Wednesday, November 14, 2012

[Update]: Umair Asim's father granted interim bail

by Salman Hameed

Finally some good news in the Lahore blasphemy mess. Umair Asim's father was granted interim bail from Lahore High Court and has now been released. It is still a shame that this is still an "interim" bail and that the blasphemy charges have not yet been dropped. I cannot imagine the ordeal that Umair and his whole family have been going through - and how their lives have changed just in a fortnight.

Just a reminder about Umair. Here is what Umair was doing 48 hours before his schools was burnt down. Here is a spectacular picture of solar prominence taken from his telescope on top of his house in Lahore:

These storms on the Sun are natural and are located 93 million miles away. Unfortunately, the storms of ignorance and intolerance that impacted his family were man-made and much closer to home.

I just received an e-mail from Isa Daudpota that included this quote from Carl Sagan as plea for tolerance:

“We have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed. Think of the negative connotations of words like alien or outlandish. And yet the monuments and cultures of each of our civilizations merely represent different ways of being human. An extraterrestrial visitor, looking at the differences among human beings and their societies, would find those differences trivial compared to the similarities. The Cosmos may be densely populated with intelligent beings. But the Darwinian lesson is clear: There will be no humans elsewhere. Only here. Only on this small planet. We are a rare as well as an endangered species. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
                                                                              — “Who Speaks for Earth?,” Cosmos
Unfortunately, this message is not going to get through to those who have raised this ruckus and burnt down the school. Clearly, nor do they value the education that may lead to an appreciation of such a quote. But we all have to speak up against intolerance as much as we can.

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