The Canadian

At the end of 2007, after getting an uneventful background check from the FBI, I had fulfilled all the requirements for becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Thus, my status was changed from a convention refugee to a permanent resident.

I could only apply for citizenship after two years had passed since becoming a resident and so I did in late 2009. I got a letter from Citizenship Canada informing me about the time for the citizenship test in late 2010.

After a quick search, I found a database of multiple choice questions which test your knowledge of Canadian history, politics and geography. A couple of hours before the test, I plowed through one hundred questions on this website and got all of them right. The actual test had twenty questions. I know for sure that I got eighteen correct. The other two I'm not so certain; they were worded in such a way that more than one answer could be technically correct.

Unfortunately, Citizenship Canada does not specify the exact mark on the test. They only inform one about passsing or failing. To pass, one has to correctly answer at least sixteen out of the twenty questions. A couple of weeks after writing the test, they informed me of the time for the citizenship ceremony.

I arrived at the government building half an hour before the main event. I stood outside in the cool morning chill. I remembered that in Saudi Arabia one has to avert the eyes away from shiny objects -- cars, windows, any reflective surfaces -- because of the intense, scorching sunlight. So, the only place one can look is down.

I looked up and breathed in the free air. My heart thanked all those strangers who donated money for my lawyer whose expertise was valuable in front of the Refugee Board four years ago. How kind is fate. Most of my former countrymen consider it their religious duty to slaughter me but here in the West, a small Army of Infidel Davids saved my life.

I noticed some peculiar clouds but they couldn't be as I saw a plane high in the ether. Then one more, then another. All flying in the westward direction, leaving those long puffy lines behind them.

Sixty people, at that place, were becoming Canadian citizens on the day. The judge talked a bit about Canadian history. She shared some personal information with us. Her Asian grandfather was moved and put in a camp during the Second World War. Now, two generations later, his granddaughter was welcoming new immigrants to Canada.

There was a strange moment when we had to pledge allegiance to the Queen in English ... and then in French. I guess that makes the new Canadians doubly loyal.

I applied for a Canadian passport today. The process was surprisingly quick. By the end of this month, international travel for me will be a bit more comfortable.

It's All Good

I was cleaning up my room today and I came across a letter I received late last month. I had forgotten about it. Then I realized that I've been unintentionally deceiving my readers for all this time!

You see, I received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada some months ago. It told me to visit the Immigration Office within the city for an interview in late October. I put on my best clothes and went there on the scheduled day. Then in late November I got another letter.

At the top of my blog it says "convention-refugee". But that's not correct.

I'm now a permanent resident of Canada.

My permanent resident card was enclosed in the letter which I received in late November. I put it on the side of my room with my already-read books and I forgot about it -- out of sight, out of mind. Today I was throwing out old receipts and tidying up when I came upon it.

I just had to share!

Here's the essential history of my case:

  1. September 09, 2006: I write about the horrible meeting which took place with the refugee board on the previous day. This meeting was for setting the time for the hearing, during which a judge would decide whether my refugee claim has merit or not.
  2. September 09, 2006: The Blogosphere on fire!
  3. September 25, 2006: Why I am asking for asylum in Canada.
  4. November 09, 2006: Citizens of the free world -- from Israel, Australia, Britain, the US and Canada -- donate enough money to cover my legal fees.
  5. January 04, 2007: A most brief description of the hearing.
  6. January 08, 2007: A detailed post about the fateful hearing.

The Good and The Bad

I got a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The first two paragraphs:

This letter refers to your application for permanent residence as a Protected Person.

It has been determined that you meet the eligibility requirements to apply for permanent resident status as a Protected Person.

Yay! That's excellent news. In a little under four months after the hearing and massive amounts of paperwork, I got a beautiful response-

Oh, wait.

To continue processing your application, you [...] are to provide proof that you do not have a criminal record in the United States of America. You are required to obtain police certificates from the states of [...] and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Awww, man.

To do so, it is recommended that you contact your local police station to make arrangements for the most convenient time for them to take your fingerprints. You must take this letter with you along with photo identification. You will require a set of fingerprints for each state identified plus one set to be sent to the FBI.

Have I ever mentioned that I love bureaucracy?

The Marathon of My Life


I left Islam because of the reaction to 9/11 among Muslims. I read a lot about Muhammad, sharia, politics and current events for three years afterwards -- the increased knowledge reinforced my decision.

I started blogging in December of 2004 to share my experience and thoughts. Finally on September 11, 2005, I wrote about my apostasy.

Soon, I came to realize that my freedom was only temporary. You see, I am a citizen of Pakistan and my residence in Canada was based on a study permit. Eventually I would have to go back.

Could I say that Islam is the Greatest Thing EverTM; lie about my core beliefs; follow the religious rituals blindly without believing in them; praise Muhammad at every opportunity -- in essence, could I not rock the boat in Pakistan?

Yes, I could live as a slave but I didn't want to. In April 2006, I became a refugee claimant in Canada. I naively decided on a DIY approach. I filled out the forms, did the research and provided numerous supporting documents.

Then, in August 2006, I received a letter which asked for my attendance at the Immigration and Refugee Board, so that the time for the hearing could be set. (See this post for the details about that atrocious day.)

Right after I posted about my experience, many of my friends in the Blogosphere brought attention to my situation; numerous bloggers linked to my case; a donation button was set up; online supporters narrowed down legal help in my area; within a week I had made an appointment with a lawyer and in less than two months enough money was donated for the legal fees.

