Salmaan Taseer’s Sixth Death Anniversary Sees His Son Accused of Blasphemy

Source: Guardian

Source: Guardian

It’s probably not even a surprise that following the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer by fanatic religious zealot Mumtaz Qadri, his son Shaan Taseer is accused of blasphemy. But for the sake of it, let’s just say who could imagine this happening.

Salmaan Taseer would have been so proud in the grave, or perhaps so pained to see this.

The Quaid-e-Azam would have been so proud in the grave, or perhaps so pained to see this.

Of all the Taseer children, it was perhaps only Shaan who has taken up activism for the rights of the minority religious communities in this fashion. He has remained in the forefront in protesting against religious extremism, including against the Laal Masjid, with Jibran Nasir and other similar activists. I recall seeing him speak first in the Aabpara protest against Laal Masjid clerics following the APS attack in Islamabad, which featured Jibran Nasir and Farzana Bari as well.

It’s one thing speaking out for the poor and the threatened, it’s a whole different thing altogether to become the victim yourself. Such is the brilliant dynamic of the politics of the blasphemy. No one is safe from the monster.

Source: Express Tribune

Amazingly enough, Shaan Taseer has been accused of blasphemy for just giving a video Christmas message to everyone in which he obviously criticized the blasphemy law as “inhuman.” Of course, he brought up Aasia Bibi missing God knows how many Christmas nights for being jailed. And of course, even any judge is not willing to hear Asia Bibi’s appeal case. Thank God someone is still talking about it.

However, this video was enough for him to attract a very serious and dangerous, legally protected death threat. Yes, that is what a blasphemy fatwa really means.

The Barelvi clerics of Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah affiliated with the Sunni Tehreek, the group that wreaked havoc in Islamabad on the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, issued the fatwa or legal opinion against him. The trouble with the fatwa sort of “legal opinion” is that most Muslims end up considering it a verdict. Anyone remember Salman Rushdie?

Source: Sunni Youth Parliament/Shaan Taseer facebook

Source: Sunni Youth Parliament/Shaan Taseer facebook

If you need an evidence of the insanity of the blasphemy allegations flung at just about anyone, then consider the case that the same clerics have issued a warning against PTI leader Imran Khan too. Now Imran Khan is a very popular leader, who has now turned a conservative populist nationalist, with his party allying with the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami. He knows very well that blasphemy is political suicide. Someone as careful as him is not even safe from the threat of blasphemy accusations, albeit he is powerful enough that they stop short of issuing a fatwa against him and settle on an open letter.

On the anniversary of the assassination of the late Governor Taseer, let us express our support and solidarity to Shaan Taseer who is fighting the fight for liberty at a cost.

We must realize that no one is safe as long as these medieval obscurantists are in power.

We must realize that no one would be free as long as these ignorant tyrants keep on shutting everyone up.

We must speak out.

That is the only way to pay our respects to the mission of the Taseers.

 

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The Hazara: A People Without Land and Security

The Hazara community is facing a double crisis in Pakistan. Not only are they being targeted for following the Shia Islam faith but also because of their ethnic distinction. At least that is the impression that I have been told to get and it pretty much seems like so too. In contrast, the choice of these words would sound absolutely devastating for someone living terror and death and bloodbath every single day. That’s just about how safe the Hazara community is in Pakistan.

Now I am not sure about that as I don’t know what I mean by Pakistan any more. Do I even have to add Baluchistan and Gilgit-Baltistan in it anymore because I am not even confident if those are really parts of Pakistan anymore, or what the term Pakistan means anymore. No such thing as government exists in those places, it seems. The community is currently suffering probably its worst genocide in the history of Pakistan. There are just under a million people of the community in Pakistan and most of them are settled in Baluchistan. What is even more painful is that a lot of the Hazaras have roots in Afghanistan and a lot of them moved to Pakistan in hope for a better life and a better future as war pillaged Afghanistan for decades.

Given the kind of claims Pakistanis make of their devotion to the Muslim brotherhood and the kind of protection they can offer to non-Muslim religious minorities, let alone adherents of their own faith, is this the kind of treatment we are offering them? Of course, many of the faithful don’t spare the non-Muslims at all anyway, but why these people, given their Muslim faith? Oh wait, they don’t consider them a part of their own community of the faithful. While we should be celebrating diversity, is this the way we respond to it? With such intolerance. If you don’t like diversity, you are really missing out on the beauty of life. Believe me.

There have been many posts that I have written which have made me ashamed to be a Pakistani but probably none equals the gravity of this particular one. I just met a friend from the Hazara community at the Pul-e-Jawan event and I could hardly look him in the eye out of the embarrassment that the ignorant theocratic, fascist and racist values prevalent in all provinces and areas of the Pakistan make you go through. For most parts, the Hazara people are being targeted because an overwhelming majority of the community adheres to the Shia sect of Islam.

Many of the overzealous segments in the Pakistani Sunni society consider them non-Muslims and call for murdering them openly, which goes to show everyday as members from the Shia community are regularly targeted, the latest example being journalist Murtaza Razvi in Karachi, who by the way has nothing to do with the Hazara community. He could even have been targeted for simply being a journalist, another tragedy of the country. Not saying that the Shia don’t have militant elements too, but not as much as the other majority sects, and where’s the responsibility? The government turning a blind eye like always.

The good thing is that the Hazara community is raising their voices in peaceful protest against the absolutely unacceptable and intolerable genocide for just being different as far as race and faith are concerned. The community is primarily targeted in areas where the hold of the Pakistani law is supposedly weak, but that is no excuse not only because things are not any better in other areas of the country where it supposedly is applied with full force and also because of the disastrous theological and cultural norms that have been accepted and openly nurtured by the strong and the powerful elite of the country, resulting in such disastrous results.

The Hazara Protest in Islamabad (Source: Hazara News Pakistan)

The Hazara community held a protest in front of the Islamabad Press Club on April 14, 2012, demonstrating how peacefully they are reacting against the most violent and unacceptable campaign of their organized genocide. Appreciation for Marvi Sirmed, Farzana Bari and Dr. Asim Sajjad for joining the protest in solidarity as reported by the Hazara News Pakistan blog. Their voices and endorsements are much stronger of course. The protesters from the Hazara community in Baluchistan have talked to the Governor of the province as well, but all they got were assurances that are not backed by any guarantees of course. And they are not even too politically active and aggressive, so please do not confuse them for the campaign demanding the Hazara province in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province or the former NWFP.

The Hazara Protest in Islamabad (Source: Hazara News Pakistan)

In the end, I would like to apologize to my Hazara friends for not being able to make it to the Islamabad protest but they will always find my voice for their support whenever they require it. I am in part guilty of what is happening to them because I and many more like me are simply not doing enough in a multi-fragmented society that has become a killing machine over time, any foreign hand or not, as many of us conveniently like to believe.

Yet again I am very ashamed to be a Pakistani while I say that.