Tag Archives: Blasphemy

Why are we so intolerant? Emotional and heartfelt column on Rimsha. – By Mehr Tarar

VIEW : To do or not to — Mehr Tarar

How will we learn to differentiate between an outright insult to our religion and an inadvertent slip where the doer does not even know what the action implies?

I write because I feel. This is the only medium through which I can express with some coherence what I want to say. Words have a tremendous power, bigger than many of us realise, but words only affect when they carry an expression of what you truly believe, what you feel a level deeper than the superfluous, and when your belief and feeling strengthen into the knowledge that it all must be conveyed; if not to all, to some. If not to some, maybe to even one person, whom you may touch, one way or the other, subliminally, or if you are lucky, startle like an alarm going off at 4:00 am when you are finally asleep, after hours of insomnia. Words, for me, would never be a mere structuring of alphabets, painstakingly coerced together, to compile an essay that you force yourself to write, to meet a deadline, to score an A, to fill your weekly slot in a newspaper. I write because I love to write. I write because I am a firm believer of the potency of the right text hitting the right chord at the right time. I write because when there is too much chaos around me, the orderliness of keys placed side by side on my keyboard allows me the calm to figure out how I can give voice to my outrage. I write when there are moments to celebrate, goodness to value, and achievements to celebrate. As I write today, I wish there were noble things to write about instead of the stark randomness of madness that seems to permeate our collective consciousness as a nation. I wish.

Continue reading Why are we so intolerant? Emotional and heartfelt column on Rimsha. – By Mehr Tarar

Lawyers Seek Release of Pakistani Girl Charged With Blasphemy

By DECLAN WALSH

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The fate of a Pakistani Christian girl at the center of a contentious blasphemy case hung in the balance on Tuesday, as lawyers applied for her release from jail and an influential Muslim cleric offered his support.

The Pakistani authorities have held the girl, Rimsha Masih, in a high-security jail since Aug. 16, when hundreds of Muslim protesters, angered over claims that she had burned pages from an Islamic holy book, surrounded a police station here in Islamabad to demand that she face prosecution.

Continue reading Lawyers Seek Release of Pakistani Girl Charged With Blasphemy

MPA wants Christian girl released, blasphemy law abolished

KARACHI, Aug 24: MPA Saleem Khursheed Khokhar, who represents the Christian community in the Sindh Assembly, has called for the immediate release of a Christian girl arrested recently near Islamabad. She was accused of desecrating the Quran and charged under the blasphemy law.

Speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Friday, Mr Khokhar appealed to the government to abolish the blasphemy law, claiming that it was being misused to settle personal scores and victimise the minorities.

Continue reading MPA wants Christian girl released, blasphemy law abolished

Free Rimsha Masih

The latest victim of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, is an 11 year old girl suffering from Downs Syndrome. Rimshah Masih screamed pitifully as she was brutally snatched from her mother by an angry mob intent on killing her. Burnt religious texts had been mischievously planted in a bag she was carrying. We call on the Pakistani Government to take action to stop the ongoing discrimination, persecution and hatred towards minorities living there. We call on the Britisha Government the EU and the Un to intervene on behalf of this poor child and to bring about her freedom.

To bring an end to hatred towards minority faiths in conservative Pakistan and to defend otherwise helpless victims like Rimsha please sign the petition below:

This petition will be sent to the Pakistan High Commission and 10 Downing Street.

Here our song for Rimsha here:

Read more » Petition Buzz

» To Sign a Petition to Free Rimsha Masih

Christian group to hold conference on Pakistan blasphemy law

GENEVA: An influential Christian Church organisation will hold an international conference in Geneva next month on Pakistan’s blasphemy law, after an 11-year-old Pakistani Christian girl was detained on accusations of defaming Islam.

Religious and secular groups worldwide have protested over the arrest last week of Rifta Masih, accused by Muslim neighbours of burning verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) said the conference was intended to give a global platform to religious minorities in Pakistan “who are victimised in the name of its controversial blasphemy law” in cases which had brought death penalties and “mob-instigated violence.”

It will be addressed by representatives of the minorities: Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, dissenting Islamic sects – including Ahmadis and Shias, and by civil society groups defending them. The WCC said officials from the United Nations, where special human rights investigators on religious freedom have often criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy law, would also attend.

