Blasphemy, Theirs and Ours, By Adnan Farooq

These acts of confessional desecration have claimed 1152 lives and maimed another 2780 innocent people, mostly co-religionists. Not a single incident has provoked any mullah, Media Mujahid or any media house to cry blasphemy. (From Viewpoint Online)

In last ten years, beards have desecrated— in the literal and violent sense— 53 places considered holy by believers of different faith in Pakistan. They have bombed and raided mosques, churches, holy processions, seminaries, shrines, Imambargahs, missionary schools even hospitals. These acts of confessional desecration have claimed 1152 lives and maimed another 2780 innocent people, mostly co-religionists. Not a single incident has provoked any mullah, Media Mujahid or any media house to cry blasphemy. A committed Karachi-based activist and a fellow Viewpoint contributor, Muhammad Nafees, keeps compiling scary figures in his bid to wake a self-indulgent Pakistan up. The mainstream media almost never take note of his efforts. Undeterred, he keeps e-mailing his findings on e-mail lists. Look at the terrifying data, illustrating the breadth and depth of violent puritan blasphemies, he has dispatched:

Now imagine the ‘gravity’ of blasphemy committed by some of the ‘blasphemers’ who invited the puritan wrath and lost their lives:

Salman Taseer urges the need to reform a law that was promulgated and implemented by the ‘infidel’ Raj in 1876. He is killed On January 4 in broad day light by his own guard and the media are too afraid even to call the killer an assassin. He is a Mujahid, a Ghazi.

Tahir Iqbal, an air force mechanic, was found dead in his cell in 1992 in Lahore. He was charged with blasphemy when he converted from Islam to Christianity. His lawyer and a respected human rights activist, Naeem Shakir, blames that he was poisoned to death.

Yousuf Ali, a Pir , or faith healer (and patron of a self-styled Media Mujahid) was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death in August 2000. He was shot and killed in the Lahore Central Jail by a jail inmate on June 11, 2002. His real blasphemy was to run a property dispute with a notorious media tycoon.

In Faisalabad, in 1991 a Muslim student killed his Christian teacher Naimat Masih. The assassin-boy was reportedly instigated by a Muslim teacher, Allah Ditta, of the same school to kill Naimat Masih. Mr. Ditta wanted to capture school’s headmastership. But Mr Naimat was the more suitable candidate. This blasphemy-by-proxy, hindering Allah Ditta’s promotion was punished by death. The assassin was arrested and treated like a hero by police. They kissed and hugged him after arresting him.

In Gujranwala, in April 1994, one Hafiz Farooq Sajjad was lynched by an angry mob. Himself a Hafiz (somebody who has learnt Quran by heart), his blasphemy was to annoy his neighbour.

On April 9, 2008, in the Karachi Korangi Industrial Area, factory employees beat to death a Hindu co-worker, Jagdesh Kumar. He desecrated Islam by falling in love with a Muslim girl.

One can cite such examples from around the Muslim World by the way. As illustrious personalities as Noble-laureate Naguib Mahfouz, Nawal el Sidawai, and Hameed Akhtar Khan have been accused of blasphemy. Naguib Mahfouz was stabbed. Though he survived but remained paralysed for the last many years of his life. The fanatic who attacked him for writing a blasphemous novel, had not even read the novel.

Meantime, al-Qaida has bombed most holy shrines in Iraq besides killing thousands of Shia Muslims (whom al-Qaida considers infidels). The Saudi royalties wanted to raze down the birth place of Prophet Muhammad to build a parking lot. Did any mullah in Pakistan issued a fatwa or announced a head money on Saudi royals? Or did anybody at Nawa-i-Waqt, Sama TV, Geo et al. protest? They did not even report it.

Adnan Farooq did his Masters in Political Science and has worked with daily The Nation, Lahore and daily Jang, Lahore. He has also volunteered for Milieudefensie, Amsterdam. Friends of the earth, Europe, on environmental issues. He has been working with ON FILE, an Amsterdam-based publication run by journalists from all around the world. He studied Conflict Resolution at University of Amsterdam and is living in Paris. He is the editor of Viewpoint Online.