I removed the donation image but for many days afterwards folks still came over asking how they could help!


There were a few meetings with my lawyer in late 2006. He would ask me questions to get me ready for the hearing.

"Who do you fear in Pakistan?"

The Pakistani state and the public.


Because of the writings on my blog.

"But no-one knows who you are. You've used a pseudonym."

That assumes that I can go back and keep my beliefs to myself. Government forms (for example, the passport application) specifically ask for one's religion. And religion is woven in as a serious and integral part of society. Five prayers a day, fasting and worshiping Muhammad are part of normal life. When such matters come up, I will not lie.

"Why not?"

Excuse me.

"You can write your thoughts on the blog as Isaac Schrödinger and not worry about Islamic fundamentalists in real life."

So, you're saying that I continuously lie in my real life to get along.

"Sure, why not?"

My dad worked in Saudi Arabia for many decades. Every time he filled out application forms from Pakistan, he fibbed. He is an Ahmadi. Yet on every occasion, he refused to identify himself as one. There is no dignity in that.

And so on it went.

I had been sick in late December. My energy levels were close to zero on Christmas day. Fortunately by January 1, 2007 my physical strength had returned.


It was 4 a.m. on January 4. I had trouble sleeping. My brain was crunching horrible "What if?" scenarios. I told myself to not think about anything. After a few minutes, I was disturbed by the fact that I wasn't thinking about anything.

Somehow around 5 a.m. I did get to sleep. I woke up at 9 a.m. and started to get ready. I put on my suit, saw myself in the mirror and morbidly laughed. It looked like I was going to a funeral.

Along my route was a Church which had a big clock. 11 a.m. struck as I was passing by it. "Great, a soundtrack for my situation." The sounds did add an eerie touch. I looked up at the Church. "What beautiful weather! I can look up." I spent over ten years in Saudi Arabia where, because of the searing sunlight, I kept my head down.

Soon, I was in the hearing room in the heart of Toronto. The judge and I sat on the opposite sides of the room; in the middle-right was my lawyer; on my middle-left was a Refugee Protection Officer (RPO) and an RPO-in-training. The hearing started shortly after 1 p.m.

I stood up, raised my right hand, took an oath to tell the truth and said my full, real, name.

My lawyer started the questioning. We went over my history and how I came upon asking for protection in Canada.

The judge stopped us and asked, "What's a blog?"

I explained the whole concept. After a few minutes, it was time for the RPO to cross-examine me.

The judge, my lawyer, and the RPO all had copies of my applications and supporting documents. I was to answer questions without anything in front of me.

The RPO was establishing a timeline and so questions of a simple nature were initially asked. "When did you come to Canada?", "When was the last time you were in Pakistan?" and so on.

"I see here that you were asked to name your relatives and you didn't list your parents. Why is that?"

Uh-oh. I asked, "Where did I not list my parents?"

"Here in question four, it says list your relatives, in part iii. it asks for father and mother. Why didn't you list them?"

My mind started scolding could I forget such a simple thing...we've just scratched the surface and already I am being perceived as an incompetent buffoon... but, wait, I had photocopied the blank application, filled out the copy, double-checked it and then completed the real form!

My lawyer had opened the same page. After asking permission, I looked at the form. "4. List your relatives, ... iii. Father, mother and any guardian if you are under 18 years of age."

"I am over 18," I replied. "So, why would I list my parents?"


"No-one has brought that point up," said the judge.

"It's confusingly worded," said my lawyer.

"Let's move on," said the judge.

"Yes, of course, let's," I thought.

The questioning by the RPO can be "energetic" but what followed made the RPO, in essence, a prosecutor.

I often tried to elaborate my answers by a few sentences to provide more complete and accurate responses. However, the RPO was interested in "Yes/No" or a few words. Period.

For example: The RPO asked, "Have you seen a "letter to the editor" that is anti-Islamic fundamentalism in a Pakistani newspaper online?"

"Rarely. The reason fo-"

"Again, you're not answering the question."

"Yes, I've read such letters."

"I think he should be allowed to elaborate," said my lawyer.

The judge agreed.

The RPO asked, "What do you mean by rarely?"

"Once in a blue moon."

I shouldn't have said that, I thought. I added, "Remember that anyone in the world can send a letter to the editor of the online Pakistani newspapers. The sender can use a fake name and/or city, and from what I've seen the writers are often living outside Pakistan."

The RPO, quite unexpectedly, wanted, what seemed to be, an off the record conference without my presence. My lawyer questioned why I had to leave. The RPO had to talk about a credibility issue. I was told to wait outside for a few minutes. My lawyer gave his consent.

I stood in the quiet hallway.

"Credibility issue?" That's what it all comes down to. One person will decide my fate in a few hours.

I looked back over the heavy years: Do I regret starting my blog? Would I take anything back? Hell no!

I thought about the occasion: A birthday like no other.

My lawyer opened the door and let me in.

The RPO started to ask me about a few posts that I had submitted. I went over a comment left by a luminary in Distilled Evil.

I am a Muslim who has seen the truth about the jewish lies, and has realized Qur'an and Sunnah provides a perfect testament against the nature of your people.

Suddenly, I'm Moses.

We also talked about "No Compulsion". The RPO was going over each part methodically. Eventually, the RPO asked, "What's LFG?"

What a great blog, I thought. "That is an acronym for a blog called Little Green Footballs."

