Posts Tagged ‘blasphemy’

Treat the disease; not the symptoms


Originally Posted @ LahorePostBlog

Discourse over Blasphemy law continues. Though I reckon the ruling party as a partner in crime given their fallacious hopes to Salmaan Taseer just like they have been doing to the rest of the nation. Clearly, the confidence in his speeches portrayed obvious strong reassurances from somewhere. The depraved players of unscrupulous power politics later ditched him altogether after his demise.

Paradoxically, the sensitivity of the issue was not taking into account by the parliamentarians as well as the media from the very beginning until to-date, creating perpetual hype. Considering the incredible literacy and escalating radicalization that has happened in our society, it is not rocket science to comprehend that such susceptible issues be dealt by in-camera, low profile briefings. Nevertheless, our politicians are not unacquainted of  how to deal with unpopular laws. After all, they did manage to twist sections in 18 and19th amendments, but then it was their vested interests. The deception is such that while there is grousing over minority injustice, parts in these amendments actually halt fair judicial system in the country!

Only a strong government having credible performance to its credit can now amend or look into Blasphemy Law. Moreover, a farseeing approach is desired now. Where there operates the law of the jungle, where every law is misused, the constitution is disrespected, the judiciary is the most corrupt of all institutes, where the majority is barely getting any justice; how can the weak, the minor be delivered justice??? I m unable to correlate this. Concisely, every law is black here.

Having spent twelve fundamental years in a missionary school, I have utmost respect for minorities. For they are not mere a minor religious group, but mentors, guides and trainers for me. I can still feel church bells subconsciously in my ears. Likewise, having resided as a minority myself in the regimented world, I perceive the difference is that everyone’s on a tight rein there; the rich or the poor, the influential or the powerless and for that matter men or women and religious or non-devout.

Equality is not merely gender and religion related; it also pertains to the poor and the rich, the powerful and the weak. Had the lawyers and the human rights activists in Pakistan really toiled for a free and fair judiciary all these decades – minorities today would have been in a much better situation. I suggest, treat the disease and not the symptoms; be a doctor not a quack! The only solution is improved judicial system for everyone and fearless accountability.

Pertinently, it is disturbing to see same people defending R.Davis, who were outrageous regarding Qadri. What happened to humanity, justice, equal rights here?? Indeed a republic of fear, bigotry, and inequity. Both are killers, both must be condemned fervently for the sake of the rule of Law in the lawless land and both must meet their fate. Even if immune, waiving the right to immunity should be demanded as a rule. The hypocrisy and double standards on any end would only lead to more divides.

Actually, this would be the concrete test for our judiciary as well as the government. Albeit, I perceive and dread the day when both the assassins will be released with Qadri having a garland welcome or possibly the trials will linger on forever. May God bless Taseers & Ibads, Asias and Afias and the rest of 180 Mn Pakistanis in the land that is a jungle now.

Global Voices

Is profanity agreed on?


As Facebook, Utube & websites remain blocked in Pakistan, cynicism keeps pouring in. However, I for the first time agree with the steps taken by the Government on this issue, as advised by the High Court. I also see the whole chronicle as backfiring of an unresolved issue.

While browsing through the net, I came across few sane, insightful and intelligent responses from various un-biased and non-resident non-Muslims. I was pleased to see the understanding & depth of some of the readers.

Dean Nelson writes in his article in The Telegraph I‘ll tell u y Pakistan blocked Facebook & Youtube

The court’s decision has been widely criticized, but it is an understandable one in a country where the overwhelming majority of people are deeply religious and passionate in defending the dignity of their Prophet. It wasn’t so long ago Britain had a concept of blasphemy and people cared enough to protest against unflattering depictions of Jesus – I’m old enough to remember the release of Monty Python’s The Life of Brian and the reaction it caused among Christians.
The Life of Brian, of course, at least, was funny. It was a story of mistaken identity rather than an attempt to demean a prophet and insult his followers. The “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” site, on the other hand, features childish and gratuitously offensive pictures of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog with a detonated bomb as a turban.

It’s easy to see why Pakistan’s judges thought it easier to shut down Facebook than face widespread chaos and violence by upholding “freedom of expression” of anti-Muslim bigots.

I have an acquaintance who drew Mohammed for this Facebook thing, but I will not. I am a Jew and I follow Hillel’s famous quotation, “that which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.” Would I want a Muslim to make insulting cartoons of my religious leaders? No. Do I like my beliefs being mocked? No. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should–   Shannon W. comments in Christian Society Monitor.

