What is Killing Our Teachers

Source: TRT World

When we start losing our teachers so casually and commonly to the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism, it is time to do some serious soul searching as a nation. Even the most religiously and socially conservative of our society can agree that the unhinged murder of our educated intellectuals is wrong. Clearly, there are conditions to that position, as we have seen with the unending killings of Shia and Ahmedi intellectuals and educated professionals over the years. It is the same rationale that is behind the shocking killing of a Bahawalpur Associate Professor Khalid Hameed, who was stabbed to death by his own student.

The event occurred in the public institution called Sadiq Egerton College in Bahawalpur, a more religious conservative South Punjab district than usual. The video interview of the student Khateeb Hussain, a BS Student, who was taken into custody at the site of crime is chilling and gives a clear insight into the sort of mindset that enables students to act with such impunity. Viewer discretion is advised.

The student shows no remorse because according to him, the English literature Professor used to speak ill of Islam. That gave him enough reason to commit the crime but another reason that escalated the situation was the professor organizing a welcome party which was a mixed gender event. Pakistan is a society with significant gender segregation in public spaces, which is sanctioned more by religion than any social norms.

We also recall the time when Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) or the student wing of the Islamist Deobandi Jamaat-e-Islami held protest rallies in Quaid-e-Azam University against secular professor Pervez Hoodbhoy. It is a relief that he had been spared because the mindset that has been as caustic in those days as it has been today. However, the difference has been the public encouragement to vigilantism by the Tehreek Labaik Pakistan ever since the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer by Mumtaz Qadri. Furthermore, the possible debate on whether a Barelvi is more likely to take such action is also interesting. This post could be Exhibit A for the arguments for a Barelvi likelihood to commit a righteous kill.

Like always, there were posts like this on the social media that celebrated this great feat of bravery. The post above celebrates the murderer as well as his mother who gave birth to such a lionheart “Ghazi,” the Islamic term for surviving victor. There is a slight nod to Khadim Hussain Rizvi in the post as well. The post also features the trademark Barelvi slogan “Gustaakh-e-Rasool ki saza, sar tan se juda” or beheading is the only punishment for a blasphemer. It is not shocking that tragedies like these occur when such venomous theological venom goes unchecked.

One of my friends Shujaat Hussain, also an English literature Professor, was immigrating to a Western country. He must have his own reasons but in general, I used to feel sorry for the loss of the country for losing such brilliant, free-thinking minds. But when I see such fundamentalism plague our educational institutions, it is probably better for intellectual teachers like him to leave this society to its own devices.

Perhaps the Bahawalpur teacher should have immigrated to a foreign country too.

Advertisements

The Religion of Brutal Murderers

Source: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters/CFR

Well, let’s not restrain and offer respites when something so atrocious occurs in the name of faith and religious fervor that it defies all standards of cruelty, barbarism and inhumanity. Islam has proudly maintained a very consistent record in this regard, at least in the recent years, along with other great faiths of the world, particularly at the heart of its very own Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A state where the most fervent and the truest of Muslims in the whole wide world live.

Fervent Muslims are pretty interesting as far as their keenness in inquiring about others’ faith is concerned. Especially when it concerns their own faith and are yet said to believe in the scripture with the “to each his own” kind of verse, as far as faith is concerned. However, they still seem very much concerned about what people around them seem to believe or not believe in, particularly when it has anything remotely to do with their faith. Poor Ahmedis. They should have chosen connection with some other faith.

An essential part of the Islamic faith, with some schools more enthusiastic about it than others, is to scan their environment for blasphemies and to eliminate the guilty party or at least start babbling about it. While the very act can argued to be potentially intellectual and beneficial from an evolutionary viewpoint, it nevertheless contradicts the high claims of the adherents of this faith of its transcendental code of ethics and humanity, and probably of those who have falsely popularized the misnomer of “Religion of Peace”.

Speaking of that, it is important to clarify here that calling Islam the “Religion of Peace” on the basis of the fact that the Arabic word “Islam” means “Peace” is wrong. It is so because in the context of the religion, the word “Islam” means “Submission”, which could also extend into the functional meaning of oppression. But that’s detail. So why are we talking about the “Religion of Peace” again?

