Never before has a day seen such a bipolar response. A minority of Pakistan (and we’re not talking religious minority here, because we think of ourselves as humans first) observe the occasion with great sadness and hopelessness for the future; and the majority of the Zia republic of Pakistan celebrate this date with indifference, harboring the fear that even so much as acknowledging it, might offend our religious principles and beliefs.
It is safe to say that we’re going strong down the road of intolerance and bigotry, and we’re proud of ourselves.
Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri on the 4th of January 2011, for Qadri disagreed with the then Governor’s views on the Blasphemy law, and his open support for Aasia Noreen, the first convict under the charges of blasphemy.
We’ll come onto the Islam of the scenario and the reality of Aasia’s case later on, but let’s address the basic issue here;
We’re living in a country where it’s heroic to shoot 27 bullets into a person because they merely hold different views than yours. Let the implications of that sink in. Our humanity has faded into the background as we carry forward the flags of intolerance, preaching and celebrating the notion.
Aasia Noreen, a Christian who was convicted under the blasphemy law for supposedly insulting Prophet Muhammad after first being beaten up and jailed, had earlier had a running dispute with one of her co-workers regarding property damage. When the said co-worker insulted Aasia for drinking water from a cup from which only Muslims could drink (because non-Muslims working in the field just don’t feel thirsty), Aasia retaliated, only to find later an angry mob outside her house that beat her up and dragged her to the police.
There have been many so-called ‘blasphemy cases’ where people have been brutally hacked or burnt to death (even a pregnant woman wasn’t spared). In reality, most or all of these cases are the result of a property, or any other long standing dispute, where Muslims find it easier and more convenient to use the discriminatory blasphemy law against the Non-Muslim in the case. With no questions asked, the police readily ships them to jail, our (non) religious clerics are quick to issue fatwas, and the judge, posing as a disciple, will consider it his religious obligation to issue nothing less than a death sentence.
And IF the court happens to be a little impartial, one of the millions of citizens of Pakistan will definitely pick up a gun and shoot them.
It was against this discriminatory practice that Salman Taseer stood up, “black law” he called it, and was killed.
We complain of those in power abusing the rights of other people, and how they get away with it. In Aasia’s case, we are the said people in power, and look at what we did to the one who spoke against this injustice.
What did the Prophet do when he and his faith were insulted by the people of Taif? He hoped for their guidance, and he refused the town’s destruction after Allah gave him the choice.
But it’s different here.
Here, the chief cleric of the Badshahi Mosque refused, at the last minute, to lead Taseer’s funeral prayers under the excuse of not being in town, while religious parties across the country issued fatwas against mourning Taseer’s death, hailing his assassin as a hero.
But we will mourn his death, and observe this tragic occasion. For it isn’t just Taseer who died; we killed tolerance, humanity, and the possible thought of a liberal (and liberal does not mean short skirts and night clubs, for heaven’s sake) Pakistan.
Salman Taseer exhibited the reason and principles that he stood for in the aforementioned situation, and it is sad that we must prove, time and again, that we do not deserve such leaders.
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