The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is
horrified to learn that two people belonging to a minority religious sect in Pakistan were
murdered shortly after a broadcaster on one of the country’s main television
channels urged viewers to kill “blasphemers” and “apostates” as a religious
According to available information, Amir Liaqat Hussain,
anchoring a program on religion on the widely viewed GEO TV on September 7,
declared that the murder of members of the Ahmadi sect was the righteous duty
of people of the Islamic faith.
He followed up by urging two other participants on his
program, who belonged to different denominations of Islam, to endorse his
viewpoint. Hussain, who is a former minister for religious affairs in Pakistan’s
federal government, reportedly obtained the endorsement he sought.
On September 9, Hussain answered a query on a phone-in
program with the comment that those guilty of the alleged sin of blasphemy
should be put to death.
Within 18 hours of the first broadcast,
Abdul Manan Siddiqui, a physician in
the city of Mirpur Khas, in Sindh province,
was murdered. He was the head of the Ahmadi community in Mirpur Khas, according to news reports.
The doctor was reportedly called out of his clinic on the
afternoon of September 8 by six people who claimed to have brought a patient.
Siddiqui was shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard and a woman
passer-by were also injured in the attack.
The following day, Sheikh Muhammad Yousaf, a 75-year-old
rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect, was killed in the city of Nawab Shah, also in Sindh
province. He was reportedly shot at by motorcycle borne assailants.
The IFJ joins its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of
Journalists (PFUJ), in condemning the incitement to violence apparent in the
language used by Hussain and his two interlocutors.
“Under legal standards for curbing hate speech in the media,
the burden of proof is on Amir Liaqat Hussain and the channel that broadcast
his program to establish that they do not bear some responsibility for the
murder of two innocent men,” IFJ Asia-Pacific said.
“Media outlets must implement measures to ensure their
content abides by ethical principles, including curbs on hate speech, both in
the interests of promoting tolerance and also to ensure there is no opening for
state authorities to intervene in the expression of fair comment.”
The IFJ welcomes the PFUJ’s initiative in drafting a code of
professional ethics and opening discussions with other stakeholders in the Pakistan media
to seek agreement on measures for the code’s implementation, including by
establishing an independent Media Complaints Commission.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents
over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries
To read a letter from GEO responding to this press release, please click here: