Stop saying mean things about my god…or I will kill you.

Stop saying mean things about my god…or I will kill you.

Mashal Khan Student killed for ‘blasphemy in Pakistan April 2017

In light of the resent murder of Mashal Khan, a student from the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan, who was stoned to death my his fellow students and left to die by the police, for wondering out loud how could Adam and Eve have had so many children without incest being involved. An ex-religious Facebook friend asked this fundamental question.

Does anyone actual understand the anger that comes from hearing something blasphemous?

The responses in the comments box offered some kind of explanation and were really insightful.  They were not just the mindless ‘because they are stupid’ responses that I have seen on other sites. People were actually trying to understand what drives people to kill others for saying something they considered to offend their god.  They were trying to think back to when they were in the mist of their own religious belief, but the difference was that many people, mostly Christians don’t have that kind of passion for the Christian god or Jesus.  Is he bigger and ‘badder’ than other gods, or do Christians care less for their god? No, but they do separate god from who they are as people, they separate their god from the world, hold him dear and recognise that others may feel differently, but that this is ok.  They allow others the head space to say horrible things, because the words of others do not change their fundamental position on their belief.  There was a time when questioning religion was forbidden and in Catholicism it still is an issue, mostly for children, but that’s another issue for another day.  I suppose what we need to think of is who is doing the killing. Pew research centre (PRC) identified 50 countries that have blasphemy and apostasy laws, these include, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Malaysia and Sudan to name but a few.

In Pakistan, blasphemy is defined as ‘speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of god and the divine.’ (PRC) and it is a capital offence.  The consequences can be less harsh; there could be just a fine. At least 65 people have been murdered over blasphemy allegations since 1990, according to figures from a Centre for Research and Security Studies report and local media, and dozens more convicted for the crime are currently on death row in Pakistani jails. (Reuters 16 April 2017)

Is this law confined to Islamic countries, no, in 2014 in Burma (Myanmar) a New Zealander and 2 Burmese men were convicted of blasphemy, after depicting Buddha with headphones to promote a bar.  They were sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison.  So what is up-setting about this, the fact that is relates to drink, which is legal or that it relates to music which is about enjoyment, do Buddhist not like to have fun? Who knows, the only thing that is known is that there a 3 men languishing in jail, because god seems to want it that way. So we have people on earth who have never seen their god, but seem to know him so well, based solely on a holy book, as that seems to be the main source of information about him, they know what would up-set him, and based on this meagre piece of information, they can arrest, imprison and kill on his behalf and he neither confirm or refutes these murderous actions that are done to protect is ‘good’ name.

Ricky Gervais, the popular comedian and outspoken atheists, tweeted in 2013;-

Blasphemy – a law to protect an all-powerful, supernatural deity from getting it’s feelings hurt’ the poor grammar is his, not mine. (24 sept 2013 8:13am).

Mr Gervais raises a good point.  Who are these laws there to protect and why would perfectly rational people, and in Mr Khan case, educated people, suddenly group together and kill a transgressor? Maybe believers feel that god needs a bodyguard.  It feels more about ego, or politics or the feeling that ‘I am so religious, so righteous, I will kill for my god.’ We have Hindus that pierce their skin with needles or bits of wood, then walk around town with these jagged edged objects sticking out of their faces, all to show they are a messenger of god, chosen and special. This show of ‘god’s greatness’ seem only to be there to show each other how great the individual is.  Surely god knows he is great, the only people that need convincing are their neighbours.  What these believers seem to be saying to themselves and may feel that others will say about them, is ‘that if you as an individual allow something unpleasant to be said about your god, then what kind of believer are you.’  In America they have rap battle that start with ‘Yo Mumma….’ then an insult, a ‘good’ insult results in a fight breaking out. So could blasphemy be nothing more than a religious rap battle, that turns into gang violence…let’s bring in the NYPD to sort this mess out.

The question has to be asked do scripture condone these killings.  The Bible and the Quran have a lot of killing in them, god does seems to be the culprit of a fair proportion of it, but no real ‘if they say nasty things about me stone, beat or chop them to death, as was the fate of Sunnyur Rahaman, a secular blogger killed March 2013 in Bangladesh.

I would conclude that this is a man-made retribution, created not to protect an all-powerful god, but to show their friends and family that they are ‘true believers’ or messengers of god.  This murderous belief is supported by laws, condoned by law enforcement and encouraged and in some cases demanded by communities. To what end? What is achieved if you kill someone that offends god? Nothing, just the loss of a life, a life that religion claims to value, but in reality shows nothing but contempt for.

This post is written by Audrey Simmons, one of the organisers of London Black Atheists.

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