Tag Archives: religious

Jewish circumcision leave 2 infants in New York with Herpes

Baby boys got sick after the ultra-Orthodox practice

By Reuven Blau / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Two Brooklyn infants have contracted herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual in the past three months, according to the city’s Health Department.

The unidentified baby boys became sick after the centuries-old, ultra-Orthodox ritual associated with the bris known as metzizah b’peh.

Under the practice, the rabbi or mohel removes blood from the wound on the baby’s penis with his mouth — a practice city Health Department officials have slammed, saying it carries “inherent risks” for babies.

The Bloomberg administration has moved to require mohels who perform the ritual to provide parents with a document informing them of the health risks involved. The parents must then sign a consent form.

But several influential religious Jewish organizations have sued, arguing the policy violates the First Amendment.

In January, a federal judge ruled against the group’s initial legal maneuver to block the new city policy.

Continue reading Jewish circumcision leave 2 infants in New York with Herpes

Pakistan supporting, financing religious extremism in Sindh: Lakhu Luhano

London, April 5 (ANI): Secretary General of World Sindhi Congress Lakhu Luhana has blamed Pakistan for supporting and financing religious extremism in Sindh, which has been in the news for targeted killings and sectarian violence.

Describing Pakistan as a country based on religious philosophy, Luhana said: “In recent years, they have been funding lot of madrasas and spending billions. They want to counter the nationalist philosophy, which inheritably is a secular philosophy. To counter that, they have to bring in another philosophy, which is religious philosophy. So, they have been patronizing, sponsoring, supporting and financing religious extremism in Sindh.”

With people from other provinces of Pakistan making a beeline for Sindh, the crime graph in the province is on the rise.

As per the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP), the year 2012 recorded 104 cases of sectarian killings, a 352 per cent rise from the year 2011.

In an interview given to ANI, Luhana said: “These forces want to control Karachi by replacing indigenous people. So, they used all the contradictions, including religious extremism, to fulfill their aims”.

He added: “It is a very dangerous situation, but Sindhi people have never participated in that and have always condemned that. And (Mahatma) Gandhi once said that in the whole (Indian) subcontinent, probably Sindhis are the most secular people. But the speed with which the Pakistani state has been working to support religious extremism, that is really a frightening situation.”

Luhana believes that the rising violence in Sindh, especially Karachi, is happening with the consent of the Pakistani military, the Rangers and the intelligence agencies.

Continue reading Pakistan supporting, financing religious extremism in Sindh: Lakhu Luhano

Pakistan: A vanishing state

By Shabbir Ahmad Khan
Both empires and states fail or collapse. Examples include the Roman, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Mughal and British empires. From the recent past, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Sudan are the best examples. Professor Norman Davies, in his book Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations recounts the history of 15 European states which disappeared. Professor Robert Rotberg, in his book When States fail: Causes and Consequences provides empirical description on a state’s failure. Similarly, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine publishes a list of failed states each year, on which Pakistan ranks 13. Pakistan’s score is just 13 points below that of the most failed state in the world, Somalia, and just five points below that of Afghanistan, which is at number seven on the list.Why do empires and states fail or fall? There are a number of factors for state decline, including social, economic and political. The most common factor is global; it includes intervention by external political agents or forces. In such situations, the empires or states first fail to cope with the new challenges and later collapse. There is a new challenge before Pakistan, which no state in history has ever faced. Today, the world community is unified against religious extremism of any kind and a nuclear Pakistan is heavily convulsed by internal violence linked to religious extremism. After World War II, colonial powers gave independence to many nations, including Pakistan, with a clear rationale or prime motive. At a very critical juncture in history, if states lose their rationale, they lose their right to survive. Pakistan is passing through a critical juncture of her history. If she loses her rationale, she loses her right to exist.Two questions are important to answer the above-mentioned query. Who creates states and what is their rationale — i.e., the cause of their birth? More than 140 states got independence after the two world wars. The winners of the wars designed the world map by decolonising nations. The process of giving self-rule to new states was intentional and purposeful. British rulers, in congruence with the US, wanted to split India for their long-term interests in the region. In my opinion, Pakistan — the same way as the state of Israel — was created as an independent state to guard Western interests in the region. In both times of war and peace in history, Pakistan proved herself as the guardian of vested interests of Western powers. In return, Pakistan also got the liberty to do a number of things, including attaining nuclear capability. Throughout history, Pakistan changed herself with the changing demands of the West to fulfill her utility and her indispensability.

