 2010, due to similar blasphemy charges. Bibi remains on death row in a Pakistani prison.
Islamic clerics and certain religious organizations reported the video to Pakistani police, and filed the blasphemy case against Taseer under section 295-A of Pakistan’s penal code, reports the Clarion Project.
Extremists also issued a fatwa against Taseer because he reached out to victims of blasphemy laws, like Bibi, and sent the Christmas message on Christmas Day itself, according to The Clarion Project. The fatwa declares that Taseer should be liable for death under sharia law.
— Shaan Taseer (@ShaanTaseer) January 1, 2017
“The Punjab police have, in the past, failed to take action against hate speech when it has kicked them in the face like a horse. One is mildly and tragically amused at the alacrity they have shown at the hate they found in a Christmas message,” Taseer said.
Shaan Taseer is the son of Salman Taseer, the former governor of the Punjab province who was assassinated by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri. Salman was reportedly murdered because he outspokenly defended Bibi. Qadri is considered a national hero by many extremists within Pakistan.
“On social media there are calls for another Mumtaz Qadri to deal with me and people are offering to be his successor,” Taseer said, according to The Guardian. “What they plan to do is engineer another Qadri-like assassination.”
Taseer, just like his father, has been campaigning against the country’s anti-blasphemy laws.
“My father died for a great cause and we do not want this cause to end here,” he said, according to The Clarion Project. “We will take it forward to try and save the lives of many innocents who are being killed in the name of religion.”