It seems that the Muslims in Pakistan, which apparently are the truest in the world, have no better pastime, apart from oppressing women in the most creative ways, than scanning their immediate and not-so-immediate environment for blasphemies. Another such event occurred in the Chanighot part of the great city of the Princely State of Bahawalpur. A wild, angry and extremely pious mob set a man on fire on a public square on the charges that the person had desecrated the Holy Koran.

Well, there is no point recreating the scene, as you can read the story at this link yourself. Apparently, the pious were not happy, that the man, a malang, a Sufi ascetic holy man who is usually not in control of his senses due to his perpetually intoxicated state of mind, was arrested by the police on the charge of blasphemy. The clerics of the area made inflammatory speeches that enough justice was not done, which inspired the locals to set the police station on fire, as well as the culprit, who was burned alive in a public square, as the police stood there, witnessing the historic and spectacular punishment.

Undoubtedly the punishment for the apparently mentally challenged person, who most probably even would not be aware of what the Koran actually was anymore, could not be more appropriate and fitting. After all, how can anyone dare not respect the truest of all the scriptures. Especially when it is believed by the truest of all the Muslims. The punishment of such a blasphemer should be worse than death. They should be tortured to death, burned at stake.

While you could argue that the miscreants in this case do not represent the vast majority of Muslims, it is better that you save yourself the trouble. I won’t stereotype here but I have pretty systematically and personally found even the most educated of Muslims acting in the same spirit and principle as the violent and blood-thristy mob in Bahawalpur more or less did, whenever it comes to blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad or the desecration of the Koran. Even though there is no body to account for the way Muslims sometimes treat the Koran themselves, but let’s not enter the realm of raising doubts about the doubtless faithfuls.

The greatest evidence of that came right after the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer in the January of 2011, when right winger extremists, particularly Barelvi Sunnis, who claim to be a peaceful sect, and even lawyers, the defenders of the bigoted constitution of Pakistan, were dancing in jubilation and showering praises and rose petals on the criminal murder Malik Mumtaz Qadri, which they proudly deem the “Ghazi” or the “surviving hero”. This is evidence enough of what this religion has become in Pakistan, if it ever was not like this once.

However, apologists would say that the act of this tiny mob in Bahawalpur or that of a fanatically fervent security guard should not be blamed on the entire Muslim community and the great faith of Islam. While that is true that the entire community must not be blamed for these “remote” acts, but there is no doubt about the fact that the community is not fulfilling its duties to discourage such events, which actually occur on regular basis. Thankfully, we always conveniently forget cases like Aasia Bibi. What is worse, such brutalities and discriminating murder have been institutionalized by the Pakistani state in the blasphemy law.

This is where these actions exit the domain of mobs and individuals and enter the supervision of the mosque, the state, the law and the clerics and the religion of Islam itself. This is where all the possible defense of the faith of Islam is destroyed in my books. Certainly such a faith deserves no respect or immunity from criticism at all. Also saying that there is nothing in the Koran that even alludes to the punishment for blasphemy is a meaningless argument because the Hadith-abiding Sunnis of Pakistan, who believe in murdering for blasphemy as an article of faith, don’t give any weight to it.

However, if there is any trace of humanity left in this gang of brutal and heartless murderers, then they should at least condemn the most painful torture and the most horrific murder of a man who was not even in his senses or for a crime that he probably didn’t even commit, or even if he did, did not commit it consciously. I think the elated founders of the religion or of the belief that death should be the penalty for blasphemy themselves might have exercised caution in this case, if I may wishfully assume that.

A lot of people in the West criticizing Islam are accused of “Islamophobia”, and while the prejudice against Muslims do exist, there is no doubt that there is a lot of reasonable criticism on Islam which Muslims conveniently dodge in the name of religious freedom. Unfortunately, there are quite a few parts of their faith which leave the realm of religious freedom and fall under the definition of crime and human rights violation. That is where religious freedom ends, sadly for them.

Therefore, it is the duty of progressive, educated and pragmatic Muslims to take a stand and start criticizing Islam in order to make the necessary and required improvements that it needs. It is so because any non-Muslim will be conveniently labelled an Islamophobe, just like anyone criticizing Israeli atrocities is conveniently labelled an Antisemitic. Therefore, people who really want the world to respect Islam and count it as a peaceful and non-violent religion, must have to take the initiative to bringing about the necessary changes.

