Samsung Pakistan Blasphemy Row: Company issues apology after protests in Karachi - here's what happened

Pakistan is among one of 32 Muslim-majority countries that impose harsh penalties for blasphemy

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Saturday, July 02, 2022, 05:39 PM IST
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The streets of Pakistan's Karachi on Friday witnessed angry mobs of men burning down Samsung billboards after the South Korean multinational was accused of blasphemy. The company, meanwhile, issued a statement and said it has the utmost respect for all religious sentiments and beliefs.

Here's what happened:

According to Dawn, a Wi-Fi device had been installed at the Star City Mall in Karachi which allegedly played comments against the Prophet Muhammad's companions. The mob then vandalised Samsung billboards and accused the company of blasphemy.

Reportedly, 27 people of the company were detained. The Wi-Fi device was also turned off and seized by the police.

The police said that an inquiry committee has been constituted to investigate the matter and if anyone was found involved in blasphemy, strict legal action would be taken against them.

The police with the help of the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) CyberCrime Wing are also trying to find out who was responsible for installing the Wi-Fi device.

Meanwhile, Samsung Pakistan issued a statement and said that it remained unbiased regarding religious beliefs. The company added that internal inquiries into the situation had immediately begun.

“Samsung Electronics has reiterated its firm stance that it endeavors to maintain objectivity on all matters of religious significance. With reference to the recent developments in Karachi, Samsung Electronics stands firm on its stance that the company has the utmost respect for all religious sentiments and beliefs and holds the religion of Islam in utmost respect,” it said.

Blasphemy arrests and mob violence continue to escalate in Pakistan as blasphemy laws are leading to the erasure of atheist identities.

Pakistan is among one of 32 Muslim-majority countries that impose harsh penalties for blasphemy, apostasy, or atheism, and one of 12 that punishes these "crimes" with death. The atheists, agnostics, and other dissenters of Islam in the country are fast losing their safe spaces online, which they had built to dodge the institutionalized threats engulfing them, media reports stated.

After the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) in 2016 co-opted the harsh clauses of the Pakistan Penal Code, blaspheming online became a capital crime.

In 2017, immediately after passing PECA, Pakistan issued its first death sentence for digital blasphemy. The same year, the state launched a crackdown on online dissent and atheism, urging the masses to 'report blasphemers,' going so far as to abduct and torture activists and bloggers for dissent against the military establishment and Islamic hegemony.

Since Islamic hegemony helps the state, especially the all-powerful military and radical Islamist groups, maintain its autocratic control, it has been in the rulers' interest to silence all forms of dissent, DailyDot reported, citing sources.

However, some Pakistani atheists believe that their free-thinking kin will hopefully have their day.

Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) law goes on to intimidate Pakistan's marginalized communities by giving power to those who are reigning in the top powers. The Pakistan government has also urged Facebook and Twitter to help in identifying the blasphemers on their platforms and has also issued warnings to cell phone users, regarding the perils of sending blasphemous texts by the PTA.

(With ANI inputs)

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