Then, I ALMOST blurted out, "You don't know the terrible secret of LFG" to explain why I affectionately use that incorrect short form.

"It's one of the most popular blogs in the world," I only added.

The RPO also asked me about life in Pakistan. "Can't you live in some place in Pakistan where you can be safe?"


"Do you know the word "secular"?"

Hunh. "Yes."

"Can't you live as a secular Muslim in Pakistan?"

"I agree with the first part, the secular part, but I don't agree with the second. I don't want to behave like, and live as, a non-practicing Muslim or a secular Muslim when I'm not a Muslim!"

That was by far my most animated and passionate response.

Then, it came time for the two sides to summarize their views. The RPO provided a mixed and lengthy conclusion. It wasn't completely negative nor positive.

My lawyer, however, provided a most concise and brilliant summary. He mentioned the recent history of Pakistan and Daniel Pearl.

He said that, "Why can't he ask for protection from the Pakistani government? How can he when the state itself criminalizes his views!? Look at Ordinance 295."

He went on to provide numerous examples from human rights reports.

"If he were to go back to Pakistan, then he would be in deep trouble."

There was some humor when once referring to me, my lawyer said, "Mr. Schro-," and then he corrected himself.

The judge asked for a few minutes to go over the evidence. The RPO asked for leave. The RPO-in-training left as well.

It was about 4:44 p.m. We had a 20-minute break at around 3:15 p.m. at which time I grabbed a bite. So, we had been in session for close to three and a half hours. The time had come.

The judge talked about the examples of persecution. The judge was very aware of the horrible conditions in Pakistan. Furthermore when talking about my views, the judge said, "I think these are your core beliefs -- what you say comes from the heart."

Then it hit me. The RPO, the in-effect prosecutor, had been a blessing in disguise. I had been brutally hammered for three hours and instead of falling apart, I held up.

"When deciding upon such cases, we have to look at a minimal level of danger and following the recent rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan, I think there is that danger for you."

"Accordingly, you are a Convention Refugee."

I closed and opened my eyes, "Thank you."

The superb lawyer and I exited the room and shook hands.

"Go and celebrate."

"It will be more of an online celebration," I said and then I thanked him.

There was a cool breeze, the hair got untidy, the tie was on my shoulder. My eyes tend to get watery in such circumstances. While crossing the road, I looked to my right and saw the CN Tower -- a solitary tear went down my right cheek.

"Oh, it's the wind."


Schrödinger's Army of Davids: Members of the Blogosphere, the folks who opened their wallets to help a total stranger, the netizens who tracked down legal help, my lawyer and finally the countless Westerners who wrote many words of support.

Special thanks to these blogs:

I have been granted something very precious and for this I'm grateful.

Judgment Day

I got a soar throat on December 21 and on Christmas Eve I was in full sickness mode: headache, running nose, coughing, zero energy. Only in the past two days has my physical strength improved.

And what timing it is!

You see, my hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board is coming up. It has been quite an arduous and conflicting wait.

There is a sense of tension: I'm between heaven and hell and after a few hours of examination one person will decide my fate. And then there is a sense of relief: finally, for good or bad, a decision will be made.

I have been fortunate to live in the West after abandoning the monotony and immorality of the cult of Muhammed.

Here's hoping the infidelicious journey continues.

Supported By You

A little less than two months ago, I put up the donation tab on my blog.

The amount needed for my legal fees: $2,500
Total amount donated: $2,555
Paypal fees: $93.76
Total amount received: $2,461.24

My legal fees, up to the day of my hearing, are fully covered.

All I can offer is a hearty thank you.

Refugee Case Update

Internet-folk have donated exactly $2,000 to me in less than a month. The total legal fees upto the hearing date are $2,500.

A month ago, I was anxious and depressed. Today, I have an excellent lawyer and my financial worries are gone.

You can also help by linking to this post (if you haven't already):

Fear and Loathing in The Land of the Pure

In the next two months, if you come across a story about Pakistan and its treatment of apostates or blasphemers, then I'd highly appreciate the link--you can leave a comment or email me.

Another thing: If you have a burning question that I could answer (considering my background), then don't be shy about asking. Though, it is very possible that you won't like my reply. An example is provided here.

Trackbacked at Old War Dogs.

Fear and Loathing in The Land of the Pure

I am a refugee claimant in Canada. This essay goes in great detail about why I am asking for asylum in the West.

Thank you to those who contributed the numerous sources. I hope that, at the very least, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada adds these resources to their national documentation package.

Isaac Schrödinger: An Apostate and a Blasphemer

I was born in an Ahmadi Muslim family in Pakistan. I’m a Pakistani citizen. The attack on the United States on September 11, 2001 and the reactions of Muslims to it changed my mindset. I left Islam in January of 2002.

I didn't share that information with anyone at the time. I was scared of the consequences. My family lived in Saudi Arabia and I traveled to that country every summer and during Christmas break. Upon entering Arabia, I would have to fill out an entry card which required one to specify their religion. My Pakistani passport clearly states that my religion is Islam and I didn't dare contradict that. So, for a long time, I kept my "unnatural" thoughts and beliefs to myself.

I haven’t traveled to Saudi Arabia since the end of 2003. In 2004, I had to apply for a national identity card. Again, I was asked for my religion and again I gave in and wrote Islam on the form. In 2005, I completed the application for a new passport and gave the same answer out of fear. I started blogging in December of 2004 under a pseudonym -- Isaac Schrödinger. On September 11, 2005, I explicitly wrote about my apostasy on my blog.

