The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Blasphemy allegations in Pakistan and Bangladesh


Deutsche Welle has an interesting, and troubling, article, "Blasphemy allegations—the new way of muzzling free speech in South Asia." An excerpt:

Government critics and secular writers in Pakistan and Bangladesh have never been more vulnerable. They fear religious extremists and their governments alike when it comes to blasphemy allegations, which are enough to put them in prison or get vigilante mobs to lynch them.

After Bangladesh witnessed a spate of killings of secular activists, Pakistan is experiencing a government crackdown on liberal bloggers, journalists, academics and activists. At the same time, religious fanatics are targeting secular social media activists, who have to go into hiding or self-censor to save their lives.

The "abduction" of liberal bloggers in January—allegedly by Pakistan's security forces—and the recent lynching of a secular journalism student in the northwestern city of Mardan by a mob have shocked activists and the journalist community in Pakistan. There has been increased social media vigilantism, which is forcing critics of the government and military as well as human rights activists to censor their thoughts and words…