Continue reading Christian group to hold conference on Pakistan blasphemy law

Brutal murder of 12 years old orphan Christian boy Samuel Yaqoob by cutting his neck and burning him in Faisalabad

As the furore over the arrest of a minor Christian girl over blasphemy charge is yet to die down, the body of an 11-year-old boy from the minority community, bearing torture marks, was found in Faisalabad city of Pakistan’s Punjab province Wednesday, police said.

Samuel Yaqoob, a resident of the Christian Colony of Faisalabad, 100 km from Lahore, was brutally tortured before being killed. He had been missing since the evening of August 20, when he had stepped out of his home to go to the market. Yaqoob’s burnt body was found near a drain of the Christian Colony Wednesday. His lips, nose and belly were cut off and he could hardly be recognised as his body was badly burnt, relatives said.

Continue reading Brutal murder of 12 years old orphan Christian boy Samuel Yaqoob by cutting his neck and burning him in Faisalabad

Muslims Condemn Blasphemy Charges Against Christian Girl in Pakistan

By: Mike Ghouse, Writer, Speaker,Pluralist, Activist

Muslims together condemn the arrest and imprisonment of a Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

We urge Muslims in Pakistan and around the world to focus on this particular topic and seek to abolish the blasphemy laws.

There is a way out to find lasting solutions to rid of the abusive practices by a few in the clergy group. These men, literate or illiterate, at least claim to follow Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life examples; however, they don’t, and it is our immediate responsibility to pass on Prophet Muhammad’s practices to some of these men who pass judgments without any reference to the life of the Prophet. Screaming at them or pushing them to the corner is neither Jesus’ way nor Muhammad’s way.

Continue reading Muslims Condemn Blasphemy Charges Against Christian Girl in Pakistan

Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

Pakistani activists alarmed by threats to minorities

The US has said that it is deeply disturbed by the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges. It also expressed satisfaction, however, about President Asif Ali Zardari’s action to probe the case.

On Monday, when Pakistani Muslims were busy celebrating the Islamic Eid festival, hundreds of Christian families living in the low-income Mehrabad neighborhood of the Pakistani capital Islamabad were forced to leave the homes where they had been living for more than two decades.

The Christians feared that they would be attacked by the majority Muslim community after Rimsha, a Christian girl aged between 10 and 13, allegedly burnt pages with the verses from the Koran inscribed on them. The incident took place last Thursday and Rimsha was later taken into custody by the Pakistani police.

The angry Muslims of the neighborhood, which is only a 20-minute drive from Western embassies in Islamabad, immediately demanded that she be punished for her “sin.”

According to some media reports, the girl was burning papers that she collected from a rubbish pile for cooking when some Muslims entered her house and accused her of burning the Islamic text. Pakistani officials have claimed the girl suffers from Down’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder causing major learning disabilities.

On Monday, the US State Department took serious note of the girl’s arrest. “This case is obviously deeply disturbing,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters, adding that the US government was encouraged by President Zardari’s move to order the interior ministry to submit a report on the case.

“We think that the president’s statement is very welcome, and we urge the government of Pakistan to protect not just its religious minority citizens but also women and girls,” Nuland said.

Religious discrimination is widespread

Religious discrimination in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is not a new occurrence but it has increased considerably in recent years. Pakistan’s liberal sections are alarmed by the growing influence of right-wing Islamists in their country.

Rights activists complain that the Islamists enjoy state patronage, while on the other hand liberal and progressive voices have to face the wrath of the country’s security agencies.

Rights organizations also point out to the legal discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, which, in their opinion, is one the major causes of maltreatment of Pakistani minority groups.

President Zardari’s PPP (Pakistan People’s Party) government has recently come under sharp criticism from the country’s rights organizations and the West for refusing to reform the anti-blasphemy laws despite the assassinations of Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian cabinet minister, and Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab province.

Controversial anti-blasphemy laws

The two politicians were brutally murdered by Islamists in 2011 because they had dared to speak out against the controversial laws, which were introduced by the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Many rights activists say they have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes.

Farooq Sulehria, a London-based activist and journalist, told DW that they should be immediately repealed. “But I doubt that in the absence of a working-class struggle in Pakistan, any government will be forced to do it.”

Mohsin Sayeed, a journalist in Karachi, said the laws were “un-Islamic.”