On October 8, 2005, I linked to and showcased a cartoon that was published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on September 30, 2005. The contents of the small post follow:

The prophet of the Religion of PeaceTM.


Note, I wrote that before the cartoon-rage-mayhem that erupted around the globe a few months later.

In January of 2006, I published a message for the citizens of Denmark:

If you're from Denmark, then know this:
Don't give in to the psychotic thugs and regimes of the Muslim world. These are the same people who keep half their population as slaves, hang homosexuals, behead alcohol consumers, treat kids with utter cruelty, "think" that Jews rule the world, and celebrate when Westerners are ruthlessly murdered. And yet they're offended by a few harmless cartoons.

It is you--the Danes--who should be appalled at the atrocious and wretched behaviour of such an odious section of humanity. Do not apologize for your exercises in freedom. Do not sacrifice your free speech at the altar of deplorable Muslim feelings.

Cherish your precious liberty and stand tall against these barbarians.

Want to see Muhammed? Here you go:


That image of the so-called Prophet Muhammed was to become very popular. In fact, if one were to search Google Images for "Muhammed", then the cartoon from my blog would show up as the first link out of about 19,900 results.

On April 3, 2006, I published a post about how Muhammed allowed, and was pleased with, the murder of a Jewish tribe. At the end of the post, I wrote:

It is vitally important that the West not put Islam or any other religion off-limits to critical analysis. For only in the West can a person safely write that the obliteration of a Jewish tribe, the taking of sex-slaves, and the confiscation of non-Muslim property is something not to be celebrated and emulated.

As one can see, I have a deeply negative opinion of Muhammed. I do not think that he was a Prophet and I think that he provides a shockingly immoral example to humanity.

Muhammed was a profoundly superstitious man. For example, a small matter such as selling dogs was considered illegal by him. (On September 8, 2006, the Mutaween in Saudi Arabia – the religious police – banned the sale of dogs and cats.) More significantly, I can’t agree with what Muhammed said about legal killings:

Narrated ‘Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."

I, of course, don't think that anyone should be killed for either leaving a faith or for criticizing a religious figure.

Robert Spencer:

[…] the great ex-Muslim Ibn Warraq noted in a statement read for him last year [2003] before the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (he could not appear in person because of threats on his life arising from the same Islamic principles): "The very notion of apostasy has vanished from the West… There are certainly no penal sanctions for converting from Christianity to any other religion." However, one who leaves Islam, he explains, "can be seen as someone unnatural, subverting the natural course of things whose apostasy is a wilful and obstinate act of treason against God and the one and only true creed, and a betrayal and desertion of the community." Thus his death is to be actively sought, so as to erase the stain on the community.

Azam Kamguian, an Iranian ex-Muslim, writes:

The moment you say that any idea system is sacred, the moment you declare a set of ideas to be immune from criticism, satire, derision, or contempt, freedom of thought becomes impossible. We must win the right to criticize the religion without fear of retribution. Criticism, free speech, is the foundation of an open society. We need to criticise and use reason to solve our problems. No belief, rational or irrational, scientific or divinely inspired, should be exempt from critical examination. If a belief is sound it will stand on its own merits. If it is not it deserves to fail. No religion should seek immunity from the examination of its claims, or seek freedom from moral criticism of its practices.


To the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: On September 9, 2006, I wrote about my meeting with a Canadian refugee officer. I said that the time for my hearing was set in early January 2007 and I directly quoted a part from the "Screening Form" that was presented to me during the meeting. That should be proof enough that I am Isaac Schrödinger.

Blasphemy Law
and Islamic Opinion on Apostates in Pakistan

From Appendix 1 of the Amnesty International library article on Pakistan in 2001:

The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) of 1860 dates from the British colonial period; sections 295 and 298 of the PPC relating to religious offences date back to that period and were intended to prevent and curb religiously motivated violence.

Later on:

Under Zia-ul-Haq, several new sections were inserted in the PPC in the 1980s; they differ significantly from earlier laws relating to religious offences in at least four ways: They do not specifically mention malicious intent to wound religious sensitivities as a condition for an action amounting to a criminal offence, and they provide vastly increased penalties. Moreover, they make specific reference to Islam whereas the earlier laws were intended to protect the religious sentiments of 'any class of people'. There is also a distinct shift in emphasis discernible: the newly introduced sections of the PPC do not make it a criminal offence to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims but rather define the offences in terms of an insult or affront to Islam itself. The offences consist in defiling or insulting the prophet of Islam, his companions and family members and desecrating the Qur'an.

Islamic societies consider their Prophet to be an infallible human. Any criticism of him is considered to be blasphemous. Today, Pakistan, a nation founded for Muslims, has one of the harshest blasphemy laws on the books. Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code states:

Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

Again, from the Amnesty International article:

In October 1990, the Federal Shariat Court ruled that ''the penalty for contempt of the Holy Prophet ... is death and nothing else''. It also noted that ''no one after the Holy Prophet ... exercised or was authorized [to exercise] the right to reprieve or pardon.'' It directed the Government of Pakistan to affect the necessary legal changes and added, ''in case this is not done by 30 April 1991 the words 'or punishment for life' in section 295-C, PPC, shall cease to have any effect on that date.'' Decisions of the Federal Shariat Court are binding on the government. As the Government of Pakistan did not appeal against the decision within the stipulated period and did not pass relevant legislation, the words 'or punishment for life' continue to appear in section 295C of the PPC but do not have legal force. The only punishment available for anyone convicted of blasphemy under section 295C PPC is death.