Thus, a militant, extremist, rigid and nuclear Pakistan was in the larger interests of Western powers, particularly to contain the Soviets and its allies, i.e., India. Now, the Western world has changed its policy towards the region where Pakistan is located and has demonetised its political currency by putting immense pressure on the country to change her course accordingly. But Pakistan seems reluctant.

Continue reading Pakistan: A vanishing state

Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

Pakistan seems to be on the brink of religious anarchy. Talbanization of the country has turned Punjab province into a hell for the Christian and Ahmadiya religious minorities. Does country intend to adopt the path of harmony? Silence is the only answer, for now!

On the pretext of blasphemy, around two hundred houses of innocent Christians were set on fire a couple of weeks ago by a fanatic mob led by extremist organizations in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province of Pakistan. This has recently been followed by insurrecting Ahmadiya Muslim minority’s houses in the province. Violence against religious minorities has been on the increase in the most populous province of the country.

Fear and fury has gripped Pakistani Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims; some of them have fled the province while others are considering fleeing Pakistan. The issue has raised the concerns of international community, particularly the western governments.

The shadow of continuous Hindu exodus has already created fury in Sindh province. Blazing a couple hundred houses of Christians has not only jolted the country, emotionally, but has also pointed towards insensitivity of liberal middle class towards minorities. In fact, the eastern-Indus Pakistan has lurched in the psychological chaos. Needless to mention, the western-Indus is already undergoing Taliban and Baloch insurgencies.

Continue reading Talbanisation of Pakistan and plight of Christians and Ahmadiya Muslims

Clerics attack Ahmadi house, torture family in Punjab

By Rana Tanveer

KASUR: Local clerics attacked a house belonging to an Ahmadi family in the Kasur district of Punjab on Tuesday and subjected the family members to violence allegedly over their religious belief, The Express Tribune has learnt.

A mob led by a local cleric chanted slogans against Ahmadi families, their religious beliefs and their community before breaking into Mansoor’s* house in the Shamsabad area. The five members of Mansoor’s family tried to take refuge in a room but the mob broke into the room as well. Police personnel were reportedly present at the spot but did not take any action against the mob. Mansoor was severely tortured after which he lost consciousness, while his wife and his 70-year-old uncle were also beaten. Mansoor was shifted to a hospital where authorities claimed that he is in critical condition.

Continue reading Clerics attack Ahmadi house, torture family in Punjab

Is religious extremism really gaining ground in Sindh?

Extremism gains ground in Sindh

By Zia Ur Rehman

Banned militant groups and new madrassas linked to them are changing the traditionally tolerant and progressive landscape of Sindh

On October 13, unidentified men fired at an Afghanistan-bound convoy of NATO fuel supply trucks in the Shikarpur district of Southern Sindh and burned six of them. Before that, on October 1, a group of 30 armed men attacked NATO trucks at the National Highway near Khairpur district, wounding four people and destroying 10 vehicles. NATO supply trucks had been attacked in Peshawar, Khyber Agency, Islamabad and Balochistan for years, but recently such attacks are also being carried out in Sindh.

Some believe that the motive of such attacks might be insurance claims and not terrorism, but a leader of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed that the men who attacked the NATO supply vehicles in Sindh were in fact militants and belonged to the TTP-linked mobile ‘Siyara Group’.

Sindh’s civil society and nationalist parties fear that militancy and religious intolerance are gaining grounds in the province. New madrassas (seminaries) and increased activities of banned jihadi organisations are affecting the traditional Sufi and progressive landscape of the province. ….

Read more » The Friday Times
http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta2/tft/article.php?issue=20111021&page=4

Sindh, Balochistan mourn over Quetta killing

QUETTA: The governments of Sindh and Balochistan are observing a day of mourning over the killing of 80 people in Quetta on Saturday. The national flag will remain half-mast in both provinces.

Meanwhile, Hazara Democratic Party has appealed for shutter down strike in Quetta against the blast. Political and religious parties have supported it.

Karachi Goods Transporters Association and Oil Tankers Association have also announced to halt supply of goods across the country.

President Asif Ali Zardari telephoned Governor Balochistan Zulfiqar Magsi and directed him to monitor relief operation himself besides providing security to the Hazara community.

