Exploiting the Prophet

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

“PISS CHRIST,” a famous photograph partly financed by taxpayers, depicted a crucifix immersed in what the artist said was his own urine. But conservative Christians did not riot on the Washington Mall.

“The Book of Mormon,” a huge hit on Broadway, mocks the church’s beliefs as hocus-pocus. But Mormons haven’t burned down any theaters.

So why do parts of the Islamic world erupt in violence over insults to the Prophet Muhammad?

Let me try to address that indelicate question, and a related one: Should we curb the freedom to insult religions that are twitchy?

First, a few caveats. For starters, television images can magnify (and empower) crazies. In Libya, the few jihadis who killed Ambassador Chris Stevens were vastly outnumbered by the throngs of Libyan mourners who apologized afterward.

Remember also that it’s not just Muslims who periodically go berserk, but everybody — particularly in societies with large numbers of poorly educated young men. Upheavals are often more about demography than about religion: the best predictor of civil conflict is the share of a population that is aged 15 to 24. In the 19th century, when the United States brimmed with poorly educated young men, Protestants rioted against Catholics.

For much of the postwar period, it was the secular nationalists in the Middle East who were seen as the extremists, while Islam was seen as a calming influence. That’s why Israel helped nurture Hamas in Gaza.

That said, for a self-described “religion of peace,” Islam does claim a lot of lives.

In conservative Muslim countries, sensitivities sometimes seem ludicrous. I once covered a Pakistani college teacher who was imprisoned and threatened with execution for speculating that the Prophet Muhammad’s parents weren’t Muslims. (They couldn’t have been, since Islam began with him.)

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Must watch: After violence-mongers had their day of senseless rage, Pakistani youth cleaned the mess with the message of tolerance

“Here’s the other side of Newsweek’s Muslim Rage photo. Something the mainstream media wouldn’t be too keen to show you in highlighted characters and red strips. Today, tens of hundreds of people showed up from 8 year olds to 60+ senior citizens in different cities of Pakistan to clean up the mess created by the few individuals who somehow always end up defining Pakistan. Here’s to all of today’s participants, you’re the reason why we have a good future. Pakistan is proud of you.

Courtesy: Vimeo

Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

In spite of the gradual infiltration of ubiquitous religious symbolism and mentality in the social spheres of everyday life, Pakistan has managed to remain afloat as a dynamically pluralistic society comprising various ethnicities, religions and Islamic sects.

However, starting in the late 1970s, an anti-pluralistic process was initiated by the Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship that soon spiralled beyond mere posturing and sloganeering.

With the ‘Afghan jihad’ raging against the former Soviet Union, Zia, his intelligence agencies, and parties like Jamat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam started embracing a narrow and highly political version of Islam.

This was done to radicalise large sections of the Pakistani Muslims who had historically been a part of more apolitical strains of the faith — the kind that over the centuries had evolved within the largely pluralistic milieu of the subcontinent.

Continue reading Be critical – By: Nadeem F. Paracha

The flag of surrender

By: Cyril Almeida

THE green flag of Islam was vigorously waved Friday, the government wants us to believe. But to anyone who knows anything about this place, it was really a white flag of surrender in the PPP’s hands.

That the PPP has pandered to the religious right in the hope that giving them space will make them leave everyone else alone is true from the time of ZAB. The problem is, 35 years on, the camel’s nose and much of the rest of him is already inside the tent.

Cowardice and a myopic survival instinct dictated the PPP’s decision to embrace the mobs. The thinking was fairly rudimentary, as it often is here: get on the right side of the outrage; co-opt the raging few by giving their protests an official imprimatur; after Friday, treat the matter as adequately protested; and with the government’s flanks protected thus, push back if the protesters refuse to get off the streets.

As far as the government is concerned, the Friday ruse worked.

The protests weren’t enormous, they weren’t as violent as things can get in Pakistan and the government is now insulated from accusations that it is soft on the godless US. In a situation loaded with downside risks, the government thinks it has prevented the grenade in its lap from going off.

By any other measure, it was a very stupid thing to do.

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New World Order – New Greater Pushtunistan & Balochistan

The New World

By FRANK JACOBS and PARAG KHANNA

IT has been just over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the last great additions to the world’s list of independent nations. As Russia’s satellite republics staggered onto the global stage, one could be forgiven for thinking that this was it: the end of history, the final major release of static energy in a system now moving very close to equilibrium. A few have joined the club since — Eritrea, East Timor, the former Yugoslavian states, among others — but by the beginning of the 21st century, the world map seemed pretty much complete.

Now, though, we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs. Here is a map of what could possibly be the world’s newest international borders.

Pashtunistan and Baluchistan Take a Stand

To Iran’s east, the American withdrawal leaves the “Af-Pak” region in a state of disarray reminiscent of the early 1990s. With no cohesive figure in sight to lead Afghanistan after President Hamid Karzai, and with Pakistan mired in dysfunctional sectarianism and state weakness, a greater Pashtunistan could coagulate across the Durand Line, which divides the two countries. Meanwhile the gas-rich but politically alienated Baluchis could renew their independence drive, which peaked in the 1970s.

Courtesy: The New York Times (Sunday Review)

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/23/opinion/sunday/the-new-world.html?smid=fb-share