Imran Khan is a cricket player who has gone into philanthropy and then politics in Pakistan, and until now is the leading candidate for prime minister in the upcoming elections (despite a #metoo problem a decade old). He has, however, committed blasphemy, which is a very big deal in Pakistan, so it will be interesting to see how events unfold.
Khan’s offense is to claim, implicitly but incontrovertibly , that the teachings of Mohammed are so unpersuasive, and his person so unprepossessing, that Islam needs the protection of a murderous regime of capital punishment and vigilante justice. This regime is a matter of national law (article 295c of the constitution), and Khan just came out in support of it. The killing is not only judicial: in Pakistan, people are also lynched if they say something a tinpot local vigilante, or just a small-time religious nut, or for that matter a guy who thinks you looked at his sister funny, wish to view as disrespectful to the prophet, and the body count is not trivial. Along the way, this savagery devalues all professions of genuine faith, as who can tell whether they are sincere or just fearful?
Remarkable in the extreme that a national figure can show such disrespect for the prophet, adherents, and doctrines of his own faith, especially as Islam has a pretty good record (independently of episodes of conversion by the sword), attracting adherents by teaching and preaching its intrinsic merits, over 14 centuries. It’s hard to imagine a more abject surrender of the high ground than “actually, I got nothin’ but this gun to shoot you with.” I have no special case for Khan either way, but I hope he at least survives this suicidal episode.