International Religious Freedom Report 2005: Pakistan:

Under the country's "blasphemy laws," any speech or action that denigrates Islam or its prophets is punishable by death. In addition, any speech or conduct that injures another's religious feelings is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment. These laws were rarely enforced, and the cases rarely brought to the legal system, when the injury was to a member of a minority religious community. Pressure from societal, religious, or political leaders routinely prevented courts from protecting minority rights. These same pressures forced justices to take strong action against any perceived offense to Sunni Islamic orthodoxy.

Perhaps, the current Pakistani regime will repeal the heinous blasphemy law.

In what appears to be an utter disregard of Pakistani religious minorities’ oft-repeated demand for repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, Pakistan minister for religious affairs Ijaz-ul-Haq [the son of Zia-ul-Haq] has insisted that the country’s blasphemy laws would not be repealed even if 100,000 Christians lost their lives, the Telegraph, based in the UK, has reported.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, went even further:

It is imperative to end racial and religious discrimination against Muslims and to prohibit the defamation of Islam.

The clerical view on apostasy in Pakistan [Email registration required] is straightforward:

A Muslim convert to Christianity in Afghanistan was saved by subterfuge (it was said he was mentally sick and therefore couldn’t be held accountable under any law for converting to Christianity) by the Kabul government from being done to death, triggering protests from the Islamists who wanted him killed. The clerical view in Pakistan that appeared in the press, too, wanted the man killed. Then Pakistan’s top cleric, Mufti Munib ur Rehman, who chairs the moon-sighting committee on Eid days, came on TV and announced that “if a state is truly Islamic” it would have to kill the apostate.

Persecution of Blasphemers in Pakistan
by the State and the Society

1. Amnesty International:

A case of blasphemy was registered against Yousuf Ali, a Sufi mystic and scholar of Islam, by a member of an Islamist organization on 29 March 1997 who claimed that Yousuf Ali had committed ''blasphemy by expressing his determination and views of being the continuity of Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)''. The charges included offences under sections 295A, 295C, 289A, 505(2), 420 and 406 Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Yousuf Ali was arrested on the same day. When the family received death threats from local religious extremists, Yousuf Ali's wife resigned her post as Associate Professor of economics at a government college and went into hiding along with their children.

The trial of Yousuf Ali was a mockery of justice:

The bias of the presiding judge was apparent throughout the trial. He called the accused Yousuf 'Kassab' [liar]. In the judgment, he said, ''there is no question of taking any sort of lenient view because the accused is proved to be a 'kafir' [infidel] and 'murtid' [apostate] and any sort of 'tauba' [repentance] in such affair cannot be entertained''. Judicial bias in the context of religious issues and with regard to minorities is widespread in Pakistan.

Yousuf Ali was sentenced to death:

After the conviction, Yousuf Ali was taken to a six foot by six foot death cell in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore where he was held in solitary confinement.

Yousuf Ali was murdered while he was in jail:

The circumstances in which a pistol could be brought into the jail and used against a prisoner in a death cell remain unclear. Local newspapers reported that on 11 June, prisoners from Block Seven, including Yousuf Ali, were shifted to Block One in an unscheduled move. As Yousuf Ali was taken to a cell in Block One, its inmate, Mohammad Tariq alias Mota pulled out a pistol and shot Yousuf Ali dead at point-blank range.

2. Amnesty International Report 2003:

Several men were sentenced to death for blasphemy. Others accused of blasphemy were killed, some in circumstances suggesting official complicity or acquiescence in the killings.

For example:

Zahid Mahmood Akhtar was stoned to death in July by a mob after a local Muslim cleric called for his death. He had claimed to be a prophet of Islam, and had been charged with blasphemy but freed on bail by a court in 1997 on account of mental illness. Police took no action for two weeks and then arrested several suspects.

3. Amnesty International Report 2004:

Pakistan’s blasphemy law continued to be abused to imprison people on grounds of religious belief, contributing to a climate in which religiously motivated violence flourished.

The example of Mushtaq Zafar:

In February, Mushtaq Zafar was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen. He was on his way home from the High Court while on bail in a blasphemy case brought against him by his neighbours. In November 2001, a dispute between Mushtaq Zafar and his neighbours apparently resulted in his house being set alight and shots being fired at him, killing a friend of his. The neighbours were arrested for the murder; court proceedings in the case were continuing at the end of the year. However, according to Mushtaq Zafar’s son, the neighbours’ family put pressure on his father to withdraw the murder case and the accusation of blasphemy against him was part of an attempt to intimidate him. Friends and relatives of the neighbours allegedly wrote to religious leaders, demanding Mushtaq Zafar’s death.

4. Amnesty International Report 2005:

At least 25 people were criminally charged with blasphemy and at least six of them remained in detention at the end of 2004. Hostility to anyone charged with blasphemy endangered their lives.

From the same report:

Samuel Masih, a 27-year-old Christian, was arrested in August 2003 and charged with having thrown litter on the ground near a mosque in Lahore. This was deemed an offence under section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which provides up to two years’ imprisonment for defiling a place of worship. Samuel Masih was held in a Lahore prison but transferred to hospital in May, suffering from tuberculosis. He died after his police guard attacked him in the hospital. The police officer stated that he had done his “religious duty”; he was charged with murder.

