Stories about religious bigotry

I lost my cousin Sabika Sheikh to a mass shooting – gun violence is the new ‘terrorism’ and it’s very real

On March 14, 2019 I gathered with hundreds of students in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC. These students had walked out of their classes to join the National School Walkout demanding decisive action against the epidemic of gun violence in the US. A few hours later, a gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and shot dead at least 50 worshippers and injured 47 more while live-streaming the massacre. Pakistani exchange student and my cousin, Sabika Sheikh, was killed when a gunman entered her classroom and killed her and nine others at the Santa Fe School in ...

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Dear Aamir Khan, if India was an intolerant nation, you wouldn’t be where you are

Aamir Khan, one of the biggest movie stars that India has ever seen, has made a controversial statement about his wife, Kiran Rao, contemplating leaving India because she is concerned about incidents of “growing intolerance” that India has witnessed off late. He is quoted to have said that as a mother, Ms Rao fears for the safety of her child and has expressed her concerns to her husband. I believe in free speech and as citizens of India, both of them are entitled to their opinions and have the right to voice their apprehensions. But like many of my fellow countrymen, I disagree ...

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Why Christine Craig should not face disciplinary action for her anti-Muslim cartoon

Uncertainty breeds insular thinking and bigotry, a theme as old as time, and as true. Therefore, it is of no surprise to find, in this brave new world of globalisation, economic changes and environmental threats, a surge in discriminatory behaviour and values. This surge is not limited to the US, but it is seen as being more prominent, mainly because of America’s stance as a moral watchdog of the world. The land of the free, the land of opportunity, comes into the limelight every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, or a member of a public school board shares a ...

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You can be an atheist, but not on social media and not on your terms

Niloy Neel is the “fourth blogger” to be killed in Bangladesh in less than six months. It is now officially convenient to get by with assigning serial numbers to dead atheists, rather than making the effort of memorising their names. In 2013, radical religious groups drew up a list of 84 atheist bloggers, and submitted it to Bangladesh’s interior ministry demanding them to be unconditionally punished. The list was widely circulated, and so far, four of them have been murdered by extremist outfits. Those who live, do so in constant fear. The police laid bare its antipathy for them when Inspector General Shahidul Haque victim-blamed ...

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Meet Maryam, India’s Malala

Recently, a 12-year-old Indian Muslim girl named Maryam won a contest by answering all the questions asked in the Bhagwad Gita. This is the first time in India’s history that a Muslim girl has broken such a record. The news of the young Muslim girl went viral on social networking portals and sparked numerous debates on news channel. While some highlighted the politics behind it, others praised the young girl’s efforts. Maryam has set a fine example for people who divide masses using religious bigotry. India boasts of diversity, given the existence of various religions, but within its internal system, people are bifurcated on the ...

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Muslim is the new black

This past Monday I watched CNN’s Don Lemon question Sam Harris sympathetically, almost apologetically, about Ben Affleck’s defence of the Muslims of the world. Lemon asked Harris loaded questions, encouraging him to spew his ignorant half-true rhetoric about Islam. And this claim I do not make condescendingly, rather Harris’ knowledge appeared lacking because of its biased subjectivity rather than studied objectivity on the subject of Islam, his simplistic rambling sounded amateurish and very myopic. A discussion on religion within the same religion is fundamentally complicated, let alone in comparison to other religions, hence to make the dialogue intellectual and fair, the media must play a responsible role and have ...

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A Muslim’s open letter to Bill Maher

Dear Bill (I hope you don’t mind if I call you Bill because it’s the nicest word I can use to describe you at this point), We get it. You are an aggressive atheist, you abhor religions. For you, it is fashionable to be controversial. Being edgy is part of your job description. Congratulations, you are now so edgy that Bill O’Reilly of Fox News agrees with your views. ‘Bill the Liberal’ and ‘Bill the Conservative’ have now found common ground – Islamophobic bigotry. Let me ask you, Bill, are you back-paddling out of the muddy creek you created on your HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, last weekend with ...

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Undoing religious intolerance – undoing the second amendment

Religious clerics in Pakistan celebrate September 7th as a day of victory for Islam and Pakistan. Officially dubbed the “Khatme Nubuwwat Day” or “Finality of Prophethood Day,” many mosques come alive with celebrations this day, sweets are distributed and intense speeches are made in large religious gatherings.  Forty years ago this day, Pakistan passed the second amendment to its Constitution, forcibly declaring the Ahmadis non-Muslim. With the stroke of a pen, the Ahmadis had been snatched of their basic right to self-identity at the insistence of the very clerics who had opposed Jinnah in his rightful struggle. It was this day that Pakistan started drifting away from ...

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Do we need madrassas in Pakistan?

Pakistan has undoubtedly become a difficult place to live in with death penalties for the weakest of the weak while terrorists and thugs are acquitted and walk free.  It is quite true that those who believe in absurdities are the ones who commit atrocities. Blasphemy or what ‘they’ term blasphemous is one such absurd idea that provides the basis for committing atrocious acts in Pakistan. The death sentence given to a young Christian man, Sawan Masih, is a great example of such an atrocity committed in the name of ‘blasphemy’ under Pakistan’s rigorous blasphemy law. Sawan Masih, a cleaner, was arrested last year in March in ...

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Why should we remember Salmaan Taseer?

January 4 and 5 are two days that every PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) supporter will remember, but for two very different reasons. January 5 is the birthday of their enigmatic party founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. January 4, on the other hand, remains one of the darkest days in our history of political murders – a day that is, surprisingly, not spoken of enough. January 4, 2011, was the day when the serving Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was shot dead by his guard, because the guard was in disagreement with Taseer’s opposition to the blasphemy law. Salmaan Taseer’s assassin was a man ...

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