Stories about ban

Niqab, blasphemy and the life of an 8th grader

A shocking example of the severity of ignorance within our society is the blasphemy case against an eighth grade Christian girl, based on something as trivial as a spelling error. Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony in Havelian, accidently misspelt ‘naat’ as ‘laanat’ in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). While the blasphemy law and its affect on minority rights – who ironically it was meant to protect – has been part a controversy whirlwind this past year, the fact ...

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Facebook ‘poked’ by Lahore High Court

The Lahore High Court has directed the ministry of information technology to block access to all websites spreading religious hatred, which may possibly include Facebook at the end of an investigation. What is it that we plan to achieve through this ban?  While I cannot possibly defend the distasteful and offensive contest (Draw Prophet Muhammad day) held on Facebook, many have expressed concerns about the possible hypocrisy and ineffectiveness of this move. Rest assured that in the interest of mitigating the spread of religious intolerance, I am sure the LHC has been working just as tirelessly to ban websites with anti-Ahmadi content (or ...

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Why Google is important for freedom

It came as a shock to many when interior minister Rehman Malik indicated that Google and YouTube could possibly be shut in Pakistan. Most businesses, particularly those that promote Pakistani businesses in Pakistan and abroad online, knowledge seekers, researchers and students use Google and YouTube as a vital tool in their daily lives. For any techie, this report in the press was a little amusing. According to the reports, Malik announced that the government reserves the right to ban Google and YouTube in Pakistan if the ‘Google administrator’ does not assist them in their criminal investigations. Perhaps he forgotten that the Pakistan’s cyber crime law, under ...

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Land of confusion: Why we’ve lost the war on drugs

Recently it was the UN sanctioned International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, another day of world leaders, NGOs and others lying through their teeth about their success in ridding the world of the scourge of narcotic drugs to try and justify their pay checks. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is very different. If you’ve seen the Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 movie Traffic, a remake of the brilliant 1989 British television serial Traffik, starring Jamal Shah among others, you might remember a very relevant piece of dialogue. It happens when teenage junkie Caroline introduces herself during a rehab support group ...

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‘Shisha is too fun to ban’

A study published in 2008 revealed that there is a link between heavy hookah smoking and incidence of cancer. And yet, the Sindh Assembly’s decision to outlaw the smoking of shisha has been met with much skepticism. Twenty year old Hassan* says: “It is rubbish. They should ban cigarette smoking first!” But will arresting the frequency of cigarette smoking make the ban on shisha more acceptable? “Banning cigarette smoking will show that the government has a clear policy against smoking,” Hassan asserts. “Prohibiting shisha will only affect a small portion of the general population.” The question of acceptability looms like a specter, putting a match ...

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Is the veil not cool enough for France?

Is it difficult to be a woman, a Muslim and a self-proclaimed fighter of gender discrimination – and not support the French government’s ban on the burqa? Nope, no problem. In fact, I feel I am in a position of advantage as a member of a religion that has come under fire from the world’s democracies as well as an outspoken advocate for  equality for both sexes. Let me iterate here: I do not support the ban on the face veil. It is tantamount to human rights violations against minorities. What is French culture? The French government’s ban  says that the ...

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Banning opinion: What would Gandhi do?

In the words of 16th century English author and philosopher Francis Bacon: Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. In the 21st century, a section of Indian politicians want to add one more line to this sentence: some books are to be banned without reading and knowing the name of the author. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Joseph Lelyveld’s book Great Soul: ...

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Lie, cheat or steal: The key to success

Salman Butt, a man who as captain of the Pakistan cricket team managed to provide us with a constant reminder that our politicians aren’t the only ones without scruples, has gotten a job as a TV expert commentator. That’s just wonderful. The fact that they’ve hired a man who isn’t even allowed to be involved in any form of professional cricket, for the disrepute he brought to the game and to Pakistan, is absolutely disgraceful. This poor excuse of an athlete shouldn’t be allowed to profit in any way from the game that he very skilfully helped tarnish. This is yet ...

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The truth behind the Basant ruling

The Basant prohibition has been explained officially in terms of foul play by kite flyers who use metallic wire or coat their twine with such preparations that it becomes fatal for the people in the streets who happen to get it on their throats. But the real reason is the clerics’ hatred of the festivity. They campaigned against it calling it a Hindu festival and a pagan ritual. The Muslims, they insisted, must be barred from it. It was on account of this campaign that the prohibition was proclaimed. Hindus revere and worship everything in nature. To them, the stars, the ...

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Should Muslims celebrate Valentine’s Day?

The internet has been inundated with emails, Facebook posts and videos encouraging people to boycott Valentine’s Day and claiming that Islam prohibits the holiday. One video made by a group of young boys quotes historical references to prove that V-Day is un-Islamic. I received a text message that said “Speak against the kuffar and boycott Valentine’s Day!” A student in one of the classes that I teach said: “Celebrating Valentine’s Day is gunnah.“ While another said: “Do you know the Americans came up with this event to mess with us? They’re trying to take Muslims away from their faith by showing them such celebrations.” Perhaps these ...

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