Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Waiting to hit the bottom on Pakistan's blasphemy law...

by Salman Hameed

Just when we think that the blasphemy accusations in Pakistan cannot get any crazier, we turn out to be wrong. The latest case is that of an 11-year old Christian girl - possibly with a Down Syndrome -  who is accused of blasphemy for burning pages of a booklet (not even the Qur'an itself) that teaches how to read the Qur'an. From Express Tribune:

An 11-eleven-year old Christian girl was accused of blasphemy and arrested for allegedly burning pages of a Noorani Qaida, a booklet used to learn the basics of the Holy Quran. 
Officials of the Ramna Police Station told The Express Tribune that the girl, named Rifta Masih, had burned a Noorani Qaida on August 16 and threw it in garbage after putting it in a plastic bag. Masih belonged to the rural area of Mehrabadi, which is next to the G-11 sector in Islamabad. 
Soon after the incident, residents of the area had gathered to lodge their protest. The protesters also allegedly beat up the girl and her mother, while the rest of the girl’s family managed to escape. 
The Kashmir Highway was also blocked by the protesters, but they dispersed after the police lodged an FIR of the case and took Rifta into custody.
This case is not in some remote area of Pakistan. Instead, this is close to Islamabad. All we can do is to constantly raise our voices against such acts and the laws that allow these things to happen.

Here is an excellent article by Mahdi Hasan in reaction to this episode:

I, for one, am fed up with politicians, mullahs and mobs using my religion to further their own vicious and sectarian agendas. So here's my own very simple message to the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world: whatever intellectual or theological disagreements we may have with them, the fact is that Christians (and, for that matter, Jews) are our brethren; the Quran respectfully refers to them as the "People of the Book". Nor should we extend our tolerance, compassion and solidarity only to members of Abrahamic faiths while demonising and discriminating against everyone else. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists - all of them are also our brethren. Don't believe me? Listen to the verdict of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the great Muslim caliph and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad: "Remember that people are of two kinds; they are either your brothers in religion or your brothers in mankind." 
The imprisonment of this Christian child isn't only about Pakistan or Pakistanis. Those of us who claim to be members of a global Muslim ummah cannot be silent when such flagrant human-rights abuses are committed in the name of Islam and in the world's second-biggest Muslim-majority nation. Denial is not an option, nor is turning a blind eye. We have to speak out against hate, intolerance and the bullying of non-Muslim minorities - otherwise we risk becoming complicit in such crimes. "Not in my name" has to be more than just an anti-war slogan.
Read the full article here.

And this is not just about the treatment of Christians. The Ahmadis are treated even worse. That despicable bigot, Aamir Liaqat, is back on TV after his incendiary remarks about Ahmadis - and he is being assisted in his bigotry by the "father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb", Dr. A.Q. Khan. As long as people feel safe to make hate-statements against minorities in such an open manner, we will keep on seeing violence against the minorities. They are an easily identifiable target. The national identity card in Pakistan identifies the religion.

Here is an NPR report on the return Aamir Liaqat on TV:


Unknown said...

Even the sympathisers are attacked. Sane people can't even condemn the brutality. Sympathising with Shias is a bit tolerable, but you take the name of Ahmedis and you are branded an infidel.

Amina said...

Why don't these crazies go after whoever threw the Noorani Qaida in the trash for a probably illiterate sweeper child to find?

Anonymous said...

NPR report repeatedly passes judgement that Amir Liaquat is responsible for the killings of Ahmedis because of his speech inciting these killings but does not present any excerpt of the actual speech in this report. I have spent some 40 minutes now looking for what he actually said that may have been directly responsible for the killings, but couldn't find anything. Can you please forward a link? It seems that in Pakistan, even if an Ahmedi dies in a road traffic accident due to a tyre burst for example, it would be taken as a state conspiracy for Ahmedi persecution by selling him a faulty tyre, of course the ultimate blame of which should go to Amir Liaquat because he once NODDED to someone's remarks suggesting the capital punishment for someone who claims to be a prophet (not the followers). Tell me how stupid is that?
I have a very negative opinion for Amir Liaquat and fanatic mullahs, but why not stick to facts and reasons rather than passing nonsense jugdments based on an interpretation which is not even remotely relevant?
The people's hate driven response to case of the girl who desecrated some religious text is truly apppalling. It is the death of any trace of sanity left in our society, especially in the wake of ruthless murder of a mentally challenged man in Bahawalpur a few weeks ago. If she is harmed, this will take away the last bit of skin left on our society's face. I hope the authorities handle the situation well.

Anonymous said...

Regarding stats on persecution of Ahmedis in Pakistan, so far 352 ahmedis have been killed in incidents scattered throughout Pakistan's 65 years history, where an Ahmedi population perhaps equal to that of entire New Zealand lives. While a murder of a single human being is unacceptable by any moral, social, or religious standard, it is 'massacre' (as it is claimed) by exactly what standard? Especially in a country where thousands of people are killed annually due to animosity? Secondly, Ahmedis are one of the most affluent, well-off, and well-fed sections of society where more than a quarter of the population lives below poverty line. (I have never seen a starving Ahmedi in Pakistan, have you?)
This is not to say that minorities are facing a difficult time in Pakistan, but then who else isn't? In Pakistan, it is not the persecution of minorities, but in fact a persecution of a weak majority at the hands of a powerful minority which has many faces of the same demon(in form of military, politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, industrialists, mullahs, lawyers, media to name a few).

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