Stories about blasphemy

Why Taimoor Raza’s death sentence does not come as a surprise in Pakistan

Last week, an anti-terrorism court in Bahawalpur gave 30-year-old Taimoor Raza a death sentence for allegedly blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on social media. The verdict left many stunned since it was the first time a death sentence has been given to someone for their actions online. Yet, despite it being a shocking legal decision, it was not a surprising one. At least not for those of us who have been keeping up with the country’s constantly evolving crackdown on its citizens’ cyberspace activities. For years now, activists, politicians, and journalists have bemoaned the many ways that Pakistan’s antiquated blasphemy laws can be abused. Whether it is ...

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It’s time Nawaz Sharif realised the importance of women in politics

I am very much a child of the ‘90s. The decade has had a profound impact on my intellectual development and has ended up shaping my political ideology. It was during that time that I started to realise that religious extremism, mistreatment of women, political conservatism, and civil military imbalance were the gravest problems which Pakistan faced. It was during that decade when a string of  incidents involving blasphemy charges shook me to the core and changed me as a person. It was during that time when I began to realise that our mind-set is largely misogynist and our ...

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When Mashal Khan fell victim to our criminal mind-set

Yesterday, I received the news through a WhatsApp message wherein my younger brother sent me a video clip and requested me to watch it. Although the video was brief, about 45 seconds, but it was long enough to make me sick to my stomach. What I was seeing was barbarism at its worst – a large crowd beating an already dead man. Many were silently watching and no one was even trying to stop it. That video, along with many others, has gone viral. At a time when the global opinion about Muslims and Pakistan is already worsening, this ...

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The world will judge Islam by the way Muslims behave in the name of Islam

A year ago, the government took a bold decision by hanging Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of late Salman Taseer. The funeral, despite the media’s lack of coverage, was attended by thousands of people, highlighting the appeal of a man who was nothing but a murderer. One year later, thousands of hardliners defied the rally ban to attend his first death anniversary. The sad reality is that for many, Qadri is a hero, and the significant percentage of those who disagree with his actions have an “empathetic” attitude towards him. I have heard people coming up with all kinds of justifications ...

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Salman Haider cares more about Pakistan than any of his critics do!

Pakistan is in the international spotlight and once again for all the wrong reasons. Three weeks have passed and yet there has been no news of the whereabouts of the abducted liberal bloggers. What’s been making the news instead, is the vicious campaign against those bloggers and those supporting it. The main weapon is the allegation of ‘blasphemy’ which is now hurled at activists like Jibran Nasir as well. Charges of blasphemy are supplemented with accusations of treason against the state. These bloggers have so far not been brought to court despite the fact that there are laws governing the ‘crimes’ ...

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Can we blame the West for thinking of Muslims as they do?

In recent times, religiously motivated terrorism incidents have taken place in the West, from Brussels to New York. Due to these barbaric acts perpetuated by extremists, ordinary Muslims are also facing excessive backlash in Europe as well as in the United States. We, as Muslims, are correct to complain that it is unfair to bracket ordinary Muslims with the extremists, but at the same time we need to understand that our negative reputation is not merely due to organisations like ISIS but also because of our behaviour in general. I am not trying to equate extremist organisations like ISIS with normal and moderate Muslims here, ...

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Our minorities, but not our people

Avinash Kumar and Sateesh Kumar; these were the two latest victims of the undeniably worsening trend of minority persecution in Pakistan. Seventeen-year-old Sateesh is dead. The two boys were targeted because the local community was ‘incensed’ by reports that a Hindu man, Amar Lal, had ‘desecrated the Quran’. Since they were Hindus and easy targets, someone in Ghotki saw them as fair game to act out their deeply (and rather easily) offended religious sentiment. This incident is disturbing but not just because of its depraved message of murderous retribution for any perceived ‘blasphemy’. It is also a grim reminder of the lack of sensitivity towards psychiatric illness prevalent in Pakistani society. By the accounts of local Hindus, Amar ...

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Soaked in scarlet for Eid: Today’s bystander could be tomorrow’s victim

The last one week has seen attacks in six different cities of the world, all of which have been claimed by the so called Islamic State, and all of which have made headlines across the globe. People of various religious and denominational persuasions lost lives. They were targeted by the so-called Islamic State loyalists, inflicting carnage that knew no religion or nationality. These attacks should reinforce that IS can represent anything but an Islamic State. If there are any IS apologists even in Pakistan, then they have a lot to ponder upon in finding justifications in defence of the indefensible. The attack ...

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Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of Ahmadis in Pakistan

Chaudhry Abdul Khaliq, a 50-year-old Ahmadi homeopath was killed with a single gunshot to the head this Monday in the Abul Hasan Ispahani locality of Karachi. This is the second fatal shooting of an Ahmadi in this locality in a three week period and a continuation of the increase in violence against the community since the attack on Darul Zikr by the Punjab Taliban in 2012. Unfortunately, many of us continue to remain in denial about the treatment of Ahmadis in Pakistan and refuse to accept that the level of discrimination and the slow trickle of violence against them is untenable and unacceptable. In an attempt to put things ...

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What would Barbie be like if she were to come to CII’s Pakistan?

Let’s open a can of worms (an interesting exercise if indulged in occasionally) and wonder what it would be like if Barbie (of Ken fame) came to Pakistan as a franchise. Since a non-Muslim woman before being co-opted into a Muslim family must become Muslim and change her name, Barbie, before being launched in Pakistan must do the same. I speak of Pakistan which rejoices in the name ‘The Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ as of a family, however dysfunctional, and of Barbie as a sort of Qaum ki bahoo, (the nation’s daughter-in-law) which puts Sania Mirza’s nose out of joint. It’s ...

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