Stories about tolerance

Laal: Fighting fundamentalism with Sufi thought

Clad in black, the darwaish twirls and twirls on his bare feet, so enthralled, so totally immersed as if he was about to whirl himself to a parallel dimension. A child in rags stands nearby, eyeing him gleefully. His eyes shine: he wants to join in. A group of women gather around, clapping, singing, laughing, almost in a trance themselves. The shrine of their patron Saint lurks in the background: the perfect catharsis for the wretched, the refuge of the forsaken! Filmed not long before the bomb-blast at the Pakpattan shrine, Laal’s latest video “Fareeda” pays homage to the Sufi ...

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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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Time for zero tolerance

Whether you agree or disagree with writers such as George Fulton and Fasi Zaka is a personal judgement. However, to one degree or the other, we all agree that something has to change; hopefully for the better. With consistent spates of violence, it’s only by bringing about behavioural changes in the individual that we can hope to change our nation’s reality. We can no longer blame a corrupt and incompetent administration for its failure to protect its citizens. We have recognize its failure and deem it incompetent, otherwise, our individual continued silence and inaction draws us into the incompetency which ...

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Liberty, Equality, Fraternity

When I was at university, the one person I would have difficulty saying ‘hi’ to on campus was a junior who kept her face hidden by a thick black veil. As is the case with cursory greetings in the passing, so much is gauged with facial expressions that I could never make out her response. Then, in my last year, a close friend made the decision to start wearing the niqab and subsequently almost completely dropped off the social radar. I felt her decision was extreme and unnecessary and I felt a lot of hostility towards the piece of ...

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After hate comes hope

Today is the ninth anniversary of the Al Qaeda-sponsored attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon. The physical targets were emblematic references, chosen for their relevance to America’s core identity. We think of ourselves as an economic and military superpower, and to many Americans, the audacity and the sheer actuality of these attacks was inconceivable. But in the decade since, American identity has become confounded. This is particularly true for those of us who didn’t witness the Great Depression and the country’s subsequent recovery and were too young to have had our patriotism shaken by ...

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T2F: A pursuit of the heart

I first saw Sabeen Mahmud in 2000 at the TIE-Indus seminar, their first in Pakistan at the Sheraton, Karachi. She was bubbling with enthusiasm. Dressed in trousers with short cropped hair and holding a folder in her arms she had struck me as the “yuppie” breed, a fashionable term used to define young people who were entering the work force. Ten years later, she is the president of TIE and her heart’s endeavour,  The Second Floor cafe (T2F) is booming. She seats herself in the cafe’s tiny but cosy balcony for a very brief interview – a look into her heart. Sabeen’s inspiration was ...

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Comfortably inhuman

If you are a regular follower of the Pakistani blogosphere and mainstream media, chances are that you have come across these three stories – the fake degree scandal, Fox News declaring the countryPornistan and a heartbreaking rape incident of a nursing student. It is amazing how the stories that appear completely different are in one way correlated. Starting off with the Fox News story, which claims that Pakistan tops Google’s chart when it comes to ‘Sexy Searches’ (Though personally, I find nothing sexy about horse sex). Frankly, Fox News is infamous for its special love for Pakistan and the Muslim world ...

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Two faces of the hypocrisy coin

Although it’s a common human trait (one of the most abundant natural commodities, individually and collectively) I try to focus on the society that I live in, and while focusing on my society, I try to scan it from both perspectives, the so-called conservative and the so-called liberal perspective. The so-called conservative Pakistani society is dominated by conservative factors. The overwhelming majority of the urban middle class, especially in Punjab, highly reveres the religious clergy and looks upon it for guidance. But as the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the contractors of religion tend to degenerate into ...

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Tolerance for our inner terrorist

I might get my share of hate mail if this piece finds it way online and people read it. Actually, I wanted to claim responsibility for the attacks. I want to share some burden. I want to say that what happened at the Data Darbar was our own doing, we the people of Pakistan brought it upon us.   Living in a society which openly engages in discourse where those who have different religious beliefs will always be vulnerable to a death wish… where they would always be ‘waajib-ul-qatal’… what else could we possibly expect? I mean it is OK ...

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