You can’t defend the Prophet (pbuh) by torching your own city!

Published: September 22, 2012
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Setting pumps, cars, flags, etc on fire was the highlight of the widespread Anti-Islam film protests. PHOTO: AFP

Blasphemy is a sensitive subject, especially in Pakistan. A topic so sensitive that it can get governors killed after a cup of coffee, ministers shot after they drive out of their homes and 12-year-old children behind bars for ‘allegedly’ committing it.

Victims of blasphemy cases in Pakistan sign their death warrants. Why does it then come as a surprise to know that more than 15 people were killed and 219 wounded in protests across Pakistan yesterday?

Because this time, rampant damage was caused to property and life of people who had nothing to do with it.

Life and property belonging to the Muslims.

Calls for peaceful protests on Friday against the blasphemous film were rational. Muslims all over the world were already outraged at how it was made and released under the garb of freedom of expression. In Pakistan particularly, it brought together many liberals and extremists under one agenda; absolute condemnation of the film.

But how did we register our protest against an attack on the Holy Prophet (pbuh)?

It was done by setting fire to petrol pumps and cinemas, killing policemen and burning their vehicles to ashes. The protestors, oblivious to the hypocrisy of their act, even set ablaze a church.

In Karachi only, five cinemas now meagrely stand to narrate the tales of yesterday. One of them is the famous Bambino cinema for its link to Hakim Ali Zardari. Although there was now a plan to turn it into a shopping centre, Bambino was once often frequented by President Zardari and his friends.

Maybe he can feel its loss greater than anyone?

The stage for Friday was being set since a day before. I had an important meeting to attend on Thursday and hoping to reach the venue quicker, I made the unfortunate decision of using Murree Road, Rawalpindi.

Even at 11 am, rallies were being taken out by students of different schools and enthusiastic hands were busy painting US flags on the road. The traffic was, obviously, choked. I had to reschedule the meeting but what was observed in the traffic jam was utter helplessness on people’s faces.

Children and women were sitting in cars under the sweltering sun, while men tried to request the organisers to let them pass. Even an ambulance was stuck, and what looked out to people through its tinted windows were anguished eyes of a patient’s relative.

It is sad to see, that even on a day known as ‘Ishq-e-Rasool’, a violent display of mob mentality reigned supreme.

Yes, we’re angry. Yes, we’re hurt. Yes, we must protest!

But could it not have been a peaceful protest?

Milaads, conferences and seminars should have been organised to highlight and raise awareness about the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) impeccable character; his benevolent and forgiving nature.

Such opinions were echoing loud even on social media after Friday’s inflamed riots.

Haroon Shuaib updated his status;

“I would’ve preferred, if today, all the Muslims of the world had gotten together to recite darood together for an hour. Imagine! That would’ve been a world record for the rest of the times to come. That cheap, two bit, film devoid of any substance would’ve just looked like trash.”

Events are now also being organised with an aim to ‘show the world that ‘real’ Pakistanis don’t believe in violence’. People are being asked to bring cleaning utensils to places most affected by the violent protests and clean the debris left behind after the destruction. Requests are also being sent to offer mithai and garlands to the brave policemen who fought to honour their duty and country.

The Holy Prophet is an epitome of peace and forgiveness; an exemplary figure for all mankind. We are all well-versed with incidences from his life where he even forgave people who threw garbage on him.

It must be realised that such blasphemous content will continue to be published to incite hatred. But it is time for us to understand that self-destruction can never be the answer, just like it is time for the OIC to stand united and raise a unanimous voice that resonates within the international community.

Read more by Sabeer here.

