Stories about blasphemy

Pakistan, a nation filled with tolerance and forgiveness

Now and again, we are reminded that it’s impossible to politely engage everyone on this planet and no tolerant society should ever try doing that. It is important to begin by recognising that religious intolerance has a number of dimensions within it. Sources of religious intolerance, for instance, can be the actions or policies of governments and/or the actions or beliefs of individuals or groups in the society. Targets of religious intolerance can include members of specific religions or religion in general, people who choose to change or disregard their religion, and even the people randomly victimised by religion-related terror or armed ...

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On demonising sex: The Saudi adult shop controversy

The author requests the reader to approach the following account with an open mind. Of all the numerous nature-ordained acts which continue to be demonised in our society, by a populace which often unknowingly adheres to virtually all sides of the political/theological spectrum, the subject of sex, particularly consensual sex (should the intimate affair be enacted in thoroughly halal settings) appears to raise more eyebrows than others. Of course, this particular issue is not the sole focus of a heightened consternation evoked among our varied peoples – the vast majority of Muslims worldwide who like to think of themselves as being part of the ...

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Is atheism rampant in the Middle East?

Just recently Ahmed Harqan, an Egyptian human rights activist, stunned television audiences all over Egypt and rest of the Arab Middle East, by claiming his non-belief in the existence of God and his profound disdain to religious scriptures and ideology. Following this astonishing revelation, a raging debate sparked all over the Middle East, since religion has been the most sacred form of thought in these parts of the world. It was very uncommon to discuss faith and scriptures, as it was considered blasphemous to question the doctrines of religion, and was even punishable legally. But over the last few years, things have taken ...

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A giant cross will not help Pakistan’s Christian community

Ever since the last two devastating church attacks in Peshawar and Lahore, the pressing issue of minority rights has received increased attention. The government’s futile attempts to provide a safe haven for the state’s minorities have been all in vain. In the wake of this pursuit, yet another effort is being carried out to assure that the minorities are considered equal inhabitants of this country. A 140-feet tall cross is being constructed in one of Karachi’s oldest Christian cemeteries, which is also claimed to be the largest across Asia. Financed by the Henry Gill family, the construction work is supervised by Parvez Henry Gill himself. The cross ...

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By destroying relics, ISIS is committing the greatest blasphemy

Yesterday, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroyed an ancient Christian monastery which has been described as the equivalent of Canterbury Cathedral. ISIS have allegedly blown up the monastery of Mar Behnam near the town of Qaraqosh built by Assyrian king Sanharib. pic.twitter.com/9XC5TD9k0G — EnaLolena (@EnaLolena) March 19, 2015 Just weeks earlier, it raided Mosul Museum and filmed themselves destroying all the relics on show, including priceless, irreplaceable Assyrian statues. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2i9583 This is a throwback to the infamous episode of when the Taliban destroyed the ancient great Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001. The rationalisation is the same. In typical Wahhabi-inspired nonsense, ...

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Pakistan’s moral catastrophe – Don’t execute Shafqat Hussain

Shafqat Hussain, the youngest of seven children, came to Karachi from Kashmir in search of work in 2003. Having struggled with a learning disability, Shafqat failed in school. He was 13 years old when he dropped out, barely able to read or write. He sought refuge in a metropolis that had no space to give and was quickly relegated to the city’s fringes. He never saw his parents again. When he was 14, still four years under Pakistan’s legal age of adulthood, Shafqat was detained illegally by the police and severely beaten. The boy was held in solitary confinement, his ...

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Christening our Muslim land with blood

Five years ago, I lost close friends in one of the most gruesome terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil. In twin attacks on two major Ahmadi places of worship in Lahore, 88 worshippers were martyred by the Taliban. It was a painfully bloody day. This weekend, I woke up to sad news from Pakistan that made me relive some of that pain. Fourteen worshipers were martyred and more than 70 were injured when two Taliban suicide bombers blew themselves up outside churches in Youhanabad, Lahore. These attacks on Pakistan’s Christian community are not a sporadic event. They are a part of a very tragic trend. Just over a year ago, another ...

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Our way or the high way: Vigilante justice for Lahore Church Blast

The minority communities in Pakistan have been facing immense threats to their lives and the recent bombing on the church in Lahore is yet another gruesome manifestation of the extreme form of religious bigotry which threatens the existence of minorities in Pakistan. Yesterday, a church in Youhanabad, a neighbourhood of Lahore, was hit by two suicide attacks, leaving 14 dead and over 70 injured. But the question is: is terrorism only external or has it deeply penetrated into the national and social psyche? We all rightly protest whenever minorities are targeted, be it the beginning of last year when a suicide attack was carried out on a ...

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Who will help the Christian slum dwellers in Islamabad now?

Three-year-old beady eyed Nazia frolics mischievously around the room, trying to coax a response from me. Her mother scolds her, ordering her to go play with her younger brother outside. I, for one, am glad that Nazia is a child as she is oblivious to the constant fear that looms over her family – a fear of being left homeless by the end of this year. Nazia and her family are one of the 80,000 unfortunate slum inhabitants, living in Maskeen Colony Islamabad, one of the thirty odd slums that have been notified by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for evacuation on the pretext of being ...

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Willful ignorance

What do you want, God? What do you need? Submission, obedience and blind faith; is that all you require of me?   I am sorry, my Lord; this dogma I refuse to accept, From the Master of the universe, more compassion do I expect, You are the Vicegerent, the Supreme and the Omnipotent, Am I alive to live in fear? Is that how I am supposed to view your strength?   My heart does not believe it! It does not concur, It trusts a God of mercy and benignity, not tyranny and terror, They kill in Your name; they torment and subjugate, Will bigotry prevail over forbearance? Is that our fate?   They shed ...

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