5. International Religious Freedom Report 2005:

On April 20, a mob in Spin Khak, Nowshera District, shot and killed Ashiq Nabi after his uncle filed blasphemy charges against him. Nabi allegedly desecrated a copy of the Qur'an during an argument with his wife. Before police could arrest him on the charges, Nabi fled the village. After a local Islamic religious leader issued an edict declaring Nabi an infidel whose punishment should be death, a 400-member mob trapped Nabi in a tree and shot him.

From the same report:

Converts to the Ahmadiyya community were often accused of blasphemy, violations of the anti-Ahmadi laws, or other crimes. The Government arrested and prosecuted such individuals. Conversion to other minority religions generally took place in secret to avoid a societal backlash.

Later on:

When blasphemy and other religious cases are brought to court, extremists often pack the courtroom and make public threats against an acquittal. Judges and magistrates, seeking to avoid a confrontation with or violence from extremists, often continue trials indefinitely. As a result, those accused of blasphemy often face lengthy periods in jail and are burdened with increased legal costs and repeated court appearances.

6. United Nations Commission on Human Rights. From Point 7:

The Blasphemy Laws in their present form have become a source of victimization and persecution of minorities in the country. Minorities suffer all manner of humiliation through false accusations made under these laws. In the present climate of hate, intolerance and violence in Pakistan, the Blasphemy Laws have become a major tool in the hands of extremist elements to settle personal scores against members of religious minorities, particularly Christians.

From Point 8:

In the present context, lawyers who appear in court on behalf of accused persons in blasphemy cases are the targets of intimidation and threats. The retired Judge of the Lahore High Court, Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who set aside the death sentence passed by the Session Courts in the case of Salamat Masih, and Rehmat Masih was shot and killed by an Islamic extremist. His killer, like that of Manzoor Masih, has not been brought to justice. In view of continuing threats and intimidation, it has become increasingly difficult to engage the services of lawyers to defend cases registered under the Blasphemy Laws.

Point 9 in its entirety:

In the climate of intolerance which prevails and in view of threats and intimidation and the pressures brought on the judiciary, it has become nearly impossible to obtain a fair hearing in Pakistan for those charged under the Blasphemy Laws. In these circumstances, the lower judiciary has often been constrained to accuse and convict persons without proper study of the evidence placed before it. In one case, the Sessions Judge convicted Gul Masih, who was charged under the Blasphemy Laws, and imposed the death sentence on him on the grounds "that the complainant had an outlook of a good Muslim, that he was a college student and that he had a beard". A number of cases are pending under the Blasphemy Laws, including cases against Ayub Masih, Nelson Munawar Rahi, and Catherine Shaheen. In addition, two Islamic religious organizations have announced a prize of PRs. 1.3 million for the killing of Salamat Masih, and Rehmat Masih who are at present living in exile.

7. The story of Dr. Younus Shaikh:

At a meeting of the South Asian Union on 1st October 2000, Younus Shaikh suggested that, in the interest of the people of Kashmir, the line of control between the Indian and Pakistani forces should become the international border. This clearly offended a Pakistani officer who responded by saying to Dr Shaikh that "I will crush the heads of those that talk like this". On 3rd October Dr Shaikh was suspended by his college without explanation.

Later that evening, an employee of the Pakistani Foreign Office, who was also one of Dr Shaikh's students, complained to a cleric, saying that on 2nd October in a lecture between 12:00 noon and 12:40 pm, the doctor had made blasphemous remarks about the Prophet of Islam. The cleric filed a complaint with the police. Younus Shaikh was arrested on the evening of 4th October and charged with blasphemy.

His trial:

The trial of Dr Shaikh, held throughout the summer of 2001, took place in a hostile courtroom packed with Islamic fundamentalists who warned the defence lawyers: "think of your families and children". The final two sessions were held in-camera with gun-toting Pakistani Taliban waiting outside. It was finally established during the trial that the alleged events had never taken place. Nevertheless, on 18th August 2001, Dr Shaikh was found guilty and sentenced to death. Sadly, in Pakistan, such injustices are not uncommon in cases of alleged blasphemy.

His retrial:

The retrial was held over three sessions in November 2003. In the light of the harassment and intimidation suffered by his lawyers at the earlier hearings, and much against the advice of the judge, his colleagues, his family and the members of the diplomatic community present in court, Dr Shaikh decided this time to conduct his own defence. The prosecuting counsel tried to exploit the religious feelings of the court but Dr Shaikh confined his defence to legal arguments and was finally acquitted on 21st November.

A few weeks after his release, Dr. Younus Shaikh fled to Europe. More from the article:

This week, one of Dr Shaikh's supporters, speaking anonymously from Islamabad said:

[…] "It is also a sad reflection on the state and society of Pakistan that even when individuals are exonerated by law of any guilt, they are forced to flee the country for their safety. The state or society is unable or unwilling to provide them protection. Dr. Sheikh was not at all eager to leave the country. If he had a choice he would have stayed with his family and friends. I could see his reluctance to leave the country written large on his face when I accompanied him to the airport."

8. A blasphemy suspect was stabbed to death in early 2006:

A Pakistani accused of making blasphemous remarks against Allah and the Prophet Muhammad was stabbed to death in a frenzied attack by two men in front of Muzafargarh district and sessions court on Friday, June 16. According to a press release sent to ANS by a group called At any Cost Jesus Mission, the killers, later identified as Imran and Iqbal, attacked and stabbed Abdul Sattar to death with frequent strikes of knives despite being escorted by police for a court hearing.


