On November 5th Pakistani police arrested 45 people in eastern Punjab on suspicion that they were involved in the killing of a Christian couple the day before. The two Christians were accused of desecrating the Koran (the Moslem bible) and were burned to ashes in a brick kiln. Pakistan still has severe blasphemy laws that are mostly used by Moslems against innocent Christians and other non-Moslems, but sometimes against other Moslems. Efforts to repeal these laws, or at least limit their misuse, are violently resisted by Islamic political parties.
Police, and many who knew the dead couple, suspect religion and sacrilege had nothing to do with this incident. That’s because many of these spontaneous “blasphemy” incidents later prove to be killers using religion to get away with murder. Many Pakistanis still remember in infamous 2012 case where a court conducted an investigation of one such incident and confirmed suspicions that a 14 year old Christian girl had been framed by a Moslem cleric for desecrating a Koran several months earlier. The girl was then murdered.
This sheds unwelcome attention on that fact that not all terrorist related deaths in Pakistan are the work of Islamic terrorists in the northwest and not all the deaths described as related to religion are. Many use religion as a cover for some more secular reason. In the case of the 14 year old girls, it was to shut up the victim of sexual assault. For others it was revenge or to terrorize some other group just for being different. Nevertheless Pakistan has recorded nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to religious intolerance in the last 25 years. These usually involve violence against different forms of Islam (usually Shia) as well as against Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews and others. Most of these 5,000 Pakistani deaths have occurred since September 11, 2001, when it became easier to claim religious fervor as an excuse for killing someone, and get away with it. Religion based violence has been on the increase in Pakistan starting in the 1970s when the government basically legalized a lot of it. At first not a lot of people took advantage of it. But gradually more and more did.
Since 2001 there have been over 20,000 terrorism related deaths in Pakistan, nearly all of the victims were other Moslems that Islamic terrorists accused of not being Islamic enough and thus, according to their murderous logic, not Moslems at all and deserving of death. Yet most of these deaths are not classified as resulting from religious intolerance. There is a widespread tendency by Moslems and non-Moslems alike to downplay the religious basis for Islamic terrorism. Why that is so is hard to say. Apparently it’s partly due to political correctness, the self-image most Moslems prefer to use and billions spent by oil-rich Arab states over several decades to support this worldview in the UN and international media. In any event a lot of Pakistanis, including most Moslems, are getting tired of it.