“The anti-blasphemy laws should be abolished because they have nothing to do with Islam. We have been demanding their repeal for a long time. This demand has met with a fierce reaction from religious extremists, who are no more a marginalized group in Pakistan,” Sayeed told DW.

He also criticized the Pakistani judiciary for its alleged sympathetic behavior toward the right-wing. “Asia Bibi is still languishing in jail, while Mumtaz Qadri (Taseer’s assassin), is still alive,” he said.

‘Intolerance is becoming mainstream’

There have also been reports of hundreds of members of the Hindu community trading Pakistan for India, citing mistreatment, discrimination and persecution in their homeland as reasons.

Continue reading Venom spread into the whole of society: the arrest of a young Pakistani Christian girl on blasphemy charges

Washington Post: Pakistani Christians flee in fear after Christian girl with Downs Syndrome is jailed of blasphemy

Pakistani Christians, fearing backlash, flee community after girl is accused of blasphemy

By: Richard Leiby

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Everyone in the teeming, tense community of Muslims and Christians just outside Islamabad seems to have a different story about the young girl and the Koran.

The 12-year-old Christian deliberately burned the Muslim holy book, some say. No, she innocently put pages from a non-sacred teaching text into the trash, say others, and nothing was burned. Still another version holds that an older Muslim boy planted pages of the Koran for the cleaning girl to find and then leveled the accusation of desecration because she had spurned him.

Amid the conflicting claims, this much is certain: As many as 600 Christians have fled their colony bordering the capital, fearing for their lives, officials said, after a mob last week called for the child to be burned to death as a blasphemer.

The girl, who authorities have described as mentally challenged, sits in jail in Rawalpindi, charged by police with blasphemy, while her family has been put in federal protective custody. The evidence against her is muddled at best, but police said they arrested her in part to assuage the mob and also because they knew she would be safer in jail.

“The one who burned the Koran should be burned,” said Shaukhat Ali, an assistant at the local mosque, expressing a sentiment shared by many Muslims in the community.

Continue reading Washington Post: Pakistani Christians flee in fear after Christian girl with Downs Syndrome is jailed of blasphemy

The Talibanisation of Society in Pakistan

Abandoned by their government, the poor of Pakistan have turned to the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups for support and solace. At the same time, a growing pressure for emancipation presses against fundamentalism. Which force will triumph? A report based on travel in rural Sindh.

By: Jan Breman (J.C.Breman@uva.nl) is professor emeritus at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In her prison cell, Asia Bibi is waiting since 2010 for execution of the verdict brought against her. Blasphemy is the crime she has been accused of and for that gravest of sins the penalty is to be hanged. Why and how was she found guilty?

Asia Bibi is an agricultural labourer in Punjab, illiterate, mother of small children and Christian. When at work in the field as part of a female gang, she went to fetch water to drink and passed around the jug to her fellow workers. A few of them refused, saying that having touched her mouth, the spout had become unclean. Asia belongs to a low caste of Hindu origin that has been converted to Christianity. This attempt to escape from the stigma of untouchability has not ended the discrimination to which she is subjected.

Continue reading The Talibanisation of Society in Pakistan

New blasphemy low – downs syndrome girl arrested!

We have received reports of a new and appalling low in the ongoing abuse of blasphemy laws. Allegedly, a Quran was found with some of its pages burned by Muslims in a Christian area of Islamabad – in previous cases the burning has nearly always shown to have been done by Muslims, or by mentally unstable people – and worse, they have had an 11 year old Christian girl with downs syndrome called Rimsha Masih arrested and charged with the crime.

Continue reading New blasphemy low – downs syndrome girl arrested!

Paknationalist Sufis

By: Omar

One regularly hears about the “moderate” sufis who will save islam or Pakistan (and who therefore deserve a quick injection of money…see how much Tahir ul Qadri is making via this route). But Sufi-ism is not a well defined ideology, anyone can be a sufi and almost everyone IS a sufi of some sort in Pakistan. Some innocents see positive implications of such confusion in the wider Islamicate world, thinking that this will weaken the Wahabi-Salafi vision of one folk, one leader, one law that seems so scary these days, though I dont see empirical proof of such assertions.  Anyway, that was not the topic I had in mind. I just wanted to post this link to “spiritual Pakistan”..a fairly typical and representative “Sufi Paknationalist” website. They are promoting “Ghazwa e Hind” (the weak hadith that supposedly promises a huge war in India, and victory and eternal reward for those Muslims who fight to conquer India) and they are much more ardent about it than the “evidence-based” Deobandis, who do have some standards and hesitate to make-up stuff on demand like the Sufis (“the sufis” meaning some sufis…keep in mind, there is no such things as “standards” when it comes to Sufis….an indophile like me is a sufi, a jihadi nutcase like Zaid Hamid is a sufi, Orya Maqbool Jan is a sufi. Its a free for all…its not better or worse, its whatever you want).

