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Members of a civil society group participate in a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to the Sri Lankan citizen Priyantha Kumara, who was lynched by a Muslim mob in Pakistan. AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary

Understanding the history and politics behind Pakistan’s blasphemy laws

A scholar of Islam explains how Muslim religious leaders, starting around the year 1050, worked with political rulers to challenge what they considered to be sacrilegious influence on society.
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, one of the landmarks in Brunei. Brunei recently announced punishing gay sex by stoning offenders to death. AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Harsh punishments under Sharia are modern interpretations of an ancient tradition

Some Islamic nations, including Brunei, have harsh punishments under Sharia. In pre-modern times, Sharia was rarely used as criminal law, and standard of proof for any prosecution was very high.
A mosque in Herat, Afghanistan was attacked on Aug. 1, 2017. Mohammad Shoib/Reuters

What is the Shia-Sunni divide?

There have been several attacks on Shia mosques in several parts of the world. At its heart is the centuries’-old sectarian Shia-Sunni divide.

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