Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pakistan: how deep a nation can sink

More than 20,000 people rallied in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi on Sunday, police said, against proposed amendment to blasphemy laws that were recently used to sentence a Christian woman to death.

The protest follows Tuesday's assassination of the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, by one of his bodyguards, after the politician sought to reform the law that gives the death penalty for 'defamation' of the 'prophet' Mohammad.
Pakistan's most high-profile political killing in three years has bitterly divided the country, horrifying moderates but winning praise from religious scholars and lawyers who festooned the presumed killer in garlands.

Two senior police officers in Karachi said more than 20,000 protesters had joined the rally and more were arriving, while senior police official Irshad Sehar told AFP that more than 30,000 people were taking part.
Banners at the event included some supporting Taseer's presumed killer, police commando Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, who has been praised by religious conservatives for shooting his boss outside an Islamabad coffee shop.
"Mumtaz Qadri is not a murderer, he is a hero," said one banner in the national Urdu language.
"We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the dignity of the Prophet Mohammad," read another.

Activists at the rally, which has been organised by conservative religious groups, called for "Jihad" or holy war.
The protest forced the closure of the city's main road and all markets in the teeming southern metropolis.
Controversy over the law flared when former information minister Sherry Rehman tabled a private member's bill in November, calling to end the death penalty for blasphemy, after a Christian mother-of-five was sentenced to hang.
Rights activists also say the law encourages Islamist extremism in a nation already beseiged by Taliban attacks.
Politicians and conservative clerics have been at loggerheads over whether President Asif Ali Zardari should pardon Asia Bibi, the Christian mother who was sentenced to death under the blasphemy law.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but Bibi's case has exposed the deep faultlines in the conservative country
Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after Muslim women labourers refused to drink from a bowl of water she was asked to fetch while out working in the fields.
Days later, the women complained that she made derogatory remarks about the 'prophet' Mohammed. Bibi was set upon by a mob, arrested by police and sentenced on November 8.
Most of those convicted of blasphemy in Pakistan have their sentences overturned or commuted on appeal through the courts. But ALL 32 people were were convicted are killed by mobs...

Rights activists and pressure groups say it is the first time that a woman had been sentenced to hang in Pakistan for blasphemy.
Only around three percent of Pakistan's population of 167 million are estimated to be non-Muslim.
But when the mobs rules a country, civilization ends...


Francis Hunt said...

And I continue to ask: Where, oh where are the millions of moderate Muslims, who claim not to be represented (and that their religion is misrepresented) by extremists? Why are we not seeing hundreds of thousands of "ordinary" Muslims on the streets of Ankara, Jakarta, Cairo, Damascus, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, protesting at the hijacking of Islam by ignorant fundamentalist troglodytes?

At this moment in history, the actions of fundamentalist Islamicists have brought the religion of Islam before the world court of moral judgement. In such a context, many will understandably identify silence with approval and complicity.

Claude said...

:))Hans - Now I'm waiting for a Moderate (among your many readers) to tell me I'm wrong.

Claude said...

It seems that my first comment didn't register. Should I post it again?

Unknown said...

@claude, I got the notification with your comment...weird that it doesnt popup here...
post it again..))
I will give a reaction tomorrow..))

Unknown said...

Weird, I got 3 times a notification Claude that you posted a comment but nothing happened here????
Maybe Gauri can take a look. I cannot find anything weird in the settings??????

Francis Hunt said...

Pagan Sphinx recently suggested that there may be a more general problem with the full-page posting setting and that one might possibly switch to the "pop-up" setting to solve it.

I tried to post Claude's comment - of which I had received e-mail notification - through copy and paste and that post also disappeared. Or there's a combination of words in the post which is automatically sending it to the spam filter? It's very strange.

Francis Hunt said...

Or it's the Islamic mafia :-)

Osman Gürbüz said...

That would've been my suggestion. Censored by TR gov???

Claude said...

Ah! well..So much wisdom and knowledge gone into the ethereal world. Thank you, all, for trying to help. Look at it this way, dear Hans, you're spared the thousand comments which would have rushed to answer mine. :))))))

Claude said...

Hans :), My son is (gently) laughing at what happened. He's been (gently) telling me for a while that I get carried away in my comments. He's not surprised that the Internet found a way to silence me. From now on, all I'll ever say is, "You're right, Hans!"

Take care. All the best to you and wife.))

Anonymous said...

The real problem – the one we should really be worried about – is that a prominent politician can be murdered for opposing the Blasphemy Law and upholding the rights of a Christian woman who has been victimized by this law – and the large majority of Barelvis in Pakistan are jubilant that he is dead.
Why is this a problem for the UK? Because most of the Pakistani immigrants are also of Barelvi background and it is very likely see the Blasphemy Law as benign and the murder of Taseer as acceptable.