Stories about freedom of expression

A patwari and youthia walk into a dhaba…

Or any place that serves a karak chai for that matter. The humdrum chatter at the venue drowns out any prospect of awkward silence. The two engage in conventional small talk as they await the chai that arrives shortly. From there, it’s all tea-dunked biscuits and fun until the conversation inevitably steers towards politics. All it takes is one comment critical of the current administration and one in rebuttal before the two simultaneously yell “patwari”, “youthia”. They storm off in their respective directions as the remaining chai turns just as cold. It is deeply disconcerting to witness a similar attitude of swift stereotyping and disengagement in ...

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“Desi Website”– Indulge yourself! There is no shame

Surfing aimlessly late at night, I came across a cool website, Where feeble hearts remain unseen, Modest are few and far between.   Where every topic always leads, An attack on someone else’s creeds. To hurl insult just take a pick: Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Sikh.   You meet chest-thumping fanatics, Old-fashioned mullahs, liberal chicks. Imposing on adversary’s mind, The likes and dislikes of their kind! And all are free to blow their lids, Till wisdom dims, and reason skids.   Most favorite sight? The view of rear, The world revolves around Kashmir. Check out, my dear friends, tonight, With Google search “Desi Website”. Indulge yourself! There is no shame, Just hide behind a ...

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Turkey and its war over Islam

As Turkey mourns the loss of 39 souls in the fifth terror attack to strike Istanbul in a bloody 18 months, the country’s plight unveils the two arms of Islamism unfolding against Turkey’s century-old canvas of civil, pluralist Islam. One is known as violent Islamism, and the other, less recognised but more covert (and, for that reason, more ominous), is institutional Islamism. While the gunman has already been identified and claimed by ISIS as its soldier, Turkey is learning the institutional Islamism that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pursued for decades is no protection against violent Islamism. Erdogan’s Turkey is increasingly governed by institutional, non-violent Islamism, a ...

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Is it really the working class men who stop privileged women from ‘doing their own thing’?

Yesterday, we shared the Do Your Own Thing (DYOT) video with our take on it. The video was taken down last night, so our post has disappeared… along with all the shares made from this page. For the sake of the on-going discussion on social media right now, we are re-posting our comments again: This video has recently been shared a lot and the feelings many people expressed have been mixed. We think it is useful to talk more about it and add to the conversation. Firstly, kudos to these girls. This could not have been easy to do. We have to be ...

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A common Pakistani’s response to Happy Bhag Jayegi director’s open letter

Mr Mudassir Aziz, Proud Indian, Director of Happy Bhag Jayegi. Dear Mr Mudassir Aziz, I just read your open letter to Pakistan on The Quint regarding the unfortunate ban on your film Happy Bhag Jayegi in Pakistan. I am not the person in charge but merely a common Pakistani, for whose benefit you want to get the film unbanned. Let me say at the outset, that having successfully fought against the YouTube ban as a lawyer in the Lahore High Court, I am absolutely opposed to censorship of any kind. I believe any speech, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unconditionally. I recognise that this ...

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Is Wasim Akhtar getting a fair trial?

First things first, as a member of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), someone who has seen Mr Wasim Akhtar’s work closely and is aware of his political inclinations, I would like to state clearly, boldly, and without a doubt that his arrest is unlawful. The arrest in question was made whilst he was at court, attending a hearing for his bail extension in relation to charges attributed to him in Dr Asim Hussain’s alleged confessional statement. My reasons stem, first and foremost, from the fact that the so-called confessional statement made by Dr Asim was made before the infamous Joint Investigation Team ...

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How far is the state willing to go to police the internet in Pakistan?

It is unfortunate that every time activists engage the government in a discussion regarding the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB), with the aim of protecting civil liberties in cyberspace, the government in turn makes the law more complex and open to multiple interpretations. In recent days, an extensive round of deliberation was carried out with the senate’s standing committee and sub-committee on information technology. This time, digital rights organisations somehow managed to push legislators through, with the help of a few sane voices, in the senate for removing and/or improving the sections contravening the essence of democracy vis-à-vis civil liberties. Pakistan has ...

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Germany sexual assault proves Europe’s liberal culture is destroying it

Liberal values require that wealthy democratic countries promote democracy in poor countries ruled by dictatorships. This has resulted in bombing countries to prepare the way for democracy, particularly if these dictatorships are located in oil rich regions and have anti-western foreign policies. Such appears to be the logic behind recent wars against Libya and Iraq and the overthrow of their decades old governments. The same effort has been made in Syria but has been inhibited owing to the Russian defence of the Syrian Assad regime. These wars for democracy have created more instability and terrorism and achieved the opposite of ...

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From Komal Rizvi’s selfie to a doctor’s negligence, where are your ethics, Pakistan?

The social media, particularly Facebook, has transformed into a deadly force to reckon with. Its raw and potent power struck me in the wake of three recent issues that, although unrelated, have garnered massive negative response by the public. In all three issues, there was another side to the story, which majority of those who were commenting on the posts relentlessly, were not aware of. The first is that of Komal Rizvi’s controversial selfie with Edhi. There were countless memes made, which led the singer to release an explanatory post. The second issue concerns the alleged medical negligence of Dr Shehnaz Hussaini to her nine-month pregnant patient ...

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Planning to study in France? You can’t if you wear long skirts

Recently, Sarah, a 15-year-old French Muslim student, was suspended twice from class for wearing a long black skirt because it was seen as a violation of the ban on religious symbols in public schools in France. Due to this, France is facing a severe backlash against its so-called strict secular policy after the event took place. The justification provided was that if Muslim girls start wearing long skirts in a conspicuous effort to show their faith, then some will argue that is a breach of the secular law. The ban on religious symbols in school was implemented in 2004 but the updated version of the French Constitution ...

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