And if anything, “the sufis” promote blasphemy prosecutions more than salafists. Of course, many famous sufis also died for supposedly blaspheming something. Which is my point. Sufi can mean anything. Not just the hippie Islam that twinkles in so many Western eyes. ….

Read more » Brown Pundits

Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive

Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive for burning Holy Quran

By Kashif Zafar

BAHAWALPUR: An angry mob lynched a man accused of burning the Holy Quran in the Chanighot area of Bahawalpur, burning him to death after pouring petrol on him on Wednesday.

The police reached the spot to control the matter but the mob refused to hand over the accused and continued to torture him.

Continue reading Blasphemy: Mob burns man alive

Pakistan’s National College of Art’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pak college’s editorial board dissolved over blasphemy row

Pakistan’s first arts college’s editorial board has been dissolved and two other departments have been closed, weeks after the institution’s annual journal was accused of publishing material that supported homosexuality and ridiculed Islamic values.

The architecture and research and publication departments of the National College of Arts in Lahore have been closed while the director for research and publication, Sarosh Irfani, has been suspended.

Following complaints about the inclusion of some paintings and a feature in the annual journal Sohbat, the college’s editorial board too has been dissolved.

The principal of the NCA, Sajjad Kausar, and some other staff are facing charges of blasphemy, official sources told PTI.

With extremist and hardline religious parties, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, calling for stringent action against those responsible for publishing “blasphemous materials” in the journal, the college’s administration, including the Principal, are feeling insecure, the sources said.

“I have dissolved the editorial board, closed down the research and publication and architecture wings and suspended the director for research and publication,” Kausar told reporters.

He said a ban had been imposed on the publication of Sohbat for an indefinite period. ….

Read more » http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/Pakistan/Pak-college-s-editorial-board-dissolved-over-blasphemy-row/Article1-881693.aspx

Pakistani Christians, Hindus, Sindhis and Shias Protest Against the Chief Justice of Pakistan in London

London: Lunch-time on the 28th of May 2012 the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry received a vocal reception at the hands of the protesters gathered outside the award giving ceremony of the International Council of Jurists (ICJ). Ironically Justice Chaudhry is himself the vice president of ICJ.

Zee News reported, “Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry ha[s] been awarded the prestigious International Jurists Award 2012. Justice Chaudhry received the award from Lord Phillips, President of the Supreme Court of the UK, for his “unique and tremendous contribution in the field of administration of justice and for the tireless and fearless endeavours towards administration of justice in Pakistan against all odds.”

Shortly before Justice Chaudhry received the award, two persons barged into the auditorium at the Hotel Court House raising slogans against killings of Shias in Pakistan.”

While outside a large demonstration by Sindhi, Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Human Rights organizations was taking place against forced conversions of Hindu and Christian girls in Pakistan. The protesters were chanting loud slogans against Justice Chaudhry ’s role in handing over the Hindu girls to their Muslim ‘husbands’ whereas their families allege that all three girls were abducted on the orders of the influential custodian of a Muslim shrine Mian Abdul Haq-Member National Assembly for the ruling PPP.

Christian groups pointed out the lack of justice in Pakistani courts for scores of victims languishing in jails under trumped-up charges under Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws which carry the punishment of death penalty. The protesters were allowed to speak to the organizers of the event. ….

Read more » Global Christian Voice

http://globalchristianvoice.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/pakistani-christians-hindus-sindhis-and-shias-protest-against-the-chief-justice-of-pakistan-in-london/

“Censor” Republic of Pakistan.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.” “What makes this kind of censorship so insidious is that they always use national security, pornography or blasphemy as an explanation for blocking other kinds of speech,” Ms. Saleem said, adding that her site had been blocked for several months in 2010 when it made reference to a ban on Facebook. ….