Abdul Sataar was detained in police custody under Pakistan blasphemy law. He was accused of passing derogatory remarks against Allah (God) and His Prophet Muhammad.

9. A blasphemy suspect flees Pakistan:

A Pakistani “blasphemy” suspect has appealed for asylum in Holland after facing police torture and attacks by Muslim extremists for his controversial religious views.

Yasaar Hameed, 36, applied for asylum in late March, meeting Dutch immigration officials for his first hearing on June 7. Still wanted on charges of blasphemy in Pakistan, Hameed told friends in Pakistan that authorities said it would take at least six months to process his application.

Hameed’s wife and two children remain in Pakistan where they face dual insecurity for converting to Christianity and for Hameed being sought as a blasphemy suspect. Hameed and his family converted to Christianity in 2004.

A colleague of Mr. Hameed was killed in 2003:

Mushtaq Zafar – Hameed’s co-defendant in the 2002 blasphemy charge and a political colleague of his – was released on bail in February 2003. On his way home from the courthouse, Zafar was ambushed on the road and killed by “unknown assailants,” daily newspaper Dawn reported on February 7, 2003.

The younger brother of Mr. Hameed was killed in 1998:

In addition to the legal accusations of blasphemy, “there were processions against us,” Hameed recounts. “First they were only in Lahore, and then it spread to the whole of Pakistan. Muslims threw petrol bombs on our houses and killed many of us. I was shot six times.”

Extremists murdered his younger brother – who had become a Christian – in March 1998.

Last excerpt:

Now living in Holland, Hameed hopes that his wife, 14-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter can soon join him. The Pakistani is living in the Dutch city of Arnhem near the German border.

Last week he underwent surgery to remove a bullet that was lodged in his shoulder from an extremist attack.

“It happened five or six years ago,” Hameed said in a telephone interview from Holland. The asylum seeker has been shot so many times, he said, that he cannot remember which incident left him with the imbedded bullet.

10. A blasphemy suspect gets life in jail:

The International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) honored Ranjha Masih, still serving his life sentence, with the newly established Stephen Endowment award in recognition of Masih’s “steadfastness in maintaining his Christian beliefs.”


Masih was arrested on charges of blasphemy in May 1998, allegedly having disfigured an Islamic sign during a funeral procession for former Faisalabad Catholic Bishop John Joseph. Ironically, Bishop Joseph had committed suicide in front of the Faisalabad courthouse to protest Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws.

Masih denied damaging the sign, and police testified in court that its invocation of Muhammad as the prophet of Islam was in perfect condition, lawyer Sindhu told Compass. But the Faisalabad Additional District and Sessions Court sentenced Masih to life imprisonment in April 2003.

Mr. Masih will get no respite even if he’s acquitted:

Masih, his wife and six children may face greater danger if Masih is acquitted.

“In case [Masih] is released, it is to be feared that he, like other acquitted Christian blasphemy prisoners, will have to live in hiding or outside of Pakistan,” an IGFM representative told Compass. “The threat from Islamic extremists and self-proclaimed guardians of sharia, Islamic law, would be too great.”

11. A teenage Christian jailed for blasphemy:

A Pakistani Christian jailed last week on suspicion of ripping book pages containing Quranic verses appealed to Punjabi police through his lawyer yesterday (September 21) for his case to be cancelled for lack of evidence.

He was implicated in a strange manner:

The young man allegedly tore pages from a tafseer, a book explaining Quranic verses, while stealing several books from a medical clinic in the Madina Town district of Faisalabad last week.

The charges are based on the testimony of Muhammad Ghaffar, who claimed he had carried out the crime with Masih.

More disturbing details:

Charges of blasphemy, whether real or invented, often draw the attention of fanatic Muslim groups, who are quick to take justice into their own hands when they believe a suspect has been unfairly acquitted.

Masih’s parents and 12 siblings were so afraid of negative attention from such groups that they at first refused to visit Masih in prison, lawyer Sindhu said.

Their fears appear to have been well founded.

More than 200 Islamist fanatics attended Masih and Ghaffar’s first hearing before Judicial Magistrate Ghullam Fareed Qurashi in Faisalabad on September 14, Sindhu said.

Extra-judicial killings of blasphemy prisoners in Pakistan are not uncommon.

Concluding Remarks

What I say is no more holy than what an Arab uttered fourteen centuries ago. Muslims, or for that matter anyone, can choose to read and criticize my words. That is the beauty of free expression.

The West, rightly, doesn’t penalize those who don’t follow the orthodox religious views in their community or leave a faith altogether. In fact, one can openly disagree with the teachings of a religious figure without worrying about being thrown in jail.

Unfortunately in Pakistan, those who dare contradict the "perfect" example of the Prophet Muhammed are treated most harshly by both the public and the ruling regime. For the sake of safety, one has to fib on applications that ask for religion and the "unnatural" thoughts have to be kept away from the family and the public view. A single rhetorical slip or an anti-Islamic action is enough for the charge of blasphemy.

I refuse to keep quiet about what I truly think. There is no dignity in denying one’s beliefs for the sake of elusive security.

To the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada: These facts and my statements should be weighed carefully for my life hangs in the balance.

Coming Up on Monday

I've divided up the massive post into four parts:

  1. Isaac Schrödinger: An Apostate and Blasphemer.
  2. Blasphemy Law and Islamic Opinion on Apostates in Pakistan.
  3. Persecution of Blasphemers in Pakistan by the State and the Society.
  4. Concluding Remarks.

