Blunt hypocrisy

Ban on FB by LHCThe Lahore High Court, on the 19th ordered the ministry of information technology to block access to all websites spreading religious hatred. It seems like a flashback from not so long ago, when the same institution banned Facebook and Google along with various other websites, claiming it was spreading religious intolerance. The infamous competition of drawing pictures of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is provided as an argument for the ban.

One might understand the judgement since it was directed towards protecting the feelings and emotions of the majority in Pakistan. But the simple facts are these:
The majority of Pakistan is illiterate, out of the minority that is literate, majority don’t have (or can’t afford) computers, out of those who have personal computers, majority don’t even care about
the stupid competition.

Besides, since when did Pakistan became the world leader in religious tolerance? Just a few days earlier, Pakistan was counted among the top 10 countries / regimes, which failed to protect religious freedom. Go further back this month, innocent people were killed and injured in the name of ‘protecting religious emotions’. In a country, where there are many laws, tailored purely to discriminate and suppress minorities that belong to other religions, Justice Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court deemed some websites on the internet (which aren’t made for this purpose) harmful and intolerant.

Not so long ago, in the same province, flyers were distributed calling upon an average Muslim to kill two Christian brothers, then banners put up which suggested it is ‘must’ to kill someone belonging to Ahmadiyya sect, even flyers were distributed citing names of those people in Faisalabad, along with the message ‘liable to be killed’. I wonder how any of these incident went unnoticed by the Lahore High Court or even the Supreme Court of Pakistan. How is banning a few websites, which were used by some mischief creators for their own purposes, an honest decision, when all of the above mentioned ‘crap’ is being done every day under the nose of the court?

Let us for a minute look away from this hypocrisy, Pakistan and India have been the hub of software engineering for over a decade now, the majority of software engineers around the world is desi (from Pakistan and India). Since the arrival of social media portals, innovations have cropped up in this field and many now depend on platforms like Facebook, Google, Orkut etc. for their living. Banning these websites will not provide good results for these people. In-fact, many of these projects have been recalled already.

The sensible thing to do here is to reconsider this matter on a broader scale, not just religiously but also considering the economic effect of these actions. Though in my view, this decision will never be an honest one, considering what has been going on in Pakistan (in terms of religious tolerance) for over five decades.

Pray tell (by Nadeem F. Paracha)

January 23, 2011 (Dawn Opinions)

Oh, my, that label again: ‘Liberal extremist.’ What on earth does it mean? Absolutely nothing. Great wordplay and deliciously idiosyncratic, but that’s about it.

However, since the popular electronic media in Pakistan is usually about a rather nihilistic strain of whatever it considers to be news and analysis, this topsy-turvy label has become the catch-all term of a number of TV anchors, hosts and, ahem, analysts.

So, then, what is a liberal extremist? How many Pakistanis do you know who advocate the abolition of faith, legalisation of cannabis, the creation of nude beaches, support gay marriages or… oh, okay, so this is not what you mean. Then what? If you guys who have suddenly become so fond of this phrase mean by it Pakistanis who emphasise reason over passion (especially in political and theological matters), or who find religion synonymous with humanitarianism, tolerance and compassion, or who like political parties that they support to retain a degree of secularism, or those who cherish the concept of social and religious pluralism and diversity, if these are the dreaded liberal extremists so many Pakistanis have suddenly started moaning about, then I pray for me to become one of the finest liberal extremists in this land of the pure.

So, can one suggest that what passes as being plain old liberal elsewhere becomes liberal extremism in Pakistan? There is another innocent question I would like to ask of all those who have been swinging their fists by suggesting the following brilliant insight: ‘The problem in Pakistan is religious extremism and liberal extremism.’

If so, then pray tell, dear sirs and madams, exactly how can one couple the two phrases in the same sentence? To begin with, one can safely suggest that those you call liberal extremists constitute an embarrassingly minute percentage compared to the glorious blooming and flowering we have seen of what are called religious extremists.

Over and over again we have heard and seen the delightful things faith-based extremists advocate, preach, feel happy about and shower rose petals for, but what have the malicious liberal extremists to gloat and float about? I’ve heard arguments (and that’s about it) from the liberals in the following cases, but no liberal extremist distributed sweetmeat when Dr Aafia was convicted; never saw this extremist chant ‘yea, baby, let’s have more,’ when the news of a drone attack breaks; never seen one claiming that such or such person should be killed just because he or she disagreed with the liberal extremist. Sure he or she may have a sympathetic argument about what their counterparts may consider to be treason, sacrilege, etc., but that’s it.

