Stories about religious extremism

If religious parties were not elected into power, is the Pakistani voter thus “moderate”?

The 2018 Elections are over, giving a healthy but controversial victory to Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). These elections were, according to many independent correspondents, one of the “dirtiest” in living memory, mainly due to the tactics employed by mainstream parties and the extreme political polarisation in the electorate. Besides other things, one crucial aspect that truly distinguished these elections from previous ones was the intense whipping up of religious sensitivities – like bringing up the Finality of Prophethood (pbuh) – by several parties. Although this issue had been raised earlier as well, it took centre stage during the elections. Due ...

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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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Instead of trying to earn cheap gains, Careem should focus on what powered their core business – safety

There is no place in the world where women can feel as safe or have the same privileges as men. But it is especially hard in Pakistan where discrimination is an endemic, thanks to the entitled mind-set of the typical Pakistani male. Abuse ranges from violence to sexual harassment, or worse, and no classes, locations or environments are completely safe from this. Some time ago, after someone close to me faced repeated harassment at the workplace through texts and emails, which included hundreds of threats of sexual violence, I was inspired to write an article investigating how deep the problem is in Pakistani work culture. The results were shocking. You’d ...

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How the two-faceted mindset of moderate Muslims ends up aiding militancy and terrorism

In recent years, there have been growing concerns that Islam’s major problem, as well as the world’s, is Islamic radicalisation, since Islam is one of the major and fastest growing religions of the world. These concerns are being voiced in various countries and have yielded various reactions ranging from apologetic defence (whereby some of the western liberals interpret it as a ‘reaction’ to the US hegemony) to outright xenophobia. Radicalisation is a major problem and there is no question about its lethal potential to inflict harm in the form of religious extremism and terrorism. However, though present, it is not as widespread in the Islamic world as is ...

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Naureen Laghari, Pakistan’s very own IS bride

In the aftermath of Mashal Khan’s lynching, it is vital that we re-examine some of our assumptions about religious extremism in our society. We can no longer assume that extremism and violence are the territory of the uneducated or the lower classes. The men who beat Khan to death were educated; university employees, students and even a political figure or two were included in the First Information Reports (FIRs). Another case has surfaced that challenges our assumptions even more – that of a young medical student called Naureen Laghari. Laghari, who was studying to become a doctor at Liaquat Medical University in Hyderabad, Sindh, had been reported ...

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An open letter to Benazir Bhutto

Bibi, It has been almost a decade since you met your untimely demise on December 27, 2007. It has been almost a decade since the day the country lost one of its greatest leaders. The state that Pakistan finds itself in today may not surprise you. Unlike the others, you had the foresight to see the storm we were heading towards when you spoke of secular values. The state your party finds itself in today, however, will crush you. Your party has always represented the best of Pakistan. From your iconic father, to people of unparalleled substance, brilliance and integrity like Meraj Muhammad Khan, Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Sherry Rehman and Malik ...

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The Noorani attack proves Pakistan will continue being religiously intolerant

A few days ago, a friend of mine (who is a renowned activist) jokingly made a comment on Facebook that no suicide bomber would ever consider detonating in Lasbela, Balochistan because it’s unbelievably hot there; no bomber is mad enough to kill himself in such scorching heat. Alas, he was proven wrong. On Saturday, a young suicide bomber targeted a Sufi shrine near Lasbela, killing around 60 people and injuring more than a 100. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, and right now, I wish – as insensitive as that joke was – that my friend had been right. His words ...

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On Twitter, Nazis have a follower count greater than ISIS

Regardless of how much the Muslim community screams blue murder that Islam is not the sole proprietor of religious extremism and terrorism, it takes the research of a non-Muslim terrorism analyst to convince the world. The latest study by J M Berger of George Washington University reveals that the singularly focused spotlight of social media sites upon Islamic extremist groups has only allowed thousands of white nationalist and pro-Nazi groups to mushroom unchecked right beneath their noses. Where sites like Twitter and Facebook continue to act with supreme diligence in sweeping their platforms clean of Islamic extremist elements, they remain dreadfully perfunctory ...

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Why conditional state funding of madrassas can be a sound policy move

A heated debate has ensued over the allocation of PKR 300 million to Darul Uloom Haqqania by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government in the 2016-17 budget announced recently. The critics view this as a reward for a seminary that is notorious for its regressive world view and alleged support for violent extremism that earned it the title of ‘University of Jihad’ from Washington Post. Yet, there are plenty of reasons why conditional funding of madrassas, if pursued with caution, can be a prudent policy move by the provincial government to tackle religious extremism.   It is important to remember here that ...

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Women, the stuff maulvi nightmares are made of

Pakistanis are extremely resourceful people. We work with what we get. When life gave us the proverbial lemons in the guise of terrorism and religious extremism, we rose to the occasion by coining the term ‘liberal extremists’ to protect our social fabric from the menace of tolerance, human rights, and other Jewish conspiracies. The ‘liberal extremist’ is the right-wing’s brilliant attempt at tapping into the powerful global constituency against violence and extremism in a post 9/11 world. Someone recently said that ‘when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression’. In the case of Pakistan, when you have political ...

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