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Sabeer.Lodhi

Sabeer Lodhi

The author is studying at Monash University, Melbourne. He is a student and supporter of human rights with a focus on gender equality, minority rights and feminism. He tweets as @sabeerlodhi (twitter.com/sabeerlodhi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Common Pakistani

    It’s very sad indeed! And no sane human)Pakistani, muslim or not) will not condone any of these actions.
    Mr Lodhi, you seem to be a quite well known and popular journalist in the country, since you have quite a space in a leading web based news channel.
    My question is did you come across news of any peaceful protests anywhere in Pakistan? Irrespective of size or place where they took place.
    Obviously you did, but you chose to use your influence and authority of pen to highlight something which was not so good. I was told that that bad actions is one thing but publicising it as bad as the fact itself. Now, please don’t tell me you aimed to criticise these protests. Criticism is a whole new subject and is not meant for negative minded folks, one of the essential element is comparison followed by a positive conclusion/outcome or a lesson and is phrased based upon the understanding of target audience.
    I have nothing against media machinery in my beloved country Pakistan but a deep regret; these monsters are based in my country and are constantly associated with its name-‘Pakistani’ media.
    I wouldn’t mind them being in Pakistan if at least they re-brand themselves based on their real identity.
    Can you do that for me, please?Recommend

  • Common Pakistani

    It’s very sad indeed! And no sane human (Pakistani, Muslim or not) will not condone any of these actions.
    Mr Lodhi, you seem to be a quite well known and popular journalist in the country, since you have quite a space in a leading web based news channel.
    My question is did you come across news of any peaceful protests anywhere in Pakistan? Irrespective of size or place where they took place.
    Obviously you did, but you chose to use your influence and authority of pen to highlight something which was not so good. I was told that that bad actions is one thing but publicising it as bad as the fact itself. Now, please don’t tell me you aimed to criticise these protests. Criticism is a whole new subject and is not meant for negative minded folks, one of the essential element is comparison followed by a positive conclusion/outcome or a lesson and is phrased based upon the understanding of target audience.
    I have nothing against media machinery in my beloved country Pakistan but a deep regret; these monsters are based in my country and are constantly associated with its name-‘Pakistani’ media.
    I wouldn’t mind them being in Pakistan if at least they re-brand themselves based on their real identity.
    Can you do that for me, please?Recommend

  • omair shahid

    excellent article destroying your own county property will only harm us not them it’s time we realize this.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Why do these people behave in this manner ?
    I think that this show of violence was orchestrated by the so called religious parties as a political signal to say ‘look at us we are strong’ and our government was clueless as to how to respond. Recommend

  • Tabinda Hussain

    I would just like to point out one thing; where we cannot out rule the possibility or indeed fact that peaceful protests may have been carried out, we have to see that majority of the protests throughout Pakistan were violent. This is time we need to come to our senses and realize what is actually going on, and how are we supposed to react. The movie was just a trigger and we proved to them that “they” were right, all along.Recommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    “all governments have the duty, the solemn duty, to defend diplomatic missions”,
    Yes,agreed with the view expressed by the American secretary of state and foreign affairs.

    Solemn,
    what is the real meanings of solemn duty,vigilant angry mob tried to storm into the American embassy in Islamabad,state forces stopped them, resulting in received sever injuries,can be witnessed them admitted in hospital.
    In other incident,happened in Lahore,protestors attacked American consulate provincial police force defended received fatal injuries during the action.It is called solemn duty.

    on the other hand,
    what have you done in regard to the highly objectionable film?In the name of freedom of expression ,you provided safety of all those involved in such heinous crime.
    It was your solemn duty to bring amendment in the relevant law without wasting any time.

    Now, have you seen the world Muslim’s reaction on the blasphemous film.Muslims can tolerate everything but not desecration of holy prophet (pbuh) Some countries behave in this connection is not acceptable,absolutely not.Recommend

  • http://www.kabacreations.com Vishnu Dutta

    That film was a trailer, pakistan is the real and full movie.Recommend

  • http://www.theapostlesing.org kingdom

    It is high time Muslims come to appreciate the realities of our times. What happens if they ignore any blasphemy to their prophet or religion? Can blaspheming do any harm to their prophet or religion? No, it can’t remove anything from who and what they already are. They can cage themselves as matters concerning their religion, but to cage others, it can’t be possible. Like in Christianity, they passionately love their Christ and religion, but will only laugh at any one trying to ridicule them. It doesn’t remove anything from Christ or their religion or damage their faith. God is able to defend Himself from anyone trying to ridicule Him and whatever He institutedRecommend

