IFJ Condemns Inflammatory Broadcast and Link to Murders in Pakistan

 

 

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

duty.

 

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.

 

For further

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:

Geo International Press Release.pdf