PAKISTAN: Supreme Court approached on cartoon issue

Attorney asks Supreme Court to approach International Court of Justice against countries that publish Prophet cartoons

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Islamabad --- The Supreme Court was requested on Tuesday to direct the government to move the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against countries where blasphemous cartoons were published and to recall ambassadors, from the countries.

Invoking the apex court's original jurisdiction under fundamental rights, a constitutional petition was filed by Karachi-based lawyer Maulvi Iqbal Haider, stating that the government had failed to perform its obligatory duty of approaching the ICJ.

Pakistan, being a Muslim member of the United Nations, could move the ICJ under the UN Charter and therefore, the apex court should direct the government to file a case on behalf of Pakistani citizens, the petition said.

The federal government and secretary of the ministry of law and justice are respondents in the petition which terms the matter of great public importance as it hurt sentiments of over a billion followers of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him).

The petition also urged the court to direct the government to sever diplomatic ties by recalling ambassadors from countries where the cartoons were published.

Citing examples of Libya, Saudia Arabia, Syria and Indonesia, which recalled their ambassadors from these states, he said that the cartoons' publication was a flagrant violation of many international laws and covenants, like the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and the Code of International Human Rights as well as judgments of many European courts.

Govt asked to sever ties with Europe in protests against blasphemy

Karachi --- Lawyers and political parties on Tuesday staged protest demonstrations and took out rallies against the publication of blasphemous cartoons demanding the government to sever ties with the European countries where the cartoons were published.

Local lawyers staged a big protest rally in front of the Karachi Bar Association terming the publication of the blasphemous cartoons an engineered conspiracy against Muslims.

Speaking to the rally, organized by the Islamic Lawyers' Movement (ILM), the Naib Amir of the Jamaat-i-Islami and President of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Sindh, MNA Asadullah Bhutto, said the west had initiated ‘journalistic terrorism' in the name of press freedom.

He said the outrageous publications couldn't be justified on the basis of the right of freedom of expression. "Freedom of press is subject to the maintenance of public order, tolerance and reverence of all religions and their revered figures."

He said the Muslims reserved every right to protest over the blasphemous cartoons. He said the cartoons might lead the world to a clash of civilizations. He criticized the government of Pakistan for its silence over the issue.

The ILM President, Syed Abdul Waheed Advocate, said the blasphemous cartoons had violated the international convention on elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, which outlawed hate speech and incitement to racial hatred.

He said publication of the cartoons was a deliberate attempt to ridicule Islam. He called for punishing according to international law all those involved in the conspiracy.

The JI Karachi Chief, Merajul Huda, said the cartoons had compelled the Muslims to protest. They will not remain silent over the blasphemous act and instead will lay their lives for the protection of their Prophet's (SAW) sanctity, he added.

He said that anti-Islamic forces had joined hands and were engaged in maligning and tarnishing the image of Muslims by portraying them as terrorists and extending insults and humiliation to them.

MMA MPA Nasrullah Khan Shajji said the superpower and its allies were engaged in the genocide of Muslims. He termed the blasphemous cartoons part of the ‘unholy' agenda of the Bush administration against the Muslims. Other senior lawyers also spoke.

Later, Asadullah Bhutto announcing the future course of action said protest demonstrations, protest rallies and strikes would be observed in the current and coming months.

He said a doctors' rally would be staged on Feb 16 at the Civil Hospital, women will protest at the Mazar-i-Quaid on Feb 18 while a protest demonstration by children will be staged on Feb 19.

The lawyers announced full support to the strike call given by religious and political parties on March 3 and to the million march on March 5.

The lawyers were holding banners and placards inscribed with slogans against those involved in publication of the blasphemous cartoons. They also chanted slogans against them.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf observed a protest demonstration against the blasphemous cartoons on Tuesday.

The demo led by Dowa Khan Sabir, the PTI's Sindh Secretariat in-charge, was later converted into a mass procession.

The protestors demanded that the people of Pakistan must launch an economic boycott of European countries.

They also demanded of the government to express its disapproval of western policies, which had made a serious dent in the feelings of the ummah.

They further added that the government of Pakistan should sever its diplomatic ties with the involved European countries. The demonstrators voiced emphatically that perpetrators of the blasphemous cartoons must be brought to book at all cost with no exception and urgent apologies should be extended to the Ummah.

They vowed to continue protest till the involved countries tendered their apologies.

The Awami Himayat Tehreek Pakistan also on Tuesday staged a protest demonstration against the insensitiveness of Western rulers against the publication of blasphemous cartoons.

The demonstrators chanted slogans against the accused newspapers and Western countries and demanded an apology from them.

Central Coordinator of the AHT Imran Shahzad and other speakers demanded of the Muslim world to severe economic and diplomatic ties with the involved countries.

They said the party's founder, Maulvi Iqbal Haider, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, praying that the government should be advised to file a suit against the accused cartoonist and the newspapers in the International Court of Justice.