Will it even help if I raise my voice for Shama and Shahzad?

Published: November 21, 2014

Shama's father with her three children. PHOTO: EXPRESS TRIBUNE

The Kot Radha Kishan case of lynching a Christian couple, Shahzad and Shama, is no longer breaking news. In fact, killing minorities has hardly ever been ‘breaking news’ in Pakistan. As minorities are tortured, condemned and brutally killed in broad day light, it comes as no surprise at all to now find out that the family of the slain fear for their lives as they seek justice.

Shahzad and Shama were thrown into a brick kiln by an angry mob for having burnt the verses from the Holy Quran. There was no evidence, no investigation, no hearing, just an atrocious execution. Days after the shocking event, which caused a lot of stir in the cyber-world gaining international attention, this is the first time that the state will be acting as the plaintiff in the case.

Even though the state will be setting a precedent by acting as plaintiff, whether the state will finally look into the blasphemy laws and perhaps amend them, is yet to be seen. Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Aasia Bibi and countless others have been victims of a law which makes no sense at all. It is as though we tread on a very thin line when it comes to blasphemy in Pakistan. You just never know when you will be targeted under this law created by General Ziaul Haq.

Putting the pertaining issue of blasphemy law aside, as there is no way that this blog is going to change it, I will shift my focus on what the relatives of Shahzad and Shama are going through.

Even though the media has given tremendous support in condemning the atrocious act committed against Shahzad and Shama, and has paved out a way to seek justice for the couple that was murdered in cold blood, the family of the victims now fear for their lives. According to a press conference that was held earlier in the week, the family reported that they are being offered money and land as compensation and are being pressurised to withdraw their case. They have also received threats. The family has informed the police about this, but we all know too well how ‘safe’ they could be in the hands of the police. They have demanded protection as it’s their lawful right to do so, but they are not getting any. So in case one of the surviving members of this family is murdered, are we again going to raise our voice on social media platforms that will result in more international humiliation or is the government going to give them the safety that they deserve?

Why is it that the blood of the minorities is any less ‘red’ than that of the majorities? Why is the family that is already going through such an ordeal, not being given protection and instead are being forced to take back their case? And lastly and more importantly, when will the government look into the blasphemy law? These questions, although simple in their context, are quite complex in the mysterious thread of the society and the government.

I demand justice for Shahzad, Shama, Sahar Batool, Aasia Bibi, and countless others. But who am I?  I’m just another ‘majority’ who is a ‘minority’ in her country seeking justice only on humanitarian grounds but perhaps will not be offered any. So what’s the point of me even being classified as a majority since my demands are going to be squashed over like those of the minorities?

Zara Hafeez

Zara Hafeez

A digital marketer, writer, a history buff, volunteer for humanitarian causes for The James Caan Foundation, UNICEF Promise for Children, among others and a tea-aholic. She tweets as @zara_hafeez (twitter.com/zara_hafeez)

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

  • Akbar

    You just spoke for everyone who is part of ‘majority’ yet a ‘minority’Recommend

  • normskyy

    Yes you should because we all have a social Obligation on speaking out against oppression, evil, and Injustice

    Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

    “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his
    hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking
    out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by hating it and feeling
    that it is wrong] – and that is the weakest of faith” (Narrated by
    Muslim, 49)
    You’ve done the right thing.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    change the mob justice and these lynchings
    for once, just once make people believe that their religion is not in danger from anyone but themselves.
    apologists are quick to say these incidents do not represent islam, but this incident was motivated by an alleged blasphemy, attack on islam..?
    terrorists chant allah ho akbar while beheading innocents, is it still not enough to acknowledge that perhaps something needs to be done by muslims

    u know a society is crippled to the core when they find it easy to form angry mobs than organized queue at a billing counter.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Author blaming Zia without knowing the case of Rangila Rasool.Recommend

  • vinsin
  • HashK03

    Zara has done a great job by raising her voice and awareness.

    But as normskyy presented (Muslim, 49), Angry mob was perhaps operating under this instruction. Without knowing the truth, without any knowledge of their responsibilities and limits in society and without care for the innocent couple they killed.

    Now it’s the responsibility of state to demolish this law and any other law which raises ambiguities when serving justice.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The politicization of our law enforcement agencies and the collapse of our judicial system is primarily to blame…….but I would also hold the media responsible to a great extent because they have the power to exert immense pressure but after a few days when another case comes up, the old one is forgotten.
    Someone should start a programme called ‘ Follow up ‘……..to keep alive important issues like this, until closure is achieved…..many viewers will follow it.Recommend

  • Ernest Dempsey

    Zara, kudos for speaking against injustice and brutality. Yes, your voice matters. It may not precipitate a sudden overturn of social/judicial/administrative attitudes. But in the long run, it is the voice of protest that makes a difference for better (or worse). All those you named – who have been killed – are heroes who raised a voice of protest against injustice and cruelty. And your voice is part of their voice and of our voice. Keep writing. We need writers like you for a better tomorrow.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    It not so much as to whether you should raise your voice or not, it is more on the lines of “where” to raise your voice. on the internet sitting on your laptop while in the comforts of your home it is relatively easy to raise your voice. but on the flip side it does not have much of an effect as most of your readers here are liberal minded and sane. (read free from extremists mullahistic thoughts and the delusions that are side effects of such thoughts).
    but when you raise your voice when sitting among your friends and your collegues you will find that it is harder to side with sanity and there will always be someone who will be tainted with mullahism and extremism, for such is the reality of Pakistan where 25% people are in favor of extremists. So raising your voice among those people will take guts but it will have a bigger effect.
    bottom line. Raise your voice on the net on a liberal forum and the effect is negligible. Raise your voice in real life, in any city of Pakistan and the effect is greatRecommend

  • http://bushranaz.blogspot.com Bushra Naz

    Kot Radha incident is not only about the underprivileged segments of
    bonded labourers and minorities, it’s about the sickness of attitude
    that makes ‘beating a pregnant woman to death, along with her husband’ a
    righteous act. And if that’s not enough, the bodies were burned in the
    kiln. While we do this to the ones who belong to poor social segments, without even
    confirming the allegations, we conveniently let those go who manipulate
    blasphemy law for their vested interest. We didn’t see a similar
    outrage for the cause when it was proven in the court of law that Khalid
    Jadoon, the local cleric, had burnt the pages of the Quran to put the
    blasphemy allegation on Rimsha Masih.Recommend