  • http://Www.google.com Silent

    Yes we need n0t to be panic than to be silent and peaceful protesters,what wrong can we do the America by destroying our own property.
    The question is can we stop America by doing so?but more to say is actually we are encouraging them.Recommend

  • Salman

    Wrong – we need to stop protesting and stop caring about what anyone says. Ignoring it is the civilized way and only correct way. Recommend

  • Mr. Rob

    Honestly, the violence in Pakistan shows that Pakistanis are extremely ignorant, intolerant, and lack the ability to use common sense. Freedom of expression is not a threat to Islam. But ignorance-precisely the same ignorance shown by all those who have been protesting in Pakistan-is a threat to Islam.

    These angry protesters are giving Islam a bad name across the world. Now, Muslims-who might otherwise be known for their peacefulness and compassion-will now instead be known for their intolerance and extremism-and I’m not just referring to militants either. The supposed “moderates” who joined the protests simply gave into the extremists’ desires to turn Muslims as a whole against the world in a very violent and disrespectful manner.

    Before the protests across Pakistan and the world, this stupid little film caught the attention of absolutely nobody who would pose a threat to Islam. Hardly anyone knew that it was even posted on Youtube, and almost nobody viewed it. It was made by one or two producers who were not well-known, not well respected, and who almost no one in the US or other countries even paid attention to. It really was just a matter of one or two human beings who desicded that they were against Islam.

    But due to the protesters embarrassing behavior, they have given the film makers undue publicity. Now, almost everyone has heard about the film, and millions of people who would never have even seen the film are interested in watching it just to see “what all the fuss is about.” Indeed, those Muslims who have been protesting violently or even just disrespectfully have actually fulfilled extremist Muslims’ desires to turn Muslims against all Westerners (even those who respect Islam).

    Do you really think that ordinary people across the world who happen to be non-Muslim will now embrace Islam as a result of the protests? Could it actually be that these protests have made all Muslims look like intolerant idiots, and therefore bringing shame on Islam as a result? Recommend

  • faizan

    Effective protest also needs to be researched, planned, implemented and evaluated.Recommend

  • http://tribune.com p r sharma

    @Sultan Ahmed:

    What is sacred to you may nor be sacred to others. How much you love the prophet is personal to you . others are not bound to care your feelings.
    To you making of the blasphemous movie is a heinous crime while others disagree with you.
    You want to impose your judgement on the matter on USA to change the law of freedom of speech.
    They love the freedom of expression in no way lesser than your love to Prophet.

    How it is acceptable just because Muslims are protesting violently. You have learn to bear the criticism.( in other words to be tolerant)Recommend

  • 3rdRockFromTheSun

    What use is a peaceful protest, after all! People gather, shout slogans and go back – a cummulative waste of time!
    The violence in the protest is a masterstroke! All the buildings broken, cars smashed, goods destroyed – will need to be replaced, which will mean someone has to make / rebuild said buildings, cars etc. Isn’t that a tremendous boost to the local economy! Think of the brighter side.Recommend

  • CM

    The church that was burnt in mardan has been attacked by Muslims before too..read all about it here
    http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=2281

    And then they wonder why non-Muslims wanna leave this beautiful and oh-so-peaceful nation….

    Bomb blast destroys a Church in Pakistan

    Mardan: September 14, 2010. (PCP) Islamic militants planted a bomb near wall of Lutheran Church in high security zone of Mardan and detonated it on September 12, 2010, when Muslims were celebrated 2nd Eid Day in Pakistan.

    The JUI activists were also protesting on same day in city of Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pukhtunkhawa against burning of Quran in USA on September 11, 2010.

    The building of Lutheran Church was totally destroyed by the bomb blast and injured two security officials on duty at Church.

