Stories about blasphemy

According to this “scholar”, ‘sins such as murder and rape will be ignored as long as you pray’

The dilemma of the contemporary age is the excess of unsorted information masquerading as knowledge and the most abundantly distorted type of ‘knowledge’ these days is ‘religious’ in nature. A certain breed of such so-called scholars exists among us, disseminating a message that is far from truth. Their half-baked ideas about religious norms, practices and forms of punishment aren’t based on logic or humanity. Such religious quacks probably existed before our time too but the ubiquity of social media brings them to our phone screens whether we want them to or not. Recently, I came across one such ‘religious cleric’ ...

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Remembering Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on his 201st birth anniversary: “I did not understand the value of time”

In the aftermath of the War of Independence of 1857, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) emerged as a key leader of the Indian Muslim community, being a thoroughly modern Muslim in a thoroughly pre-modern age. He is credited for originating the Two Nation Theory, founding the Aligarh Movement and being a founding father of Pakistan. Less celebrated are his achievements in providing a modern, scientific and rational interpretation of Islam and the Holy Quran, as well as his debates on culture that – in the face of stern opposition from fundamentalists and detractors – sowed the seeds of enlightenment ...

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Jinnah’s Pakistan: Why Christians voted for Imran Khan

The minorities living in Pakistan have perhaps been more adversely targeted since 9/11, with them being harshly exploited by the majority on the basis of their religion. Brutal incidents against the Christian community in Pakistan have gained international media attention, but politicians who made many promises in the past to work equally hard for minorities conveniently forgot about their promises once obtaining a seat in the parliament. Before Imran Khan turned towards politics with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), there were many famous politicians who made their party manifestoes in favour of the minority, just to grasp their attention and their vote. They pandered ...

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Jibran Nasir 1 – 0 Religious intolerance

Over the course of last two weeks, Mohammad Jibran Nasir, an independent politician, has faced a thorough degree of inquiry regarding his beliefs about Ahmadis in Pakistan, and the legitimacy of them calling themselves “Muslim”. For his refusal to curse them – a condition set by a corner meeting attendee at the promise of a vote – he has been accused, publicly, of being a blasphemer. Being an army brat, I am largely reluctant to voice my opinion on matters that are rather political. Our conditioning, generally, is such that we maintain consistency in following disciplined lines of action – ...

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With Donald Trump’s travel ban 3.0, is America any safer?

Today, the Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban to be fully enforced. This ban restricts visas from eight countries, including six Muslim-majority nations. The premise: ‘national security’. But does such a ban really make Americans safer? Here are five points all Americans need to understand. 1. Religious extremism, not Islam, is the real threat There is no denying the fact that religious extremists, and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), pose a grave threat to the United States. These groups pervert religion for ulterior geo-political agendas. Their violent rhetoric – advocating for the killing of homosexuals, ‘blasphemers’, apostates and anyone who disagrees with ...

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Ahsan Iqbal was shot but the bullets were provided by the very hands he shakes

As I write this, the country is still reeling from the shock of an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal. I am grateful that the minister has survived and is on his way to recovery. The accused attacker, who has been caught, claims to have attempted this assassination on the pretext of protecting “Khatm-e-Nabuwat” (finality of Prophethood). Considering the fact that Ahsan himself is a religious and a very decent person, this is an extremely dangerous development. It shows that now, literally, anyone could be a target, if some fanatic believes that he or she has violated the sanctity ...

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The Mashal Khan case verdict brings victory, hope and a lesson for Pakistan

The dawn of April 13, 2017 saw the might of a monster that was long nurtured in Pakistan. A monster of hate, intolerance, violence and one who misuses the blasphemy law as a tool of vengeance. This time the prey was Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old, mass communications student at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). The ghastly lynching done as a ‘great service’ to Islam was a manifestation that human beings are capable of carrying unimaginable proportions of barbarity, if they are driven by religious conviction and self-righteousness. The investigation that followed soon revealed that the allegation of blasphemy against Mashal was, in ...

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There could only be one Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s valiant moral compass

Last year, I wrote an article praising a person who I consider to be my most favourite Pakistani, Ms Asma Jahangir. In that article, I wrote how courageous she was and how she had taken principled liberal stances throughout her life. Due to this, her support for any political party or institution was not constant. She supported the judiciary during the lawyers’ movement and was its fiercest critics later on when she found out that judiciary under former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry was overstepping its constitutional authority. She supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) point of view ...

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Yes, Richard Spencer is a racist, but the US is still a democracy governed through a system of checks and balances

Richard Spencer, an American firebrand and a symbol of the alt-right movement in the US, recently delivered a speech at the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida. Spencer’s prior claim to fame was leading the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. That rally ended in violence leaving an outright clash between Spencer’s followers and counter protesters. Spencer is known as a champion of white supremacy. When he announced that he was coming to Gainesville to deliver a speech, the university panicked. Initially, they tried banning his speech. Spencer countered by threatening to sue the university. He argued that he was allowed ...

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Why is public lynching becoming an acceptable form of vigilante justice in India and Pakistan?

It is unfortunate that unruly mobs are now hijacking civic spaces in India. With the confidence of being able to dissolve the unidentified in the crowd, the barbaric act of public lynching seems to have become the new norm. While Indian citizens geared up to kick off the nationwide #NotInMyName campaign against the on-going vigilante violence and mob lynching, a cold-blooded crowd stooped to demonic levels in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district by lynching a mentally challenged 42-year-old woman, Otera Bibi, on suspicions of child kidnapping and trafficking. (Viewer discretion advised: The following video contains graphic images) After beating her mercilessly for three hours by tying her to a tractor, the ...

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