History is a thin excuse for unrelenting majoritarianism in India and its neighbourhood
Recently, a senior advocate in Karachi was charged with blasphemy after another fellow lawyer complained about his having affixed ‘Syed’ to his name in an affidavit. This, supposedly, hurt the lawyer’s religious sentiments. The case is just one instance of the tremendous persecution the Ahmadiyya minority in Pakistan has faced since the eighties when the Benazir Bhutto regime declared it non-Muslim. Ever since, no Ahmadiyya can use Islamic symbols or names, such as Syed. Their persecution began with the notion that Islam has no space for another prophet, as the followers of Mirza Qadiani, founder of the sect, believed he was. That declaration brought the community into the spotlight of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, and their exclusion has continually expanded—from being denied space in public life, education, and employment, now they are even proceeded against for using certain names or titles.
The situation in India is sometimes no different. ( Read the complete article here)
Can the countries from this part of Asia walk in the footsteps of Ireland?
Mera azm itna bulund hae, Parae sholon se dar nahin.
Mujhe dar hae tu atish e gul se hae, Ye kahin chaman ko jala na dein
(my confidence in self is strong, I’m unafraid of foreign flames
I’m scared those sparks may ignite, that in the blossom’s bosom lay )
— Shakeel Badayuni’s couplet which was very dear to Salman Taseer who was assassinated by Islamists
Know Meilana, a 44-year-old ethnic Chinese Buddhist from Indonesia, whose conviction under Indonesia’s controversial blasphemy laws, caused an uproar in the country, merely few months ago. The only ‘offence’ registered against her was that this woman from Sumatra had merely complained about ‘the volume of adzan or call to prayer, from her local mosque’. Her complaint was considered ‘blasphemous’ and even triggered an anti-Chinese riot in which several Buddhist temples were burnt.
(Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/time-dump-blasphemy-laws)
Pakistan was created as a homeland for the sub-continent’s Muslims and yet, even before it had formally taken birth, its founder in a famous speech delivered on August 11, 1947 stated his intention to establish a secular nation where religion would be relegated to the private sphere and the public discourse would be given to pressing development issues. Jinnah’s first cabinet consisted of an Ahmadi (considered by orthodox Muslims as a heretical sect), Sir Zafarullah Khan and Jogendranath Manadal, a Hindu from East Pakistan. Jinnah himself was a Shia while the majority of Pakistan’s Muslims were Sunnis. Roughly one-quarter of Pakistan was non-Muslim at the time of independence and secularism seemed a realistic option. Also, Jinnah’s actions appeared to imply that it would actually be practised. But events proved otherwise.
In neighbouring Pakistan, an Islamic cleric recently accused a young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, of blasphemy, a charge punishable by life imprisonment. He said she had burnt some pages that contained verses from the Quran. The 14 year old girl hails from a poor family and suffers from Down’s Syndrome. An eyewitness to the event showed courage and told a magistrate the truth: it was the Muslim cleric who had put those burnt pages in Rimsha’s bag. The cleric has been arrested and is set, in turn, to be charged with blasphemy.
Why does our media get so worked up when someone in Pakistan is accused of or convicted for blasphemy but is not overly perturbed when someone is charged with or convicted for Sedition in India?
Is this differentiated response occasioned by the belief that a modern state should overlook things like blasphemy but give no quarter to sedition?
Do anti-Blasphemy laws encroach upon Individual freedom while anti-sedition laws protect national interests? Is convicting someone for blasphemy essentially undemocratic but doing the same for sedition not so?
Images aired earlier this month where lawyers and other citizens in Pakistan were seen garlanding and felicitating the murderer of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer might have made those involved look tasteless and crude, but their acts were far from shocking. All his faults aside, Taseer had stood up for a Christian woman who had been accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by a district and sessions (lower) court. He was killed because he had referred to the blasphemy statutes as ‘black laws’ which are abused at will, and had called for reform. As such, Taseer was killed because he had stood up, albeit in a roundabout way, for secularism and basic humanity. Continue reading The dirty ‘S’ word in Pakistan: Urooj Zia→
History is said to be made when humanity has tried to break asunder forces of unreason, irrationality, bigotry, intolerance and reaction which keep reappearing in newer forms in its onward journey. But what can one say when it tries to do the exact opposite, or prefer to go back on the path undertaken.
It warms my heart to see these flowing gowns. I congratulate you on work accomplished! For over a millennium, these gowns have been a symbol of high learning from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Should anyone ask you where they came from, tell them that the early universities of Europe – Oxford, Cambridge, le Sorbonne – borrowed them from the Islamic madressa of the Middle East. If they should seem incredulous, tell them that the gown did not come by itself: because medieval European scholars borrowed from the madressa much of the curriculum, from Greek philosophy to Iranian astronomy to Arab medicine and Indian mathematics, they had little difficulty in accepting this flowing gown, modeled after the dress of the desert nomad, as the symbol of high learning. Should they still express surprise, ask them to take a second look at the gowns of the ayatollahs in Iran and Iraq and elsewhere and they will see the resemblance. Education has no boundaries. Neither does it have an end. As the Waswahili in East Africa, which is where I come from, say: elimu haina muisho. Continue reading Beware Bigotry – Free Speech and the Zapiro Cartoons: Mahmood Mamdani→