Read more » ChagataiKhan

Pakistan is in denial over spreading sectarian violence

After decades of turning a blind eye, the government seems helpless in the face of attacks on Shias and other minorities

By: Mustafa Qadri

While banned political groups preach hatred towards religious minorities in Pakistan’s major cities, a conflict along sectarian lines is spreading across the country, even to areas not previously associated with violence. Having spent decades turning a blind eye to the calculated violence of groups with a clear agenda based on hatred and intolerance, Pakistan’s government appears helpless in the face of continuous attacks on Shia Muslims and other minorities.

Sectarian attacks are not new in Pakistan, but there has been an upsurge, especially in Balochistan since at least 2010, in the Khurram and Orakzai tribal agencies bordering Afghanistan, the port city of Karachi and across the Punjab. Now the frosty, picturesque mountain ranges of Gilgit-Baltistan, on the northern border with China, are seeing an increasingly violent sectarian conflict pitting Muslim Sunnis against Shias.

Continue reading Pakistan is in denial over spreading sectarian violence

ATTACK ON SINDH PROGRESSIVE COMMITTEE (SPC) DEMO AGAINST RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM

Hyderabad: The religious extremists show up to throw stones and beat peaceful protestors including children and women and the police arrests the peaceful progressive demonstrators of civil society demanding basic rights for women and Hindus as citizens of Pakistan. They are charging the civil society activists with blasphemy to terrorize them! Sindh is indeed suffering a brutal occupation that turns more tragic and farcical by the day. The following report of the rally to protests forced conversion and kidnapping of Hindu girls by an alliance of Sindhi civil society.

According to the reports, Sunni Tehreek’s extremists came with pick up’s loaded with Stones and attacked the peaceful Rally. Some of the injured were Girls & children. Police arrested civil society leaders Taj Marri, along with his Daughter Paras, renowned leftist intellectual, thinker, writer and activists Bakhshal Thalou and many other activists of civil society . Religious fundamentalists tried to put Hyderabad Press club on fire, and latter GOR Colony police Station was attacked by them. Several hundreds Students of Sindh University came to defend the civil society rally against the religious fundamentalism. Women Action Forum Leaders Arfana Mallah and Amar Sindhu who were in rally tried to dissuade the fanatics, but they insisted on registering charges of TOHEEN-E-RISALAT [blasphemy, a capital offense in Pakistan] against arrested leaders of Sindhi civil society.

According to some informed journalists a secret service agency is working on to create a rift between the People of Sindh and wants to start Hindu- Muslim riots and force the Sindhi Hindu’s to leave Sindh and to put Sindhis in minority in their own motherland. After the pressure of civil society, Women Action Forum’s leader Arfana Mallah and Taj Marri were freed from the lockup of GOR Colony Police Station, Hyderabad, Pakistan.

Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups 17 April 2012 + facebook

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Use of Blasphemy Law for Murder in Pakistan

Who killed Murtaza Malik?

By Khaled Ahmed, Urdu Press Review

Murtaza Malik’s ability as an orator never earned him the respect he deserved. He is still a popular speaker on Islamic TV channels. His money was made in Saudi Arabia and later by selling Islamic books to the army. Why didn’t he earn respect and why was he killed quite needlessly?

Continue reading Use of Blasphemy Law for Murder in Pakistan

PAKISTAN: A newspaper terminates its editor after threats from fundamentalists

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-056-2012 : The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an editor of a daily newspaper was terminated from his job after threats of the filing of a blasphemy case against him. Threats of blasphemy cases were also made against the publisher, editor and editor of the editorial page by Muslim fundamentalists. After his sudden termination and threats of further action by the fundamentalist organizations the editor was left with no one to turn to and suffered a heart attack. For one month now he has been bedridden and cannot leave the safety of this house because of the threats.

Continue reading PAKISTAN: A newspaper terminates its editor after threats from fundamentalists

Fighting the Great Firewall of Pakistan

How an unlikely free-speech campaign defeated the censors.

It takes a strong stomach and a thick skin to be a female activist fighting online censorship in Pakistan. Sana Saleem has both.

The 24-year-old founder of a Karachi-based free expression group Bolo Bhi has been accused of supporting “blasphemy.” On Twitter, a chilling message made the rounds last month: “this @sanasaleem is a prostitute who feature in porn movies #throwacidonsana.” Her photo was posted in pornography forums.