    There were no religious services in Church at time of blast when it was Sunday, a day of prayer in Church which saved more causalities but bomb blasted at night.

    The injured were rushed to hospital and administration ordered to arrests culprits while not any militant group have accepted responsibility.

    Meanwhile, in a wake of protest against announcement of one Pastor’s burning Holy Quran Muslim protested torched a Christian School in Srinagar, in Indian Kashmir.Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    islam is a self destructive religion Recommend

  • curious

    You can’t defend the Prophet (pbuh) by torching your own city!

    Agreed.

    Now the real question. Can you defend the Prophet (pbuh) by torching the rest of the world?Recommend

  • Arooj Khan

    Such protests when done on a wide scale can usually turn violent especially in a country like ours where the vast majority of protesters get incited on smallest of issues and do not pay heed to logic or reason.The people behind these demonstrations should actually plan on carrying out peaceful and organized protests if they want to achieve something… Instead what we saw on the television screens and in our own cities was a blatant example of cowardice, coupled with ignorance and illiteracy.Besides the religion is a very touchy subject, if the protests about electricity and gas shortage can turn so violent, then religious demonstrations are always going to be a step ahead.Recommend

  • HUM

    @Common Pakistani:
    sarcasm
    well guess what world is watching. it has seen us burning our own cities in the name of protest. Reality is reality it wont change to suit us.Recommend

  • umer

    Aren’t protest a democractic way to build pressure on the government to do or not to do something ? In Pakistan government is already protesting (is it not ?), then what is the sence of protesting ?
    It is true that peaceful protest can be done to send a message to international community as well.
    I doubt that people protesting have anything to do with religon. Killing innocent people for what ? destroying cinemas for what ? torching public property for what?
    This is insane, but every Pakistani is to blamed who have not contributed towards the betterment of literacy and awareness in Pakistan.
    Its like a saying which is common among Karachiites – if you do not cast your vote means you indirectly vote for MQM. Similarly if you dont contribute to make your society civilized, polite, educated etc. you indirectly help Fake Mullahs to preach intolerance.Recommend

  • http://lonepkliberal.wordpress.com Loneliberal PK

    Thank you, government, for giving the angry mobs a day off so they may vandalize people’s properties and injure their fellow citizens.

    Next time, keep them at work so they stay busy.Recommend

  • English teacher

    we dont deserve pakistan.. We were better off under British oppression. Recommend

  • Humanity

    “Milaads, conferences and seminars should have been organised to highlight and raise awareness about the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh) impeccable character; his benevolent and forgiving nature.”

    State certified Pakistani Muslims need to:

    1) take a course called Islam 101 (theory – learn the real stuff and not the delusional fairy tales made up by Zia ul Huq and his advisors)
    2) take a course called Islam 102 (practice the actual acts of peace, tolerance, humility, and benevolence instead of becoming skilled in running a fatwa factory and a conspiracy mill)

    Pakistani Muslims should talk less, and instead practice the morality they try to preach to others.Recommend

  • Reality

    Wah Pakistan Wah

    Ishq-E-Rasool k Name Per Aatish-E-Namrood Saja Di….
    Dil Dukhaya Ghiaron Nay Aur Aag Apnou ko Laga Di..!!Recommend

  • Fayaz Dar

    In Saudi Pakistani are known to have religious fever and now they have again proved it by burning their own country.Recommend

  • http://LA Arian

    @Zalim Singh

    You froth at the mouth whenever presented with an opportunity to degrade Islam. Please don’t compare the followers of identity politics or political Islam with mere adherents of Islam, there is a marked difference between them. Recommend

  • Pir Bulle Shah

    Cities are brick and mortar. Our Prophet (PBUH) reputation is forever. What value do cities have?Recommend

  • Nishant

    all this violence reminds me of what happens to young children in schools

    kid- “mom i wont go to school that girl teases me, makes fun of my name.”