Courtesy: The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-88407-Sindh,-Balochistan-mourn-over-Quetta-killing

Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

Was Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

By Saeed Qureshi

Was a country that came into being in the name of religion destined to be a theocracy in the longer run? And that is what exactly happened with Pakistan. Pakistan is awash with radicalism and fundamentalism. The religious militants have taken Pakistan hostage.

The sectarianism is assuming monstrous proportions and running amok with the social peace and stability of the country. The founders would have never imagined that in the state they are striving hard to create, the religious sects would slaughter in public view their opponents and still get away from justice.

The civil liberties in the Islamic state of Pakistan are fast disappearing. The national institutions like police, courts, municipalities, post offices, banks, schools, hospitals, water and power, transportation, taxation and revenue collection are in a state of continuous decay and dysfunction.

All these state building departments are infested with unremitting maladies of corruption, malfunctioning, red tape, disorder, and lawlessness. The visible progress that one can witness is the number of mosques growing; the religious traditional events celebrated every year with renewed passion and fanfare and sectarian vendettas escalating.

If this nascent country was supposed to be rampaged and taken over by bigots and religious reactionaries with no vision of civility and the need of a civil society, then better it was not created. The cut throats fundamentalists force the people to remain stuck up in the past, follow the rituals and then feel free to indulge in any conceivable villainy, wickedness, lawlessness and rioting.

Continue reading Pakistan destined to be a Theocratic State?

PAKISTAN: A new wave of persecution against the religious minorities

PAKISTAN: Military demolishes temple, Ahmadi graves desecrated, a six-year-old Hindu girl was raped and a 70 year old Christian missionary shot

December 6, 2012 – ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-200-2012 – The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a wave of persecution against the religious minority groups has again started with the connivance of military and local authorities. In the recent days more than 100 graves of Ahamadis were desecrated by excavating the graves and breaking the headstones bearing the names of the dead persons. The same happened with a Hindu temple which was destroyed along with the houses by the military authorities, allegedly after being bribed by a private builder who wanted to grab the land. In another case a six-year-old girl from the Hindu community was raped in a bid to push the Hindu community to leave the country and take refuge in India. Also, a 70-year-old Swedish Christian missionary was shot at and is in critical condition. Her cook was also beaten up by the unknown persons two days before the incident.

Read more » ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (AHRC)

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-200-2012

Invasion of the “Jihadist” barbarians in Sindh today continues to take a greater toll. The last gasp of a secular civilization under siege by the fanatic state of Pakistan?

Pakistan’s minority Hindus feel under attack

By REBECCA SANTANA

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — They came after dusk and chanted into the night sky “Kill the Hindus, kill the children of the Hindus,” as they smashed religious icons, ripped golden bangles off women’s arms and flashed pistols. It wasn’t the first time that the Hindu temple on the outskirts of Pakistan’s largest city was attacked, and residents here fear it will not be the last.

“People don’t consider us as equal citizens. They beat us whenever they want,” said Mol Chand, one of the teenage boys gathered at the temple. “We have no place to worship now.”

It was the second time the Sri Krishna Ram temple has been attacked, and this time the mob didn’t even bother to disguise their faces. The small temple, surrounded by a stone wall, is a tiny religious outpost in a dusty, hardscrabble neighborhood so far on the outskirts of the city that a sign on the main road wishes people leaving Karachi a good journey.

Local Muslim residents blamed people from a nearby ethnic Pashtun village for the attack, which took place in late September on the Day of Love for the Prophet, a national holiday declared by the government in response to an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. No one was seriously injured in the attack.

It was the latest in a rising tide of violence and discrimination against Hindus in this 95 percent Muslim country, where Islamic extremism is growing. Pakistan’s Hindu community says it faces forced conversions of Hindu girls to Islam, a lack of legal recognition for their marriages, discrimination in services and physical abuse when they venture into the streets.

Continue reading Invasion of the “Jihadist” barbarians in Sindh today continues to take a greater toll. The last gasp of a secular civilization under siege by the fanatic state of Pakistan?