Kindly stop using this term, liberal extremists, as if it was an indigenous made-in-Pakistan media masterstroke. The term first began being used in the US during the 1970s. It was coined by some ultra-conservative Republican politicians and Christian evangelists against certain mainstream American newspapers, TV channels and filmmaking circles. These guys from that country’s far right in politics and religion thought that the American media and Hollywood were brimming with atheists, agnostics and liberals who were soft on the Soviet Union (mostly because the media was opposing the war in Vietnam).

It was a lunatic fringe whom the then liberal American media suspected of having extreme political and religious views, and this fringe retaliated (in typical knee-jerk fashion), by calling their detractors as liberal extremists. This term was again used during the conservative Reagan years in the 1980s against mainstream media outlets who were opposing his overtly laissez faire economic policies and his arming of the paid mercenaries to topple the revolutionary leftist regime in Nicaragua.

By the end of the Cold War (1990), the liberal extremist tag was hung around social and environmentalist groups that began agitating against large multinational corporations and ‘globalisation.’ The media in this respect was finally let off the hook and the reason was simple. With the arrival of such monsters like FOX-News and SkyNews, things in this respect were turned on their heads when it was the media that began adopting this term for detractors of corporate capitalism and the new millennium’s ‘neo-con’ polices.

In Pakistan it was the military dictatorship of General Musharraf who first used this term. In many of his apologetic speeches he defended his (albeit half-baked) actions against extremist religious organisations by adopting the old 1970s American ultra-conservatives’ mantra of being against both extremes (religious and liberal). However, the irony was that genuine liberalism (that the American conservatives used to call liberal extremism in the US) was almost non-existent in Pakistan.

Right-wing apologists of faith-based extremism now found in abundance in the FOX-News like environment in Pakistan’s electronic media have simply picked up where Musharraf had left: Blame the large-scale presence of both state sponsored and populist, civilian extremism in the country on the handful of vocal liberals by calling them liberal extremists. Of course, intoxicated on the delusion that they have discovered a perfect explanation to defend their sheepish defence of violence-prone extremism, they conveniently forget it is not liberal extremists blowing themselves up in public places or showering rose petals on killers.

by Nadeem F. Paracha

The real blasphemers

Today I came across videos from the new talk show Mr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain is hosting on ARY digital. I saw the whole thing and was truly disgusted the way he and the (self-proclaimed) scholars were trying to ‘IMPOSE’ the blasphemy ordinance. The facts they (the scholars) produced are in total contradiction with historical facts.

I have posted before why is it that blasphemy law contradicts Islam, it was just a way of gaining power by the dictator of that time. The host asks other religions why is it they don’t keep Muhammad as names for a child, Mr. Hussain let me tell you why. If you happen to read newspapers you might well have seen news like these, “The suicidal attack was carried out by a young man named Muhammad Ali”. Every other extremist is called by the sacred and Holy name of Muhammad.

How can you expect someone to be attracted towards a religion which you show as a religion of DOOM. It is because of you sir, that Pakistan is at the height of intolerance EVER recorded in history. It is because of YOU, that Salman Taseer lost his life. For God sakes, stop this blasphemy towards Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

If you are so much knowledgeable and (in your own words) ‘responsible’ and so much showered in the love of Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him) kindly answer my article about blasphemy law. If that is so hard for you answer this simple question I am quoting:

In Pakistan, Hindus are allowed their right of polytheism, Christians are allowed the right of calling Jesus the son of God (in most cases just God), other religions are allowed to worship many other objects which is fine, but in that same country, blasphemy towards Prophet is punishable by death. How is it that blasphemy towards God (the creator of the universe Master of everything living or dead) is acceptable for you, and blasphemy towards his humble servant (the man who brought us towards the one and true God, who’s only mission in life was to show the way to his creation towards the omnipotent power of this universe) is punishable by death? How can you explain that to me? If God says He will do justice with people who disrespect the Prophet (peace be upon him) WHO ON EARTH MADE YOU THE JUDGE FOR THIS ACTIVITY?