    Mom- “so why do you get teased”

    kid- “Mom I hate it when she does it and i turn red by anger”

    Mom – “just ignore her”

    the kid fights and even complains to the teacher
    the girl promises not to tease the boy again , but moments later, just as everyone was leaving the school premises
    …..
    the “evil and satanic and infidelic” girl pases a small remark on the boy from the school bus, as he walked to home.

    so what should the little boy do….?
    tear his own clothes, burn his books in the backpack he is carrying or worse…reach home in rage and smash the windows of his parents car….?Recommend

  • A

    @Pir Bulle Shah:
    Do you think he would be happy by the way we acted? Do you think we made Allah happy? Don’t you think he would have wanted us to act in accordance to Islamic laws and teachings?Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    Prophets do not need defense by the common man. This argy of violence is by the bigoted minds to show off their strength and threaten the state that they will take over the state one day.Recommend

  • umar

    totally agreeRecommend

  • sars

    @Pir Bulle Shah:
    True but what actual lasting value does your home car or money have , it doesnt mean you set fire to them. Family doesnt remain with you forever, doesnt mean you kill them.

    Treating people and their belongings with respect and dignity honours the prophets (PBUH) teachings better than burning and destroying cities.Recommend

  • http://comments Sultan Ahmed

    @3rdRockFromTheSun:
    Desecration of holy book,unacceptable,blasphey regarding the last prophet is also intolerable.
    No compromise on both the firty acts.In view of the fragile status of relationship,Uinted States should consider the law of ”freedom of expression”It is dire need of the time ,bring amendment therein Recommend

  • Jaahil

    I think we so called ‘Pakistani Muslims’ feel that we are better than Saudi Muslims. I have been watching news about Saudi Arabia but have not come across any piece of news showing that Saudis have burnt property and killed people to protest against this piece of crap movie. This reminds me about a proverb; more loyal to king than king himself. My point is that if Saudis can remain peaceful then why can’t we? I think the difference is that in Saudi Arabia government keeps mullahs at leash, whereas in Pakistan mullahs roam free like stray dogs and bite anybody and everybody.Recommend

  • Midhat

    @p r sharma:

    You have learn to bear the criticism

    Mr. Sharma , You can be criminally charged for Anti-Semitism if you just Deny Holucast! You can be charged for racism if you profile any black in a derogatory way! A commercial showing a nun as pregnent was banned because it was thought to be disturbing for Catholics. However, a competion was Hosted on Facebook for Cartoons of our Holy Prophet but try doing it for Holucast and experience the Hypocracy.

    Please realise the difference between cristism/freedom of speech and Hate speech. The Movie as Ms. Clinton herself termed was made for the purpose of Just insluting 1.6 Billion people acorss the world. it wasn’t cristism, it was a hate crime. Its about time the world revisists the definitions of Freedom of Expression and Hate speech. Or atleast quit the hypocrasy when it comes to Muslims.

    Having said that We in no way endorse the Mob reaction that resulted in death and destruction. Please note that this was to ignorannce, lack of education and a vent of frustration for a society that is deviod of basic necessities of life, good governance and education. They in don’t way represent Islam and the teachings of The Holy Prophet(PBUH) Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    There is an old saying among Pashtuns that if I am unabe to take any action against my enemy, I could atleast kill my own father. This is the expression of hoplessness, a mere expression of hopelessness to be ruled by imbacile and incompetent Govts who do not represent the interests of the people. Pakistan Govt coud have protested to thr USA Govt, the only one in the western world with a rotten constitutution which allows such attacks on the religion, and issued a warrant of arrest against the culprit coptic egyptian. As well as asked for the extradition of the accused. Pakistan Govt should als alowed the peaceful demonstrators to march on USA Embassy. It is upto the American Govt wheather to stop aggression from their soil against muslims or withdraw their Ambassador from the Muslim counries.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • jazzup

    Openly, I have been following the events; it has been a good learning process. Honest to goodness, from satanic verses, an unfortunate attempt to burn the Holy Quran to cartoon and films, the miscreants have kissed the dust by dishing out this dirt, absolutely worst than a wolf whistle. All this could easily be categorized as a multitude of sins.