I am usually not too eager to quote secular Pakistani journalist Nadeem F. Paracha but he wrote a really pinching piece on this event and the growing extremism of terrorist proportions in Pakistan. It’s a real reality check. Something that every Pakistani child should try reading to free themselves of the inhumane faith that they are conditioned to believe in.

Or the critics of Islam would keep on saying from time to time, again and again, as I read somewhere in an online discussion.

The Religion of Peace Strikes Again.

A Message to the Punjab Police et al

Everyday I find a new story of violence in the news and find myself amazed at how hard-hearted people are. Another achievement of the Punjab Police was reported on August 21, 2010 when they baton-charged protesting female student doctors of the Quaid-e-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur. The  report also talks about the cops taking off their head-scarves, which is clearly seen as an act of humiliation and disrespect. I just thank god they didn’t rape and murder them, or torture them to death, like they did to the two brothers in Sialkot, because they have proved that they are fully capable of doing so.

Courtesy: The Nation

It seems to me that the selection criterion of the Punjab Police is such that the most brutal, cruel and cold-hearted people, who are completely indifferent to human suffering and to inflicting physical pain on another, are selected among the masses to fill up their positions.  It seems to me that these cops are frustrated sadists, who actually love their job and enjoy beating people with their dreaded batons. They really have seemed to enjoy themselves on this occasion, beating women with the full force of their arm and dishonoring them in public. Would have been satisfying right?

Doctors and Medical Students have condemned the Bahawalpur Medical College incident and have demanded the registration of an FIR against the Principal of the College Dr. Ejaz Shah, who summoned the police in the first place to curb the protesters, and against the local DPO Babar Bakht, who according to them, had ordered the baton-charge. I hope the Chief Minister Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif looks into the matter in due time.

I have not the slightest of ideas how these brutal criminals-in-disguise are trained, but I am sure the way they act do not speak well of it. And this has just not been the only incident. The reason this one caught my eye was that these cops were so brutal that they did not refrain from injuring young women. How very shameful! If the state and law-enforcing institutions resort to behavior like this, what to expect from the anarchists and the criminals?

Here, I must say, that this criticism is not aimed at the Punjab Police alone, but the Police operating in the entire country. I know that law enforcement authorities of other countries do not act in a different way, as many have witnessed in the case of the Indian law enforcement authorities in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, in the wake of recent protests there. But I will remain focused on the Pakistani police, although anyone can consider the message I am trying to convey in this post.

This is not the first time at all that such reports of violence has been reported by the police. In fact, only recently six women were injured in a police-baton charge in Sukkur, which was meant to control the flood victims while aid was being distributed among them, on the occasion of the visit of Mr. Nawaz Sharif to a relief camp there. Now if you almost beat them to death, what is the point in offering aid to them in the first place? I am aware that the crowd can really become a nuisance at times, but the police must not forget that the baton-charge is meant to bring things into order, not to murder or injure people. And they should watch who they are hitting too: Women, for crying out loud!

The Police must understand that they are public servants after all and that they should be thinking twice before they mean to harm innocent citizens. It is true that the nature of their jobs demands them to be tough on people in general, but this does not mean that they are offered carte blanche to resort to any violent act against anyone they like. It is due to the same cruel and violent tendencies, which make them abuse their authority and to commit acts as hideous and shameful as the brutal murder of the Butt brothers in public, which occurred in Sialkot a week ago.

They must understand that they are trusted with the responsibilities of ensuring the security of the people and the rule of law and order. If they will start harming people without any discrimination between a common citizen, not just a woman or a child but anyone, and someone who is clearly a miscreant, an aggressor and a criminal, then they will cease to be the guardians of the law and order, and will become criminals themselves.

They should stop taking pleasure in violence as well. However, I do not criticize them just for the sake of it. I know there are many honest and dutiful police officers and constables out there, who recognize their responsibilities, care for the public and perform their jobs with valor, dedication and courage. However, incidents such as the Bahawalpur Medical College baton-charge and the Sialkot torture and murder case certainly show that there is something terribly wrong with some of the personnel in the police force.

I just hope those who are responsible will look into the matter and will start educating the police against violence and will make them realize that their responsibility is to protect the general public and their security, not to beat them to death and resort to violence on innocent people themselves.