“Always stand up to the bullies on the playground ” says Anonymous.

Jesus, the Bible and the Koran are important parts of the Islam religion, and faithful Muslims have high regard for them and treat them with respect. It is forbidden – and considered very disrespectful – to create or distribute any image of Mohammed. To create patently disrespectful images is an intentional slap in the face to all Muslims. It is not funny. It is more than a question of free speech. It is a question of mutual respect – which must exist if we hope to ever achieve world peace – comments MS Wakonda

“Everything concerning religion is not conservative & outdated as is being considered” – says me!!

I agree, we may not be good Muslims and yes, there are other ways to express love for the Prophet, but respect & association with the prophet is the Step1- vital and central. Had it been something related to one particular sect, I would have least bothered. But Muhammad is symbolic to all Muslims – an emblem of Islam. I consider it lowest degree of insensitivity not to condemn the issue. In fact, I believe, this is the lone subject where mullahs & liberals & seculars etc, could all be together on.

Nonetheless, we should also pass a resolution to turn ourselves into better, practical Muslims – Just, trustworthy and tolerant. We muslims must adopt the real spirit of Islam. Develop magnanimity & selflessness. Being mute & numb over the issue, however, would depict inconsiderateness on our part. It’s about defending your religious belief & not just regarding one page of FB.

Argument is, it is maligning the image of Pakistan abroad & the issue has gained undue publicity. I guess, to what extent do we have to compromise on our honor & dignity to create a soft and enlightened image abroad? Or do we need justice, education, science & tech and research for that purpose. Not to forget, a non-corrupt government.

If protests over blasphemy are smearing the image of Pakistan and has acquired uncalled-for media hype, than let it be. In an ignorant society like ours, people refrain from reporting rape & molestation for the very same reason. Do you consider this attitude of the society healthy?

Most important, so much for the freedom of speech, I would like to discus the issue in comparison with the laws against anti-semiticism. How are they not violating mankind’s freedom of expression? Why they are justified, but protesting against offensive caricatures of a highly regarded religious mentor is not? Free expression, is it? Mind you, speaking against holocaust & even displaying Nazi symbols is a crime & not mere an offense.

 I fully respect & support such laws, not that I m scared of !! But because I understand the sensitivity of the issue & I don’t accept dishonorable, hurtful, racist and disrespectful attitudes especially towards such delicate matters in the name of freedom of expression. I am against mockery, prejudiced and hatred speech of any kind, which is personal & sensitive to any religion, belief & community. But than, I expect to be respected back regarding my religion beliefs too. However, those of you, who want unrestrained free speech kindly, dare say something against the above mentioned laws!! I would like a decent, constructive discussion on this.

Here are few of the legislations against hatred concerning Jews. Google, for more details. In at least ten European countries denial of genocide is prohibited. And the new US bill extends it to the whole world. Remember, it’s a crime now in the whole world.

In Spain, The denial of the existence of genocide is a criminal offense which carries a sentence of between one and two years.

French Law sets stiffer punishments for offenses against an anti-Semitic or racist background. According to the French Penal Code, the display of Nazi symbols is a criminal offense.

In 1989, the Brazilian Senate passed a law prohibiting the manufacture, trade and distribution of swastikas (Nazi symbols). Anyone who breaks that law is liable to serve a prison term from between two and five years.

In Denmark, In general terms, presentation in public, use or wearing of Nazi symbols is not prohibited, except in cases in which the use of Nazi symbols is with the aim of offending a specific group, then the use of these symbols in prohibited.

Viola! United Nations, in 1992, declared that anti-Semitism must be recognized as a danger that must be fought against by legal mean. The UN should make such a declaration concerning similar issues other faiths are confronting.

 In Britain. So far there is a draft proposal that’s has yet to be passed into law by the British Parliament. The Holocaust Denial Bill. According to this proposal, denial of the Holocaust, orally or in writing, would be declared an offense. Of note is the fact that the original draft proposal referred solely to the extermination of the Jewish People by the Nazis, but the revised proposal also included the definition of similar crimes as crimes against humanity.

This is rather a fundamental milestone and a good gesture on part of British. It proves Britian,s stance on equality & justice for minorities. I hope the new British government endorses the revised version of the bill and can be role model for the rest of the world including the muslim governments.

