Stories about freedom of speech

In the event of a terrorist attack, why are Muslims in the West forced to assure the world that they are “good” Muslims?

We witnessed yet another terrible and senseless attack against innocent people in London, in which seven people were been killed and some 50 injured. And it was only a week back when a suicide bomber of Libyan origin killed 23 innocent people at a concert in Manchester. Muslims from the local community are equally outraged and several joined hands with the local community to help. Muslim doctors at local hospitals worked side by side with other colleagues for long hours to assist incoming casualties. However, this is not enough. Whenever a terrorist strikes anywhere, but more so in a western capital, Muslims all over the world are asked to make ...

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I applaud Trump for inspiring such great progressive moments in the US

Post 9/11, the world became a very different place. However, no one could have predicted how the heinous acts of a few deranged individuals that September day in 2001 would affect the lives of more than a billion Muslims across the globe. On their part, Muslim Americans were naturally traumatised to witness the sudden thoughtless rise in islamophobia and hatred towards their community. So they internalised their fears and saw merit in distancing themselves from all national socio-political discourses. Barack Obama’s progressive policies did bring some relief for Muslim Americans. Unfortunately, his sincere efforts at instilling confidence within the marginalised Muslim ...

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Oh Canada…

Fear is an unusual entity. More often than not, it is unwarranted and unreal. But it becomes the biggest reality some of us will ever experience. And if we aren’t careful, it becomes us. It becomes the people around us.  A lot has already been said about Islamophobia. A lot has been spewed in the broad spectrum of bigotry, hate, prejudice, terrorism and intolerance. In Canada, in the wake of the recent racist attack on a Quebec mosque early this year, the Canadian government decided to pass an anti-Islamophobia motion known as M103. As per the bill, the government felt compelled to “recognise the need ...

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Why was Khabaristan Times blocked?

Freedom of speech is defined as “the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint”. Seems simple enough but caught between the war between the liberals and conservatives in Pakistan – two words which mean entirely something else here – it is more about making a chutney out of it or a yoyo or rather a squishy ball that can be thrown at anyone’s face to win any argument. A certain TV show anchor/religious scholar/ Ghalib movie fan/ two-week PHD prodigy/ game show host/mango seller/actor was taken off air by PEMRA after numerous complaints were made. On his show, he ...

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Is Fidel Castro’s life really worthy of commemoration?

In what was a political paradigm dominated by plump dictators and disengaged philosophers, Fidel Castro and his accomplices gave new life to the left-wing. Their irresistible charisma, packed with unshakable ideological commitment and trademark physical appearances inspired an entire generation of revolutionaries. Although Fidel may have lost out to his fellow Che in the T-shirt revolution, in the larger historic-political context, Castro’s impact and significance far outweighs his former comrade. Escaping an estimated sum of 689 assassination attempts, the man built a communist state at the door step of the United States, sustaining it for almost six decades and out-lasting almost 11 American presidents. The ...

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Should Imran Khan abandon his quest to expose alleged corruption?

Right then. Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Tahirul Qadri and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and possibly the Lal Masjid folk as well, are scheduled to ‘lockdown’ the capital on November 2, 2016. Pakistan may be many things, but man oh man, politically boring is definitely not one of them.  So here’s the deal: some of the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) kids had offshore companies in their name linked to properties held abroad – leaked by the hacks into Mossack-Fonseca. Imran Khan (the opposition) demanded the PM step down on moral grounds, and the PM didn’t. An investigation was supposed ...

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Of dirty politics, Cyril Almeida, Lal Masjid and Asia Bibi

The Supreme Court’s adjournment of Asia Bibi’s final hearing, the Lal Masjid warning of dire consequences of her release and Cyril Almeida, Dawn’s prominent columnist and purported inheritor of Ardeshir Cowasjee’s mantle, figuring on the Exit Control List, have all converged to test Pakistan’s status as a civil society based on the rule of law, equal protection of minorities, free speech and an independent press. The issue of Asia Bibi has no doubt inserted the government of Pakistan between a rock and a hard place, but it is precisely from where the present government can emerge with credibility or merely ...

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A common Pakistani’s response to Happy Bhag Jayegi director’s open letter

Mr Mudassir Aziz, Proud Indian, Director of Happy Bhag Jayegi. Dear Mr Mudassir Aziz, I just read your open letter to Pakistan on The Quint regarding the unfortunate ban on your film Happy Bhag Jayegi in Pakistan. I am not the person in charge but merely a common Pakistani, for whose benefit you want to get the film unbanned. Let me say at the outset, that having successfully fought against the YouTube ban as a lawyer in the Lahore High Court, I am absolutely opposed to censorship of any kind. I believe any speech, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unconditionally. I recognise that this ...

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Azealia Banks and our obsession with her attention-seeking “hairy curry scented Punjab” tweets

My niece is a huge ‘One Directioner’ (is that what they are called?) and was heartbroken when the boy band lost one of its key members, Zayn Malik. We insist on a special connection with this young musical icon on account of sharing a nationality and probably having a Zain for a classmate or a Malik for a neighbour. This gives us the inalienable right to judge him of course; from his tattoos to the racy lyrics of his new singles. “Haw Haey! Larka haath sey nikal gaya!” (The boy is getting out of hand!) He should thank his lucky stars he isn’t a ...

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Spare us the crocodile tears. Please stop. Khurram Zaki is dead. Do something.

Khurram Zaki is dead. The ‘unbearable lightness’ of intimidation and murder in Pakistan has manifested once again. The eulogies are pouring in; speculations are rife about who is behind the assassination of yet another liberal social activist and on social media a familiar war of words has commenced. Despite the fact that one bright light after another is being summarily extinguished, it appears that self-righteousness is still the prime mover of the national discourse. For the legion of Google scholars and keyboard Jedis, it’s all or nothing; either faith in its entirety must be indicted or the blame must lie elsewhere. ...

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