The whole thing clocks in at 4300 words and I'm still not finished. The third part is gruesome and morbid; I shivered while writing portions of that.

I'll also send the post (or rather the Word document file) to my lawyer.

Refugee Case Update

1. I met and talked to a lawyer about my refugee case. This lawyer will represent me in the hearing in early 2007.

2. The total lawyer fees upto the hearing date? $2,500 Canadian.

3. Total amount donated since September 10, 2006? $1,493 Canadian. I can only offer small words: Thank you all.

4. I'll publish the big essay next Monday. That will be the post of the year. I'll also send it to FFI and Western Resistance and I'll post excerpts on Liberty and Justice and IBA.

5. I've made a new category: Schrödinger's Case. If you wish to read exclusively about the progress of my refugee case, then just click on that in the sidebar.

6. Sorry for the depleted blogging over the past 10 days. I'll make up for it.

Help The Little Blasphemer

I am a refugee claimant in Canada. My hearing will take place in early January 2007. I am a citizen of Pakistan, a nation which has a blasphemy law on the books--it's called Section 295-C:

Use of derogatory remarks, etc. in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine."

I started blogging in December 2004. Since then I have written quite a bit that would over-qualify for blasphemy. For example, in January 2006, I supported the showcasing of the Muhammad cartoons:

If you're from Denmark, then know this:
Don't give in to the psychotic thugs and regimes of the Muslim world. These are the same people who keep half their population as slaves, hang homosexuals, behead alcohol consumers, treat kids with utter cruelty, "think" that Jews rule the world, and celebrate when Westerners are ruthlessly murdered. And yet they're offended by a few harmless cartoons.

It is you--the Danes--who should be appalled at the atrocious and wretched behaviour of such an odious section of humanity. Do not apologize for your exercises in freedom. Do not sacrifice your free speech at the altar of deplorable Muslim feelings.

Cherish your precious liberty and stand tall against these barbarians.

Want to see Muhammed? Here you go:


Another example from April 2006:

It is vitally important that the West not put Islam or any other religion off-limits to critical analysis. For only in the West can a person safely write that the obliteration of a Jewish tribe, the taking of sex-slaves, and the confiscation of non-Muslim property is something not to be celebrated and emulated.

I have put a donation button on my sidebar:

The money will go towards paying for a professional lawyer. (Baron Bodissey of Gates of Vienna kindly offered the image.) [Update: I've changed the image to the one you see now for the sake of clarity.]

You can also help by publicizing my blog and my case. In the coming days, I'll publish a more detailed account. Your criticism and/or suggestions are welcome.

Full Strength and Support

A little over 24 hours ago, I was stressed out. Now, I feel perfectly fine. It's amazing what words of support can accomplish. I don't talk about my situation in the offline world, so it's quite overwhelming and heartening to see such kindness from so many commenters and bloggers.

A special thanks to Michael van der Galien for publishing the information at his blog, at the IBA, and at The Moderate Voice and for spreading the news and for getting an Instalanche! Thank you, Prof. Reynolds.

To the bloggers at:

You have my gratitude.

How The Time Was Set

I started getting ready for the big day at 4 a.m. I put on my suit and then went to Toronto. My meeting was at 9:30 a.m. I had breakfast and then entered the building at 8:45 a.m.

At about 9:50 a.m. all of us, five different claimants, were called into the meeting room. Our cases were similar and so were the rules that applied to us--these were relayed verbally. Two of the claimants had translators; one in Urdu, the other in Tamil. So, the person who was telling us about the regulations had to halt every few words for the deciphering. This got quite jarring after a few minutes. The entire talk in English / Urdu / Tamil took around 30 minutes.

After that we left the room. It was time for each case to be dealt with individually. I was called at around 10:45 a.m.

I was presented with a few documents such as the photocopy of my personal file and the supporting papers that I had provided them a few months earlier. A curious two-page document called the Screening Form was also given to me. Basically, in there, my claim was boiled down in a few words. I wasn't satisfied with the summary. In turn, the person(s) who made the Screening Form weren't satisfied with my claim.

For example, a part of the "Claim Description" in the Screening Form:

"PAKISTAN, Punjab, Lahore
Fear is unspecified/unclear
appears to fear persecution because of his anti-Islamic views."

Apparently, I have done an atrocious job of presenting my case. Fortunately, I still have three months to rectify the situation (since I can mail in documents at least 20 days before the hearing).

I asked a few questions about the summary. I was told that it comes down to credibility or rather the lack of it. The Refugee Protection Officer tried to console me by saying that that is the problem with everyone in my situation.

The officer made a phone call to schedule the time for my hearing. She inquired if X day in January is alright. I thought to myself for a second and then asked if it was possible to make it the day after that. The officer went back to the call and in a few seconds answered in the affirmative.

I left the building at 11:30 a.m. Leading up to the meeting, I tried to stay calm but somehow anxiety crept up ever so slowly. When I exited the building, I was mentally tired. I walked to the bus station in zombie-mode.

On the trip back, only one thought echoed in my mind: On my next birthday, I will fight for my life.

The Time is Set

My hearing will be in early 2007. One judge will listen to my case and decide whether I should be granted refugee status here in Canada or be deported to the lovely nation of Pakistan.

Tomorrow, I'll provide more details about my trip and the meeting. I only got a little over three hours of sleep last night during which I had the most vivid and the wackiest dream of my life. I'll share that as well.

Thank you all for your support, prayers, and comments.