Most imperative and somewhat controversial is the US Global Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, applicable to the whole world. Yes, that now includes us as well! In 2004, the United States House of Representatives and Senate approved a comprehensive proposal giving the State Department the authority  to see for outbreaks of anti-Semitism and racism in the world.  

 According to the law, the State Department will have to produce an annual report on anti-Semitism around the world and design strategies to counter them.It includes acts of physical violence against Jews, their property, cemeteries and places of worship abroad, as well as local governments’ responses to them and take note of instances of anti-Jewish propaganda and governments’ readiness to promote unbiased school curricula.

Well; I support the US bill. But, with a hope that in the long run, this legislation should be extended to other religions, including Muslims and should be enforced similar to the anti-Semitic protection laws. Doing so will also help fight extremism, I am certain of that. Since these guys will now not have the excuse of being treated with inequality and injustice. International community including the UN & the US must play their role wholeheartedly. Initiating, enticing & than supporting blasphemic content only flares up fundamentalism. This gives extremists an excuse to verify their ideologies.

The crucial point to note here is, what mullahs have been protesting violently in recent years because of the disorganized Islamic world, has already been turned into legislation in a civilized manner, either by lobbying or by parliaments in the developed world.
 
 However, irony is that, over the last few days, Pakistani educated elite have drained their energies proving that the ban was un-called for. I believe, instead they should channelize their energies in a constructive and organized manner to promote the issue at international newspapers and blogs and ask over for a permanent solution to the issue i.e. legislation similar to Global Anti-semiticism Awareness Bill for Muslims and other religions. I feel, over the years, we Pakistanis have lost respect for ourselves and have fallen into an inferiority complex.

Nevertheless, possibility of Pakistani government taking advantage of the situation cannot be ruled out. Even if they have wicked motives, believe me, they r lousy enough to keep bringing more grave issues and the circus will carry on. Give them a short break!  For a change, go out and chill with your family. The daddy judge on the bench might also be dying to spend some quality time with his FB addicted children!

FB,Wiki,Utube blocked over blasphemy


PTA has blocked youtube & Wikipedia as well after Facebook and Foreign office has recorded protest over blasphemy offense at international level. I personally agree with the facebook ban & protests all over Pakistan against “Draw Muhammad Day”, however, I think blocking Blackberry & now youtube is a bit extreme.

Nonetheless, International media must play their role with responsibility, especially while dealing with such delicate and sensitive issues. If the world is talking about promoting inter-faith harmony, than the world must realize now how sensitive Muslims are when it comes to Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). Not understanding their sentiments will only amplify clash between civilizations. Especially when people among them prevented publishing of Jesus caricatures considering it will hurt emotions of many. There should not be double-standards in the name of “freedom of speech”.

Ideally & per FB rules, the group should have been deleted by the FB admin themselves long ago, just like they do with other offensive and violent stuff. FB is a world renowned website, much trusted & appreciated. So whether it was some other minor site as well,it doesnt matter. Not doing so itself shows violation of their own rules & regulations and double-standards, and I guess it is sane and humane that it should be protested in someways. Remember how a 20K Zaid Hamid page was brought down by them considering it offensive!! It would have been, but likewise the world knows how offensive caricatures are for Muslims.

There is varied response. Some consider it exaggerated & emotional reponse.Some people are objecting even FB ban, stating that it has only spilled the dirt which was previously limited to one page. I disagree with that. As a general rule, I consider it cowardice & immoral to hide or cover up any offense or wrongdoing.

If you do not condemn an offense, you will eventually become sensitized & empathic. Pakistanis have already done that looking at the worsening state of affairs over decades & ill response of the public. This objection against cartoon at least indicates we still have some gairat left. It is good to see all united on 1 platform irrespective of sectarian differences. 

I totally agree with the fact that muslims must first develop themselves into the character Muhammad preached. I am a strong believer & promoter that the change should b from within. I condemn people camouflaging themselves with beards, and tasbeehs. But, the fact is muslims have an inborn association & love with the Prophet which even the least practicing ones cannot negate. Hence, emotions play and such reaction to blashemic content naturally happen. 

 I m pleased to see their r Pakistanis who can understand the depth of the issue. As Atiqa Odho, puts in on her twitter account “20th May Fb ban is a symbolic gesture to support our religious belief. Kindly stand up for what is offensive to us”

Pakistanis are already missing FB, apparent from the rolling texts & online discussions. I do sympathize with all the farmers of Farmville though. Hope their farms survive the 10 day ban!!

Compiled from my comments on twitter & blogs. 

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