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

PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

The likelyhood of death sentence being awarded to an 11 year old for alleged blasphemy is symptomatic of the naked abuse of power exercised by religious zealots

By Ayesha Siddiqa, Independent Social Scientist

Let us roll a dice and guess who is more lucky: Abbas, tortured and burnt to death for allegedly blasphemy, or Rimsha who may survive death but will forever be scarred for being nearly sentenced to death on similar charges? Some will probably consider the young Christian girl lucky, compared to Abbas and scores of others who suffered under the archaic blasphemy law.

Continue reading PAKISTAN PERISCOPE – Curse of Blasphemy Law

Pakistan’s blasphemy law: how can we end this colossal absurdity?

The country’s blasphemy law is overwhelmingly being used to persecute religious minorities and settle personal vendettas. As the case of 14-year-old Christian Rimsha Masih gains global attention, why have politicians failed to act?

By: Mohammed Hanif

Fourteen years ago, around the time young Rimsha Masih, now in jail under Pakistan’s blasphemy law, was born, a Roman Catholic bishop walked into a courthouse in Sahiwal, quite close to my hometown in Central Punjab. The Right Rev John Joseph was no ordinary clergyman; he was the first native bishop in Pakistan and the first ever Punjabi bishop anywhere in the world. He was also a brilliant and celebrated community organiser, the kind of man oppressed communities look up to as a role model. Joseph walked in alone, asking a junior priest to wait outside the courthouse. Inside the court, he took out a handgun and shot himself in the head. The bullet in his head was his protest against the court’s decision to sentence a fellow Christian, Ayub Masih, to death for committing blasphemy. Masih had been charged with arguing with a Muslim co-worker over religious matters. The exact content of the conversation cannot be repeated here because that would be blasphemous. The bishop had campaigned long and hard to get the blasphemy law repealed without any luck. He wrote prior to his death: “I shall count myself extremely fortunate if in this mission of breaking the barriers, our Lord accepts the sacrifice of my blood for the benefit of his people.”

Joseph had been pursuing another case, in which an 11-year-old, Salamat Masih, along with his father and uncle, was accused of scribbling something blasphemous on the wall of the mosque. We don’t really know what he wrote, because reproducing it, here or in court, would constitute blasphemy.

The boy’s uncle, Manzoor Masih, was shot dead during the trial. The Masih case went to the high court, where a judge, Arif Bhatti, applied common sense and released him. A year later the judge was murdered in his own chambers, and his killers claimed that the judge had committed blasphemy by freeing those accused in the blasphemy case.

Frustrated and in a fit of rage, the bishop meditated and reached the conclusion that he should kill himself publicly to make his point.

You could argue that Joseph should have organised candlelight vigils, gone on a hunger strike, hired better lawyers. But he had tried everything and realised that a bullet in the head in the middle of a court was his only way to draw attention to this colossal absurdity called blasphemy law.

He was wrong. The law stayed. Many more Christians were killed.

There are situations though, where confronted with the prospect of a 14-year-old being sentenced to death, as a celebrated community leader you can’t do anything but take a gun to your head.

And hope for the best.

Continue reading Pakistan’s blasphemy law: how can we end this colossal absurdity?

When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

By: Shivam Vij

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.

I have been thinking about the incident. Insulting somebody’s religion is bad. It may cause offence. Often it is intended to cause offence. If somebody insults Islam, by doing things like burning pages containing verses from the Quran, it is bound to outrage a Muslim.But what happens when the Muslim has burnt those pages to implicate a Christian? Where does the outrage disappear? Why are the right-wingers and the mullahs in Pakistan suddenly silent? The cleric’s lawyer had threatened the judge that if the girl is let off she could be lynched – such was the outrage! Where has the outrage suddenly disappeared? Where are the calls for lynching the blasphemer to death?

And what does this hypocrisy tell us? It tells us that such outrage is, in the first place, fake.  That their religious sentiments weren’t really hurt when they said they were hurt. It was just that they wanted to persecute Christians and for doing so they were happy to commit blasphemy that they could then accuse Christians of doing!

What does that tell you of the claims of such people over how strong their religious, nationalist or whatever “sentiments” are?

I have noticed several such incidents in both Pakistan and India in the recent past. Let me give you a few examples.

Continue reading When the pseudo-sentiments of the pseudo-religious are pseudo-hurt

Malik Ishaq and the state

Malik Ishaq is today the symbol of the state’s surrender to terrorists.

