Posts Tagged ‘Blasphemy’
Last month an editor from The Express Tribune asked me if I wanted to write a blog on United Airlines barring two girls wearing leggings from boarding. I responded:
This article is interesting, and it seems just absurd that an airline would ban anyone for wearing leggings, however I’m not sure if I’m the right person for it, I’m much more interested in writing about a different topic. The #HangAyazNizami hashtag is exploding ever since he was arrested. Blasphemy is one of the more important issues in Pakistan, and the extremists are pulling down the entire country with their ideology. I also realize how sensitive the issue is, and would be respectful both of Islam and its followers in the context of speaking against judicial executions. This goes back to the dialectic between fundamentalists and Salmeen Taseer for his support of Asia Bibi. I would examine compulsion in religion and how this contradicts punishment for blasphemy. Let me know if you’re interested.
But The Express Tribune responded thus:
“Currently, we are trying to steer clear from blogs on blasphemy.”
We know the danger, as the BBC reports, “At least 65 people have been murdered in Pakistan after being accused of blasphemy since 1990.” This goes back to Rushdie and Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, who wrote on topic:
Then Pakistan then experienced another tragedy. A young student, Mashal Khan, was murdered on campus.
PEW reports that 64% of those in Pakistan support capital punishment for those who blaspheme, and section 295C of the Penal Code also mandates the penalty. So it’s not mere cowardice to avoid polemics if you are on the ground in Pakistan.
We fight those who support blasphemy laws, for they are at the forefront of the dialectic between benevolent humanity and the evils of religious chauvinism. We also fight those who obfuscate in their condemnation, out of cowardice, ignorance, or complicity. Many in Pakistan and the West are guilty (a tangent that runs too deep for a short blog).
Therefore, those who have freedom of speech, non-Muslims and Muslims alike, must challenge the evil of blasphemy laws and recognize many “blasphemies” are actually not evil at all, but calls for tolerance.
To double down on the above, just like I have no desire to burn the American flag, use racial slurs, or mock the religious, I also claim my right to criticize the United States, culture, and religion. Those who criticize are often falsely accused of being unpatriotic, racist, and blasphemous when in fact they are pushing ideas that will help humanity progress. That’s why not enough can be written in support of free speech and against blasphemy, whether secular or religious.
Pakistan, we realize the danger you face and we support you, but please write about blasphemy. Be convincing, be strong, be courageous, spread the risk. We who have speech support you.
My two latest at The Express Tribune Blogs, my suggested title “Free Speech: Ban All or None” was switched for the anodyne “May Peace Win” (March 3, 2015): “Most Muslims can ignore and shrug off blasphemy. Murder is far more offensive. In the future, non-Muslims, including the growing number of former Muslims, will criticize Islam. Muslims can either respond with calls for violence or peace.”
Next, Mayor Bill Blasio made Eid a holiday for NYC public schools (March 11, 2015): “ …whether an entire country should satisfy less than two per cent of the population is a decision that should be decided democratically.”
State Sanctioned Murder: The Pakistani courts, after a lengthy trial, verdict, sentencing, and appeals regarding Aasia (Asia) Bibi’s alleged blasphemy, ruled in support of “Judicial Murder.” The accused will not be the only one to receive judgment. My take at the Express Tribune:
“Aasia Bibi, mother of five, sits in prison hoping one last appeal will save her from death row. If she is executed, as with the lynching of Shahzad and Shama Masih and the assassination of Salman Taseer, Islam will be judged…” Will Islam be judged if Aasia Bibi is executed?
Further Thoughts: The injustice with blasphemy cases are two fold. First, they often are flimsy, the guilt of the accused is dubious, and the accusers often are settling scores. Second, even if the accused is guilty, the accused should not face capital punishment, not to mention that any penalty can seem absurd from the outside. More later.
Related: Pakistan’s blasphemy laws legitimize intolerance – The Economist
Pakistani Woman Facing Death – The Guardian
Blasphemy Law Highlights Pakistan’s Hypocrisy – The Daily Beast