None of this has fazed Sana, who in conjunction with several other young Pakistani blogger-activists had launched a successful campaign that has shamed the government into halting plans for a national Internet censorship system. A long-time contributor to the international bloggers network Global Voices Online, in March Saleem joined forces with other groups including the Pakistan-based social justice group Bytes For All and other activists like the dentist-blogger Awab Alvi, a.k.a. “Teeth Maestro,” who has been campaigning against censorship since 2006. Their success is a victory for free speech, and not only in Pakistan. It holds lessons for activists around the world who are fighting uphill battles against censorship schemes initiated by governments that claim to be acting in the public interest, and who have support from influential political constituencies. ….

Read more » Foreign Policy (FP)

SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case

March 30, 2012 – SAPAC, Washington, DC: On 24th February, 2012 , a young Hindu girl named Rinkel Kumari was abducted from her home in a small village in Sindh, Pakistan. It was a full twelve hours before her family discovered where she was. Rinkel, aged 19, had been forced to change her religion to Islam and to marry a young man named Naveed Shah. Her parents immediately filled a first information report and brought her case before a civil judge. The court house was surrounded by thugs and supporters of the Pakistani Peoples’ Party Member of the National Assembly (PPP MNA) who was assisting Naveed. Under tremendous pressure, and obvious duress, Rinkel testified that she had married and converted to Islam of her own will. The judge released her into Naveed’s custody. Unsatisfied with the verdict, the Hindu community in Sindh rallied together to demand justice for Rinkel and other Hindu girls who had faced the same fate.

Continue reading SAPAC efforts for Rinkal Case

Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

By Khaled Ahmed

Origin of our national mindset

The Army is composed of Punjabis up to 80 percent. Even the Navy, which should normally absorb coastal populations, is composed almost exclusively of Punjabis.

The ‘vitality’ and ‘dynamism’ of the middle class in Pakistan are channeled into ideological aspirations that negate the modern state

The economist says the middle class anywhere in the world is a factor of dynamic growth: a growing middle class means the country will post good growth rates. But for the non-economist, no two middle classes may be alike. In Pakistan, the middle class is conservative, just like India’s; but unlike India, it is ideological, anti-American and pro-Taliban.

The Indian Constitution informs the attitude of the Indian middle class, which is tolerant of secularism. In Pakistan, the Constitution inclines the middle class to desire sharia and consequently prefer the ‘harder’ sharia of al Qaeda to state ideology. It is the sentinel of the unchanging character of the medieval state presented as a utopia by state ideology.

Continue reading Dangerous self-destruction Disease – Origin of our national mindset

A country for bigotry

Land of bigots

By Tazeen Javed

It has been a year since Shahbaz Bhatti passed away. No, strike that, he did not pass away; his life was brutally cut short when he was murdered. Everyone from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan have been suspected with his murder, either by the police officials, or by the home ministry, yet no decent progress has been made.

In a way, it all makes sense, since only certain kinds of angry groups of men, who bay for blood and destruction, seem to carry any weight around here. Bhatti was NOT that kind of a man. He believed in fighting for rights the democratic way and had planned to introduce legislation that would ban hate speech and hate literature against all. He was campaigning for official holidays for minorities’ religious festivals and wanted the blasphemy law to be repealed which turned out to be a crime worthy of death.

Bhatti’s death is not a lone incidence of brutal violence. Planned acts of aggression and cruelty against minorities — whether ethnic, religious, sectarian or communal — is becoming a norm in the ‘Land of the Pure’. Intolerance has reached such levels that people with names that revealed their sectarian or religious beliefs are afraid to use them when they feel unsafe. Slain journalist, Mukarram Khan Atif narrated one such incident, which depicted the extent of narrow-mindedness and fanaticism in the country. He and another reporter were travelling south from Mohmand Agency through Khyber Agency and one of them had to use a name that would make him pass off as a member of the majority sect.

The minority communities — no matter who they are and where they are living — are constantly under threat. We have cases of forced conversions of Hindu girls, mostly minors in Sindh who are forcefully abducted and married to Muslim men and then presented to the court as religious converts. According to a treasury member of the Sindh Assembly, around 20 to 25 forced conversions take place every month in the province.

Acts of mob violence against Ahmadis seem to be rising at an alarming rate. The situation is such that any Ahmadi family is at risk of being threatened with the blasphemy law. Their places of worship are gunned and/or ransacked and the law-enforcement community and the state does nothing and silently looks on.