The scourge of Pakistan’s Shia community, Malik Ishaq of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — an offshoot of  ‘renamed’ Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), which is in a legal penumbra of state ban — has been arrested upon his return from Saudi Arabia, where he could have gone to perform a religious ritual but could also have touched base there with the ‘donors’ who finance the massacre of the Shia in Pakistan. The charges against him of hate speech followed by sectarian killings are quite serious. He was acquitted of the same category last year and let out of jail after remaining there for 14 years.

Continue reading Malik Ishaq and the state

A decaying state kills its minorities

By Khaled Ahmed

The people who target religious minorities in Pakistan had been nurtured as the state’s proxy warriors; the state then surrendered to them its monopoly of violence

A 150-strong mob of pious Muslims in Islamabad committed vandalism, baying for the blood of a mentally challenged Christian child Ramsha because they thought she had burned the Quran. The police had her under arrest pretending it was for her own security. Earlier, a mad ‘blaspheming’ man in Bahawalpur was taken out of jail and burned to death. After the imposition of the Blasphemy Law the first major case was also against a 14 year old Christian boy in Gujranwala who had to be smuggled abroad to prevent him from being killed.

According to World Minority Rights Report 2011, Pakistan ranks as the 6th worst country after some African states in respect of safety and rights of minorities. This includes non-Muslims, those the state has dubbed non-Muslim, and women. Ironically, this behaviour also includes persecution of non-Muslims through forced conversion to Islam, through forcible marriages of non-Muslim girls to Muslims, and apparently willing conversion of non-Muslims to Islam to secure themselves against persecution.

Hindus of Sindh have tried to migrate to India. (Nearly 568 FIRs for forced marriages were lodged last year across 40 districts of Pakistan, with the majority of such cases having been filed in Sindh.) Instead of sympathising with such fugitives, the liberal PPP government suspected them of being disloyal to Pakistan and stopped them – for some time – from visiting India. Hindus are the largest minority community in Sindh.

The minister who did that himself fears being killed by the elements who hunt Pakistan’s Hindu community. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Balochistan chapter has identified an ongoing exodus of Hindu families from Quetta too due to fear of kidnappings for ransom, yet the Balochistan government does not seem to be doing much to address this problem.

Continue reading A decaying state kills its minorities

Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

By DAVID M. HERSZENHORN

KAZAN, Russia — A string of violent attacks by Islamic militants has shattered this city’s reputation as a citadel of religious tolerance and unnerved federal officials in Moscow, who have worked for decades to prevent the spread of radical Islam out of the southern borderlands and into places like this city 500 miles east of Moscow.

Officials have long sought to contain Islamic fervor in the Caucasus to the south while insisting that places like the republic of Tatarstan, where Kazan is the capital, were different, representing a moderate “Russian Islam,” said Aleksei Malashenko, the co-chairman of the Carnegie Moscow Center’s religion, society and security program.

But that comfortable assumption began to crumble just before the start of Ramadan in late July, when a senior cleric in charge of education was shot outside his apartment building on Zarya Street. Roughly an hour later, the city’s chief mufti survived a bomb attack that demolished his Toyota Land Cruiser. A previously unheard-of group, the mujahedeen of Tatarstan, claimed responsibility.

Continue reading Radical Islamic Attacks in a Moderate Region Unnerve the Kremlin

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

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

Shame on us! Hindus leave Pakistan because of religious persecution.

A tale of migrating Hindus

By: Kashif Hussain

Patriotic Hindus, who had refused to migrate to India and remained in Pakistan after the partition in 1947, are compelled to leave the country because of feudalism, class system, religious discrimination, forced conversion and marriages and poor law and order situation in Pakistan.

LAHORE: Patriotic Hindus, who had refused to migrate to India and remained in Pakistan after the partition in 1947, are compelled to leave the country because of feudalism, class system, religious discrimination, forced conversion and marriages and poor law and order situation in Pakistan.

The minority feels society has become more insecure for their young girls and it is also scared after court’s decision in Rinkal Kumari’s conversion case.

Continue reading Shame on us! Hindus leave Pakistan because of religious persecution.

Buddhist Taliban?

Buddhists Behaving Badly – What Zealotry is Doing to Sri Lanka

By: William McGowan

In Sri Lanka last September, a Sinhalese mob led by some 100 Buddhist monks demolished a Muslim shrine in the ancient city of Anuradhapura. As the crowd waved Buddhist colors, gold and red, a monk set a green Muslim flag on fire. The monks claimed that the shrine was on land that had been given to the Sinhalese 2,000 years ago — an allusion to their proprietary right over the entire island nation, as inscribed in ancient religious texts.