    I believe, Pakistan certainly went in a different manner by celebrating the day as a day of respect for the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Perhaps this is what actually has allowed most of the people to be less than pleased. The other verdict was from Turkey, labeling it as a crime.

    Now the after math, an actress of the movie went to court against Google and it was felt as Google is yet to winnow the offensive material from YouTube she might come out with flying colors resulting into abscission of the substance. I had the following questions, could that actress term the verdict as decision from the “Kangaroo Court“? Why Google has partially blocked the movie? Why has not any American Muslim approached to the court neither against the people behind this movie nor versus Google?

    On account of media houses, only Al Jazeera Al Jazeera did a bit of job by having an interview with the Editor of that Newspaper from France. On CNN, Zakaria asked a few questions from Mr. Rushdie, openly, he is going to play both ends by pronouncing it as “ Rage Machine “. Earlier some one had a cleric from Egypt. BBC had covered it under its usual programme “Have Your Say”. The question is why any media conglomerate didn’t come up with an idea to discuss the issue with the Holy Father.

    In the same breath, there were a few good articles from the US academia and a few from the Euro zone. All suggesting to move towards technological / digital research to deal with such, what is being termed at large as “Exceptional Situation “.

    Now the demonstrations, particularly in Pakistan. Yes, Bad news travels fast. The dirt did urge the people to put the bee in the bonnet. Yes, it was a pain in the neck; rather still it is, they would keep on baying for blood of those perverts. On account of literacy it would take time when people do learn to have some thing done in fine art. Along side protesters media must not egg upon such events negatively.

    Its certainly has been meat and drink to those American miscreants. Yup! YouTube has certainly taken it under the chin. Now the big question; has Pakistan along side any other Muslim country around the globe enacted any such cyber law which could coerce Google that this particular content has violated the local laws and these countries must be bold as brass. Further, the users must not harden their hearts towards YouTube.Recommend

  • realist

    “You can’t defend the Prophet (pbuh) by torching your own city!”

    You actually need to defend the Prophet from his so called followers. Islam is really in danger because of the Muslims.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    jazzup,

    very well narrated; American 1st and 14th amendment of the rotten constitution which is being used by the satanic followers. If American leadership does not amend this impasse or some rich American muslim does not challenge this protection to criminals, America will be forced to close their Embassys and operate only with a consular mission in all muslim countries. in the meantime muslims have no other alternative but to avoid violence which under no circmstance is justifiable.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • jazzup

    Rex Minor

    Pleasure to have your thoughts. Yup! freedom of expression has been the drape. On the other side, it would take best will in the world to turn over the leaf. The last Blasphemy case was in 1838; even Blasphemy is included in the List of Sins of Bible.

    May I please disagree with your notion of closing American Embassies; closure of American Embassies is not the Hobson’s choice. On protests, it has already been said that on account of education it would take time when people do learn to have some thing done in fine art.Recommend

  • jazzup

    @Rex Minor:

    Pleasure to have your thoughts. Yup! freedom of expression has been the drape. On the other side, it would take best will in the world to turn over the leaf. The last Blasphemy case was in 1838; even Blasphemy is included in the List of Sins of Bible.

    May I please disagree with your notion of closing American Embassies; closure of American Embassies is not the Hobson’s choice. On protests, it has already been said that on account of education it would take time when people do learn to have some thing done in fine art.Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Jazzup,

    No one is proposing closing of Embassies. The choice is with the country who allows their hoodlums to denegrate others religions. They have the choice to have diplomatic relations with muslim countries or undertake military operations in muslim countries.

    Morsi has now told the UNO that we will not accept the denegration of Islam and our prophet.Freedom of Expression was not intended to encourage extremism in the world.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11375793199898765321 Pakistani 1414918

    The only great thing about these protests were about 20 of these illiterate subhumans died. That means 20 less of these venomous beings for our country to deal with. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Vishnu Dutta:
    How original… Recommend