What has terrorised this country more than anything is a lethal excuse used against weak and powerless people mostly from minority groups. Blasphemy is a word on everyone’s lips and that has given sleepless nights to all Christians, Ahmadis and now Muslims too. The assassination of Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab, has exposed the fragile edifice of this society truly based on misuse of religion. The response of people to Salman’s killer has blown the minds who hoped for some maturity from the people of this country. But his is the country where I have seen heroes becoming villains and villains becoming heroes.
Salman’s killing has strengthened the evil forces which have been misusing religion to commit crimes, seek authority and fulfill their vicious plans. Unfortunately, the current government run by PPP–supposed to be a liberal party– has scummed to the blackmailing done in the name of religion also by the religious political parties. The same party has isolated its key member, Salman, and let him killed by a fanatic. The same fanatic has deepened the divide in the society and encouraged others to play with the same excuse to gain some fame.
The story of this Cristian woman (read below) is a proof that Pakistan was never meant for non Muslims. The white portion in the flag was what we buried with the founder of this country who thought of a secular state.
These fanatics are exploiting blasphemy and taking the law in their hands. But we never hear of any suo moto action by our Chief Justice who take it almost every day on every other issue. Here we find him silent. When the writ of the government is challenged by these people then the government hides behind the religion. When they humiliate women in front of the whole world, the police like to be among the audience. The mob mentality is what has scared the people who intend to help those being victimised.
Now where do we stand? Is this a country only for Muslims and among Muslims only those who follow a certain type of Islam which is unknown to us? Is any religion bigger than humanity and a human life? Who has given them this right to hijack Islam? Who has allowed them to use violence in the name of Prophet (pbuh)? Who has made them protectors of Islam? NOT us. And we will not. All those who accuse others of blasphemy without any proof are the ones who commit blasphemy. Inciting to violence is a crime and it remains a crime even if they do it under the pretext of blasphemy.
We need to be united against these evil forces ready to destroy our identity as Pakistanis and we must stop them from hijacking our religion for their vested interests.
Express Tribune, January 15th
LAHORE: Two Christian women were beaten and publically humiliated by an angry mob over apparently frivolous blasphemy allegations and they and their family are now in hiding for fear of being killed, The Express Tribune has learnt.
“None of our relatives is ready to let us stay with them. They fear the wrath of the extremists, particularly after the assassination of Salmaan Taseer,” a male member of the family said over the phone from an undisclosed location.
The family and a non-governmental organisation that is helping them asked that their identities not be revealed, lest it put them in further danger. The names mentioned here are fictitious.
According to the family, the allegations stem from a dispute between Amina, a Muslim, and her sister-in-law Zahira, a Christian, in an East Lahore locality. The two got into an argument on Tuesday night and though it appeared to have been settled, on Wednesday morning, after her husband Zahid had gone to work, Amina walked out onto the street and started shouting that Zahira had abused the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
A short while later, a group of men led by Muhammad Sameer, a member of a religious organisation keen on raising its sectarian profile, forced their way into the house and started slapping Zahira, said another of her brothers, Sohail. “Other men and women from the neighbourhood started gathering at the house too and they beat up my sister and mother. They were the only people in the house,” he said.
“We tried our best to get her to confess her crime,” Sameer told The Express Tribune. As a member of the religious organisation, he said he could not tolerate any derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Sameer added that he was very proud of his wife’s performance during the mob beating. “She beat Zahira more than anyone else. Her hand is so swollen that she hasn’t been able to make rotis since the day of the incident. I’ve been getting my meals from a restaurant,” he said.
Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the self-confessed assassin of Salmaan Taseer, is a member of the same group as Sameer. The group also runs a twenty-four hour cable TV channel.
Khadim Hazoor, Sameer’s son-in-law and another participant in the beating, said that the women’s faces were blackened and they were made to wear necklaces of shoes and paraded around the locality on donkeys to humiliate them. He said the women denied blaspheming and repeatedly touched their feet seeking mercy.
He said the people of the locality would not allow Zahid or his family to return to their house, which he lives next door to. He claimed that the fight between Zahira and Amina the night before the incident revolved around the upbringing of Zahid and Amina’s 18-month-old daughter. Amina had wanted to raise her daughter as a Muslim, but Zahira wanted her niece to be raised as a Christian, he said.
Hazoor accused Zahid of “cheating Islam” by pretending to convert from Christianity to Islam so he could marry the Muslim girl. “We will not let them live in this house. He has not only cheated Amina but also Islam,” he said.
Zameer Khan, an NGO worker, helped the family flee the locality after they were attacked. “Apparently there was no blasphemy, just an argument between two women,” he said.
He said after hearing of the incident, he had reached the scene to find the women being attacked. He said he had asked the mob if anyone had heard Zahira utter any blasphemous remarks, to which they all replied in the negative. He said he persuaded them to let the women go while he investigated the matter. He then helped relocate the family temporarily. He said he had also convinced the mob not to involve the police.