Stories about secularism

Ironically, the credit for banning triple talaq in India goes to BJP and Narendra Modi, not Congress

The recent decision regarding triple talaq by the Supreme Court (SC) of India has elated many liberal intelligentsias. I also believe that it is a step in the right direction and should be applauded by all those who want better treatment for Muslim women in India. I have written about it earlier as well, that one of the major problems ailing the Muslim societies is the gender imbalance due to the on-going rampant religious orthodoxy. From a political perspective, what is really interesting is that apparently, the party which has actually championed the issue in recent times is not the left-leaning ...

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Is Turkey transforming into a fundamentalist religious state?

Turkey has given its verdict in the referendum paving the way for a powerful Tayyip Erdogan presidency. Although the margin of victory is close and is contested by the opposition, but it does not really matter. Erdogan has gotten what he wanted. If one has to draw an analogy with Pakistani politicians of the past and present, it would be apt to say that Erdogan is on his way towards becoming what Ziaul Haq had been in the 1980s, what Nawaz Sharif wanted to be in the late 1990s, and what Imran Khan perhaps wants to be in the future – an autocratic religious head of the state. In Turkey’s ...

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It is pretty clear that neither Ali Muhammad Khan nor PTI know why Pakistan was created

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness a panel discussion where the firebrand conservative MNA from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Ali Muhammad Khan, delivered his, and for that matter his party’s, “vision” for Pakistan. According to him, Pakistan should be a theocratic state and seculars should either mend their ways or leave Pakistan. Moreover, he also brought in the havoc of the Partition riots, arguing that all the sacrifices were actually for the creation of an Islamic country.  PTI's MNA @Ali_MuhammadPTI calls secular people a threat to Pakistan and asks them to mend their ways or leave the country pic.twitter.com/R2tezc7QoV — Reema Omer (@reema_omer) ...

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Why Turkey’s referendum is important

Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries of the world. Besides physical beauty of its architectural heritage and breath-taking landscapes, Turkey also captures the imagination because it is a crossroad of Asia and Europe, and consequently a lovely mix between tradition and modernisation. But what makes Turkey truly fascinating for me is that since the 1920s, it has been a secular as well as a moderate Muslim majority country. Whenever someone wants to prove that a Muslim country can be secular and moderate, they use Turkey as their example.  Turkey was cited by Reza Aslan as an example to counter ...

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Will Pakistan ever function as a secular state?

In Pakistan and, in fact, most of the Islamic world, the very concept of secularism is completely misunderstood. Somehow the concept has been thoroughly confused and amalgamated with atheism. An overwhelming majority of politicians, and even intellectuals, often try to defend themselves when “accused” of being secular, particularly on mainstream online media and Urdu print media. To declare oneself as a secular is considered equivalent to being considered an atheist in the public imagination. The entire atmosphere is riddled with severe misconceptions about secularism. Due to fear of being branded an “atheist” and anti-Islamic, the word secular, in both letter and ...

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Five reasons why socialism is not discussed in Pakistan

After years of abandonment following the demise of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall, socialism is generating academic and political interest again. The financial crash of 2007-08 only added fuel to the fire, as critics of capitalism pointed towards the inherent tendency of the system to collapse. The left-wing tilt of Latin America, since the start of the century, along with the victory of Syriza in Greece in the not too distant past, has only encouraged further debate on the merits of socialist thought. Interest in socialism and the Marxist worldview has a long history in Pakistani politics. While it can safely be argued that ...

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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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We need to stop exaggerating minority victimhood in India and Pakistan

I had written in an article on this very forum some time back that many Indians and Pakistanis validate their deep-rooted nationalist prejudices by exaggerating the problems of the religious minorities on the other side of the border. As an Indian, I have written articles informing my fellow countrymen that Pakistan has had a Christian Chief Justice, Justice Cornelius, and he remains one of their most respected judges till date, and the tiny Zoroastrian community in Pakistan, like its Indian counterpart, has produced many remarkable personalities, including prominent judges. These include Justice Dorab Patel, who has also served as chief justice, and Justice Rustam S Sidhwa who ...

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Is a secular Pakistan the answer to our problems?

And now, since they have nothing better to do, the powers that be have fired another tester round in the sky out of the lame notion of keeping themselves busy in the business. A 17-judges bench headed by chief justice of Pakistan, Justice Nasirul Mulk, contemplated vigorously on Monday as to how Pakistan can be declared a secular state. Some suggested getting it done through the constituent assembly, while others advised to hold a referendum. Going with the definition of secularism, it is defined as, “The separation of government institutions and the persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions ...

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Islam would never allow Farkhunda to be lynched

I sat comfortably on a sofa browsing through Facebook; the ambiance was comfortable as was my state of mind. And then flashed an image of Farkhunda – a video clip recorded of the beating and the burning. I clicked on it, I should not have, but I did, I did, I did. And the realisation that Farkhunda must have hurt, she must have felt agonising pain, she must have screamed, she must have shouted, she must have cried ‘help’, she must have cried ‘murder’, she must have been shocked, she must have been scared, she must have been frightened, she must have known ...

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