The Anuradhapura attack was not the only recent incident of Buddhists behaving badly in Sri Lanka. In April, monks led nearly 2,000 Sinhalese Buddhists in a march against a mosque in Dambulla, a holy city where Sinhalese kings are believed to have taken refuge from southern Indian invaders in a vast network of caves almost two millennia ago. The highly charged — but largely symbolic — attack marked a “historic day,” a monk who led the assault told the crowd, “a victory for those who love the [Sinhala] race, have Sinhala blood, and are Buddhists.”

Such chauvinism is at odds with Western preconceptions of Buddhism — a religion that emphasizes nonviolence and nonattachment — but is in keeping with Sri Lanka’s religious history. Militant Buddhism there has its roots in an ancient narrative called the Mahavamsa (Great Chronicle), which was composed by monks in the sixth century. According to the Mahavamsa, the Buddha foresaw the demise of Buddhism in India but saw a bright future for it in Sri Lanka. “In Lanka, O Lord of Gods, shall my religion be established and flourish,” he said. The Sinhalese take this as a sign that they are the Buddha’s chosen people, commanded to “preserve and protect” Buddhism in its most pristine form. According to myth, a young Sinhalese prince in the second century BC armed himself with a spear tipped with a relic of the Buddha and led a column of 500 monks to vanquish Tamil invaders. In addition to defending his kingdom from mortal peril, the prince’s victory legitimized religious violence as a means for national survival.

Continue reading Buddhist Taliban?

Infiltrating the ranks

FIVE army officers, including a brigadier, have been court-martialled and handed down prison sentences for their links to an extremist organisation, Hizbut Tahrir. Whenever the subject of religious extremism within the army’s officer corps and its rank and file comes up, opinion tends to break down into two extremes. One side argues that it points to some sort of creeping coup, a pernicious radicalisation of the armed forces that threatens Pakistani state and society given the army’s influence over national security and foreign policy. The other side argues that whatever instances of radicalised officers have come to the fore, they are isolated incidents and dealt with professionally and quickly and as such pose no threat to discipline and unity of command in the armed forces. Arguably, neither side is right.

Continue reading Infiltrating the ranks

Pakistan’s extremists whip up frenzy over Burma’s Muslims

The exaggerated version of truth about violence in Myanmar propagated by religious groups in Pakistan to recruit and fund their own agendas.

By Taha Siddiqui

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistanis are mounting protests online and in the streets of cities like Lahore and Peshawar over the ill-treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, a situation that Islamist groups here are distorting to raise money and potentially win recruits.

The international community has raised concerns about human rights abuses against Muslim Rohingyas in Myanmar. Clashes in June between Rohingyas and their Buddhist neighbors, the Rakhine, left 78 dead, according to the Myanmar government. A new Human Rights Watch report calls the number “grossly underestimated” and charges that security forces failed to protect Rohingyas, and in some cases opened fire on them.

But on the streets of Pakistan, the rhetoric runs much hotter with protesters claiming “thousands” of Rohingyas are being slaughtered in western Myanmar (also known as Burma). Online, meanwhile, a series of doctored and misidentified photographs are circulating widely in Pakistani social media and beyond that purport to show violence against Rohingyas.

Investigations by social media watchdogs, and the respected Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune, have proven that most of these claims are exaggerated or entirely false.

For example, one photo posted on a Facebook page originating from Pakistan show Buddhists dressed in their traditional red robes standing in the middle of two rows of dead bodies. The caption reads: “Bodies of Muslims killed by Buddhists.” In reality, this picture is from an earthquake incident in China in 2010, where Tibetan monks came to help with the rescue efforts.

Continue reading Pakistan’s extremists whip up frenzy over Burma’s Muslims

11 Christian nurses are poisoned in Pakistan for daring to drink tea during the month of Ramzan

Christian Nurses poisoned to Punish drinking tea during Muslims Ramadan in Pakistan

Karachi: July 30, 2012. (PCP) Christian staff nurses of Civil Hospital Karachi were poisoned as punishment to drink tea in their Hostel rooms during Holy Month of Ramadan being observed these days by Muslim majority community of Pakistan.