Killed in the name of religion [Salman Taseer]

The governor of Punjab Mr. Salman Taseer was assassinated on January 4th by a Policeman. The alleged killer confessed his actions, stating that it was ‘revenge’ for condemning the blasphemy law. Till now, none of the religious parties have condemned this action and the assassin is being titled as a hero in the extremists ranks.

There is no way a sane person can support this action. Incidents like these have already maimed the face of Islam. A while ago, I discussed the blasphemy law on this blog, and clearly proved that the law has nothing to do with Islam. Even the (self-proclaimed) educated debated with me on this. I would like to ask them, why is it that none of your ‘religious’ leaders step forward and condemn these actions? Do they support this? How is this a service to Islam?

Pakistan has been a hot bed of religious hatred, not only towards other religion, but also towards the minority sections of Islam. The menace of Mullah is widespread in the country. The lack of education and height of ignorance has supported the Mullah since the beginning and has caused the downfall of Pakistan.

I just hope this incident opens the eyes of the educated sections of Pakistan, so that they may stand up against this Mullahism which has disgraced Pakistan since the beginning.

Islam: Religion of Peace (Part 10: Militant elements)

PreviousPart 9 Read from the beginning

The growing talk of militancy and the use of force which we hear, needs to be carefully analyzed before we can understand the importance of this bizarre phenomenon. The narrow, non-tolerant attitude is certainly becoming more popular with the Muslim ‘clergy’ in almost all Muslim countries. The responsibility for this mainly lies on the shoulders of Saudi Arabia, which is attempting to capture the imagination of the whole Muslim world and seems resolved to spread its political influence under a religious guise. As it enjoys the unique advantage of being the custodian of the two holiest cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina, it is certainly in a position to exploit this situation to its best advantage.

The religious philosophy of the Saudis emanates from Wahabism, which draws its inspiration from the non-tolerant world of medieval Islam rather than from the more understanding and benign Islam of the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). The spread of Saudi influence is aided by Saudi petro-dollars and the colossal size of Saudi bank balances in major banks throughout the world. It is to the credit of Saudi Arabia that part of the interest accruing from these colossal investments is being used to form channels of aid from Saudi Arabian coffers to the poorer Muslim nations with sizable Muslim populations. More often than not, this aid is provided not to boost their ailing economies, but to build mosques, training schools and institutes producing scholars of a Saudi brand.

Hence, wherever you follow the flow of Saudi aid, you will also observe a rapid increase in the narrow, non-tolerant attitudes of Muslim ‘clergy’. No doubt, when the Christian world hears these voices roundly condemning all non-Islamic values and preaching jihad (that is, holy war), against non-Islamic governments, they are led to believe that the talk of this holy war will readily be translated into actual belligerency. What is happening is in fact completely different.

The Muslim ‘clergy’ talks highly about holy wars and the utter destruction of non-Islamic forces. What they actually mean by non-Islamic forces is not Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or atheist forces. According to their view, all Muslim sects other than their own are either no Muslim in their character or hold to doctrines that render them liable to earn the wrath of Allah and His true servants. The real enemies of Islam, as they discern them, are not non-Muslims but some sects of Islam within the world of Islam. The awakening militant tendencies are much more directed by Muslims of one sect against Muslims of another sect than against non-Muslims. This is why so much stress is laid by them on capital Punishment for Apostasy. That is their weapon against Muslims who differ on some doctrinal issues from the majority sect of a country. These sects are, in fact, dealt the death-blow in two steps—first, their doctrines are declared to be non-Islamic, which earns them the title of apostates; and second, the doctrine of death being the penalty for apostasy, they are considered liable to be executed.

A neutral observer will agree that this growing militant tendency is creating disorder among the Muslims themselves and that it is responsible for generating extreme hatred in the hearts of adherents of one sect against the adherents of another. No one who has even a remote understanding of modern warfare can imagine a real threat from so-called ‘Islamic’ militancy. Of course, there is danger in these growing tendencies and one is bound to be perturbed by them. The danger from ‘Islamic’ militancy is a threat to the world of Islam itself; it is an inward-looking threat which is destroying the peace of Muslims everywhere. All the intolerance, narrow-mindedness and bigotry which we observe in the Muslim world today is playing havoc with the peace of the Muslim world.

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