Stories about minorities

Ahmadi rights: No grounds for a burial

Politics is a dirty business, be it at any level. Add religion to it and it makes a messy mix. On Sunday night, the body of an Ahmadi citizen was exhumed from a graveyard near Bhalwal, because the graveyard was a Muslim one. The police harassed the family until they acquiesced to the demand. There are only two Ahmadi families in that area, but they have lived there for decades. According to the brother of the deceased, their elders were also buried in the same graveyard. But this time around, the clerics in Sargodha decided that they did not want a ...

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How to fight the Taliban… with Islam

Pakistan just can’t get a break. If it is not being drowned by floods, it is being set ablaze by suicide bombers. On Friday, at least 53 people were killed and 197 injured in a suicide bombing targeting a Shia Muslim rally in Quetta. A day before, three bombs exploded at a Shia procession in Lahore, with a mounting death toll of 35 people and wounding over 170. The Taliban have taken responsibility for these attacks and boldly asserted that Shias are their targets. The argument that the Taliban use to justify their actions is simple, Shias are non-Muslims and apostates, ...

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Chronicles of blasphemy

The British Raj criminalized blasphemy in 1860 and till 1986, the maximum punishment for the crime was ten years in prison. An amendment in 1986 created penalties of life imprisonment and death. This makes the Pakistani blasphemy laws the harshest in the world. Section 295 C awards the the death penalty for innuendo or insinuation. Words which, by very definition, are subjective. Our criminal system can put a person to death for vague terms. Here is an example: Muhammad Mehboob (alias Booba) was accused of putting ishtihars on the main gate of his local mosque which were allegedly against the dignity of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and hence ...

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All in the name of religion

Aristotle said, “The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual.” It’s a good thing that he did not live to see the way laws are made in Pakistan, set in place too frequently by individuals for selfish reasons. Case in point: the blasphemy law When General Ziaul Haq started tweaking the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in 1982, he introduced Section 295-B, which made desecrating the Holy Quran or making a derogatory remark about it punishable by life imprisonment. Unsatisfied with his contribution to the law, in 1984, he added Section 295-C. The clause added the death penalty ...

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Where are we going?

Independence Day is around the corner and yet I feel sad. It is a joyous occasion but I feel empty. How can I feel happy when our nation is bleeding? It saddens to me to see how we are on the path to self-destruction with no care for what happens for our future generation. I thought that terrorism was our only problem but now we are suffering the wrath of God as Pakistan has been devastated by floods. Our founding fathers toiled day and night to give their future generations a place to call their own. If they were aware of ...

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My life as a pessimist

I don’t feel the anger I think I’m supposed to I hear about minorities being beat up and shot dead. But horrendous events don’t seem unusual or upsetting. Despite my insensitivity, I know they are wrong and deserve condemnation. The media has subconsciously and rightfully, led me to believe so. There is a notion that news analysis may contribute to the normalcy we desire in the aftermath of a tragic atrocity. It certainly doesn’t. If anything, the media, left or right, fights its own agenda.  In the process, it forgets its responsibility to report accurately. Seemingly, these recurring mishaps come ...

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Muslims must learn to speak the language of bullies

When I was growing up I believed that bullies had the right to inflict pain upon their victims. It was the cycle of life everyone must accept. To go against them was unnatural and futile. All I did in dealing with them was to come up with creative ways to avoid their wrath and earn their blessings and approval. It took me a while to come to terms and wake up to the reality of bullies and how to deal with them. Giving in to their demands does not make them go away. Instead, they merely demand and expect more. The ...

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