Among Eleven (11) poisoned Christian nurses (3) were rushed to Intensive Care Unit ICU of Civil Hospital Karachi were remaining (8) are being treated in emergency ward.

Civil Hospital Karachi is under ministry of health of Sindh government where Christian medico staff was in majority till 1985.

Staff Nurses Rita, Anila and Rafia were in serious condition in ICU ward of CHK while staff nurse Rita was later transferred on life saving equipment.

There are reports that FIR have been registered against unknown person on poisoning Christian nurses in Aram Bagh Police Station of Karachi and non was arrested so far.

According to Ramadan Ordinance of Provincial Sindh Government, to eat in Public places is prohibited and restaurants and vendors will remain closed during timing of Ramadan.

The Ramadan Ordinance is not imposed on Five Star Hotels in Sindh Province and allows minority community individuals to take meals in indoor facilities.

After independence of Pakistan in 1947, all restaurants have to put curtain on their doors where Muslim and other religious communities were free to dine and smoke during Holy Month of Ramadan but laws of total ban or closure were made after Islamization of Pakistan during Zia-ul-Haq rule.

The poisoning incident of 11 Christian nurses have spread wave of fear among religious minorities of Pakistan and rising extremism in society.

Courtesy: Pakistan Christian Post

http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=3656

Via – Twitter

Thousands of hardline Fundamentalists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

Thousands of hardline Islamists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

By: Wichaar Desk

LAHORE, Pakistan — Thousands of hardline Islamists streamed toward Pakistan’s capital in a massive convoy of vehicles Sunday to protest the government’s decision to allow the U.S. and other NATO countries to resume shipping troop supplies through the country to Afghanistan.

The demonstration, which started in the eastern city of Lahore, was organized by the Difah-e-Pakistan Council — Defense of Pakistan Council — a group of politicians and religious leaders who have been the most vocal opponents of the supply line.

Pakistan closed the route in November in retaliation for American airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani troops. Following months of negotiations, Islamabad finally agreed to reopen the route last week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton apologized for the deaths.

Clinton met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for the first time since the apology Sunday on the sidelines of an Afghan aid conference in Tokyo and expressed hope that resolution of the supply line conflict would lead to better relations between the troubled allies.

One of the reasons Pakistan waited so long to resolve the conflict is that the government was worried about domestic backlash in a country where anti-American sentiment is rampant despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid over the last decade.

The protest started Sunday in the center of Lahore, where several thousand people assembled with scores of buses, cars and motorbikes. They linked up with thousands more supporters waiting on the city’s edge and drove toward Islamabad in a so-called “long march” against the supply line. The convoy included about 200 vehicles carrying some 8,000 people when it left Lahore, said police official Babar Bakht.

After completing the 300 kilometer (185 mile) journey to Islamabad, they plan to hold a protest in front of the parliament building Monday.

“By coming out on the streets, the Pakistani nation has shown its hatred for America,” one of the Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, Maulana Samiul Haq, known as the father of the Taliban, said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore.

Supporters showered Haq with rose petals as he rode through Lahore in the back of a truck with other Difah-e-Pakistan leaders, including Hafiz Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group; Hamid Gul, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief with a long history of militant support; and Syed Munawar Hasan, leader of Pakistan’s most powerful Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Many demonstrators rode on the tops of buses, waving party flags and shouting slogans against the U.S. and NATO. “One solution for America, jihad, jihad!” they shouted.

The crowd was dominated by members of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, widely believed to be a front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people. Jamaat-ud-Dawa is led by the group’s founder, Saeed.

“The movement that has been started to reverse the government’s decision to restore the NATO supply will go on until America leaves this region for good,” Saeed said in a speech on the outskirts of Lahore. “The mission is noble because it is to save the country and the nation from slavery.”

The U.S. announced a $10 million bounty earlier this year for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Saeed, but he operates freely in the country. Pakistan says it doesn’t have enough evidence to arrest Saeed, but many suspect the government is reluctant to move against him and other militant leaders because they have longstanding ties with the country’s military and intelligence service.

Rehman Malik, a government security adviser, said members of banned militant groups would not be allowed to enter Islamabad for the Difah-e-Pakistan protest Monday, but all others would be welcomed.

“They are patriots. They are not anti-state people,” Malik told reporters. “We will welcome them with open arms.”