The perpetrators of the Gojra incident, where a whole Christian colony was burnt down, still roam free and the Hazaras in Balochistan are regularly targeted for their sectarian and ethnic identity. Also, nothing is done to check the dissemination of hate literature, some of which can be found even in mainstream bookstores. Last week’s tragic shooting of passengers travelling on a bus to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway, where people were asked to show their CNICs and then taken off and killed — all of them were Shia — shows that we have reached an even higher level of prejudice and bigotry.

It would not be wrong to say that intolerance rules our society and no one is safe here in this country other than the men who perpetuate bias, bigotry and hatred?

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2012.

New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

By ERIC PFANNER

PARIS — Many countries censor the Internet, but few spell out their intentions as explicitly as Pakistan.

In an effort to tighten its control over the Internet, the government recently published a public tender for the “development, deployment and operation of a national-level URL filtering and blocking system.”

Technology companies, academic institutions and other interested parties have until March 16 to submit proposals for the $10 million project, but anger about it has been growing both inside and outside Pakistan.

Censorship of the Web is nothing new in Pakistan, which, like other countries in the region, says it wants to uphold public morality, protect national security or prevent blasphemy. The government has blocked access to pornographic sites, as well as, from time to time, mainstream services like Facebook and YouTube.

Until now, however, Pakistan has done so in a makeshift way, demanding that Internet service providers cut off access to specific sites upon request. With Internet use growing rapidly, the censors are struggling to keep up, so the government wants to build an automatic blocking and filtering system, like the so-called Great Firewall of China.

While China and other governments that sanitize the Internet generally do so with little public disclosure, Pakistan is being surprisingly forthcoming about its censorship needs. It published its request for proposals on the Web site of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s Research and Development Fund and even took out newspaper advertisements to publicize the project.

“The system would have a central database of undesirable URL’s that would be loaded on the distributed hardware boxes at each POP and updated on daily basis,” the request for proposals says, referring to uniform resource locators, the unique addresses for specific Web pages, and points of presence, or access points.

“The database would be regularly updated through subscription to an international reputed company maintaining and updating such databases,” according to the request, which was published last month.

The tender details a number of technical specifications, including the fact that the technology “should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URL’s (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds.”

Following the Arab Spring, which demonstrated the power of the Internet to help spread political and social change, Pakistan’s move to clamp down has set off a storm of protest among free-speech groups in the country and beyond.

Opponents of censorship say they are doubly appalled because they associated this kind of heavy-handed approach more with the previous regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf than with the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari.

“The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem, chief executive of Bolo Bhi, a group that campaigns against restrictions on the Internet. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”

Continue reading New York Times – Pakistan Builds Web Wall Out in the Open

REMEMBERING SHAHBAZ BHATTI – MARTYR OF DEMOCRACY & SECULARISM

Citizens for Democracy (CFD) invites you to join in the Candle light vigil to mark the first anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti, former Federal Minister for Minorities. Mr. Bhatti, who was assassinated on March 2, 2011 in Islamabad, was a member of Federal Assembly of Pakistan and an outspoken critic of misuse of Blasphemy Laws introduced by a military dictator, Zia ul Haq.

The candle light vigil will held on March 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm in front of Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim/ Jehangir Kothari Parade, opposite Park Towers, Clifton, Karachi, Sindh. Please join us, invite friends and help spread the word.

Citizens For Democracy (CFD)- citizensfordemocracy.wordpress.com

PAKISTAN – Four Danish nationals booked under blasphemy law

By Khalid Hurral

JHANG: Four Danish nationals have been booked under the blasphemy law in Jhang. According to the FIR No 133, logged with the Kotwali police station, Zahid Saeed Bhutta Advocate filed a petition in the court of Jhang District and Sessions Judge for registration of a case against four Danish citizens.

He alleged that they published blasphemous material in Denmark and uploaded on the Internet, that could be accessed and read all-over Pakistan, including his city Jhang. The judge ordered the police to registrar a case under Section 295/C against the accused, and the police complied with the court orders.

Additional SP Jhang Abdul Qadir Qamar confirmed registration of the case and said such cases were investigated by a senior police officer.

Courtesy: The News

Lollipop Azadi Da – Raj Kakra

By Omar Ali

Raj Kakra is a lyricist and singer from Punjab (East Punjab in the Pakistani lexicon) who seems to reflect a mix of Sikh nationalism ….

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