Media coverage banned in blasphemy case -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Media coverage banned in blasphemy case

ISLAMABAD- The additional district and session judge, Safdar Hussain Malik, has banned the media coverage of the proceedings of the blasphemy case being heard against a professor of a local Homeopathic college.

The court issued the orders at a time when prosecution witnesses, mostly students of the college where the accused, Prof. Dr Muhammad Younas, made the alleged blasphemous remarks, were being cross-examined by the defense counsel.

The court officials said the ban had been imposed to prevent the sentiments of Muslims from being hurt by the details of the proceedings.

According to the prosecution, the accused, who had been teaching at Capital Homeopathic College, G-912, Islamabad, made the blasphemous remarks during the course of a lecture on October 2, last, causing unrest and resentment among the students.

One of the students, Muhammad Asghar, who also served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lodged a complaint with the principal of the college, and also sent copy to the office bearers of “International Majlis-i-Tahafuz-i-Khatam-i-Nabuat.” The complaint was ratified by several students of the college. The office bearers of the said religious organization lodged an First Information Report (FIR) with the Margalla police station, under the blasphemy law.

The accused has already been indicted by the court, where he had earlier submitted an application, that he had firm faith in Islam and could not even think of passing a single blasphemous remark.

The council for the accused, Muhammad Hussain Chotiya, had claimed during the last hearing that the allegation was a conspiracy and an act of revenge against Dr Younas, because he had posed critical questions to an official of the foreign ministry.

He said the member of the religious organization, who had been cross examined during the last hearing, had conceded that without verifying the claim from other students and the principal of the college, he had lodged the report with the police.

The defense counsel cross-examined three of the witnesses, including the principal complainant. Muhammad Asghar Afridi, Majid Munir, a student, and the admin officer of the college, Tahir Ah.

The court adjourned the hearing till June 9, after the cross examination of the complainants.

Earlier, the accused was brought to the court under strict security arrangements, while a large number of activists from different religious organizations were present outside court.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/1/2001