It’s unclear if they will try to prevent Saeed from attending the protest.

Difah-e-Pakistan is widely believed to be supported by the Pakistani army as a way to put pressure on the U.S. Its leaders have vowed to stop NATO trucks from making the journey from the southern port city of Karachi to the Afghan border. But if the group has army backing, it could moderate its actions.

Continue reading Thousands of hardline Fundamentalists stream to Pakistan’s capital to protest NATO supply line

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

Pakistan: ‘Jihadi danger is from the elite, not the poor’

Muslims and modernity: ‘Jihadi danger is from the elite, not the poor’

By Aroosa Shaukat

LAHORE: Most global jihadis are not illiterates raised in poor slums, but from well-off families and with advanced education degrees. “Most of the danger comes from us,” said Majid Nawaz, founder of Khudi, at a seminar titled ‘Muslims and the Modern World The State of the Muslim Ummah’. Young people being educated at “elite” schools and colleges were joining the extremists, he said.

“Terrorists are not just from slums – statistically, a disproportionate number of global jihadis come from a higher education background,” said Nawaz, who was formerly a member of the Hizbut Tahrir (HT). He quit the group to found Khudi, which works to counter extremism.

Nawaz said there was a difference between the political and the religious definitions of the word ‘ummah’. He said there was no contradiction between being a Pakistani and being a Muslim. Pakistanis could carry multiple identities, he said, owing to religious or social affiliations. “People themselves organically determine who they are, as a group or a nation,” he said.

He said it was “politically naive” to demand the implementation of the Sharia, the main aim of the HT. He said that when imposing Sharia, a society chooses a particular interpretation of Islam and closes the door on ijtehad. “Islam must be kept free of political interference,” he said.

He called for a comprehensive national strategy to counter extremism. All political and religious factions should agree on “basic social principles”, he said.

He said that the National Counter Terrorism Authority needed to be activated. He said that the government had not even started the “de-radicalisation of society”.

Science and religion

Science requires free thinking, a mind that questions,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy in his talk on ‘The intellectual decline of the Muslims’. He said that Muslims had moved away from progressive scientific approaches over the last 700-800 years.

Continue reading Pakistan: ‘Jihadi danger is from the elite, not the poor’

‘Taliban are Pakistani military without uniform’ says Hyrbyar Marri

In the wake of the first anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s killing by American elite troops, DW takes a closer look at Pakistan’s “other” war in a rare interview with a prominent Baloch leader.

Hyrbyar Marri is the fifth son of Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri, a veteran national leader and the head of the largest Baloch clan. In the late 1990s Hyrbar Marri went into exile in Britain. In 2007, he was arrested under a warrant issued by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and held in Belmarsh – a maximum security prison in southeast London. Prominent British human rights advocates such as Peter Thatchell campaigned for Marri and accused the British executive of collaborating with Musharraf’s regime. Marri was eventually acquitted in 2008 by a British jury and remains in Britain where he has recently been granted asylum.

DW: What’s the current situation in Pakistani-controlled Balochistan?

Continue reading ‘Taliban are Pakistani military without uniform’ says Hyrbyar Marri

Yeh theeka aik ghareeb mulk Pakistan nay keyoon uthaya hay…?

Comment by: Manzoor Chandio, Karachi, Sindh

Should Pakistan be a responsible state having friendship with all the countries in the world for the sake of its poor people or it should be a terror hotbed, training camp for separatists from across the Muslim world, safe haven for Taliban and launching pad for Al Qaeda militants …? …if we don’t talk about the USA, Europe & Nato… all four neighbours are not happy with the country…. China says East Turkistan’s religious separatists are getting training in Pakistan… Iran says Jundullah is a Pakistan-based organisation …  Afghanistan says it’s attacked from Pakistan … India has thousands of complaints … Pakistan’s Constitution doesn’t allow many armies and militias in the country… there should be one official army… then why so many armies and militias have been allowed to run in the country…? those who have done this to Pakistan are the biggest enemies of this country… harbouring of these armed groups has slowed the democratic process & created many problems for Pakistan…it has tore down the Whole socio-economic fabric of the country… why Jihad & Uma’s all works are not being done in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich centre of Islam…? Yeh theeka aik ghareeb mulk Pakistan nay kiyoon uthaya hay...?

Courtesy: Manzoor Chandio’s facebook wall.