Pakistanis Must Turn Back the Tsunami of Intolerance

A spate of incidents targeting various minorities including Christians and Hindus as well as members of the Muslim Shia community have raised serious concerns in Pakistan.



 This situation brings back echoes of the events preceding the rise of Nazis in Germany that led to the killing of millions of innocent people including a large number of European Jews. A German pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) wrote a poem at the time lamenting the silence of many in the face of massive atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler.

Here's how I express my fears about the current crisis of intolerance in Pakistan by paraphrasing what Niemöller said in 1930s:

First they came for Ahmedis, and I did not speak out
--
Because I was not an Ahmedi.

Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out
--
Because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the Hindus, and I did not speak out
--
Because I was not a Hindu.

Then they came for the Shias, and I did not speak out
--
Because I was not a Shia.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

I urge all sane Pakistanis to speak out against all agents of intolerance and work diligently to defeat them before it's too late. 

Here are two videos of  recent TV discussions I participated in on the subject:







Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Fighting Agents of Intolerance in Pakistan

Muslim Scholars Must Fight Hate in Pakistan

South Asian Christians Celebrate Christmas in Fear

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Vision

Pakistan Must Defeat Agents of Intolerance 

Celebrating Quaid-e-Azam M.A. Jinnah's Birthday

Views: 500

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 11, 2012 at 10:41pm

Here's an excerpt of Pankaj Mishra's review of Civilisation: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson:

‘Civilisation’s going to pieces,’ Tom Buchanan, the Yale-educated millionaire, abruptly informs Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. ‘I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read The Rise of the Colored Empires by this man Goddard? … The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged.’ ‘Tom’s getting very profound,’ his wife Daisy remarks. Buchanan carries on: ‘This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.’ ‘We’ve got to beat them down,’ Daisy whispers with a wink at Nick. But there’s no stopping Buchanan. ‘And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilisation – oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?’-------------

Scott Fitzgerald based Goddard, at least partly, on Theodore Lothrop Stoddard, the author of the bestseller The Rising Tide of Color against White World Supremacy (1920). Stoddard’s fame was a sign of his times, of the overheated racial climate of the early 20th century, in which the Yellow Peril seemed real, the Ku Klux Klan had re-emerged, and Theodore Roosevelt worried loudly about ‘race-suicide’. In 1917, justifying his reluctance to involve the United States in the European war, Woodrow Wilson told his secretary of state that ‘white civilisation and its domination over the world rested largely on our ability to keep this country intact.’

Hysteria about ‘white civilisation’ gripped America after Europe’s self-mutilation in the First World War had encouraged political assertiveness among subjugated peoples from Egypt to China. Unlike other popular racists, who parsed the differences between Nordic and Latin peoples, Stoddard proposed a straightforward division of the world into white and coloured races. He also invested early in Islamophobia, arguing in The New World of Islam (1921) that Muslims posed a sinister threat to a hopelessly fractious and confused West. Like many respectable eugenicists of his time, Stoddard later found much to like about the Nazis, which marked him out for instant superannuation following the exposure of Nazi crimes in 1945.
--------
It is hard, even with Google, to keep up with Ferguson’s many claims and counter-claims. But his announcements of the dawning of the ‘Chinese Century’ and his more recent revised prophecy that India will outpace China, can be found as quickly as the boisterous heralding of the American imperium that he now disavows. As for his views on the innate superiority, indeed indispensability, of Western civilisation, these can be easily ascertained from his published writings and statements. Here is an extract from an interview early this year in the Guardian justifying the conquest of Native Americans:

The Apache and the Navajo had all sorts of admirable traits. In the absence of literacy we don’t know what they were because they didn’t write them down. We do know they killed a hell of a lot of bison. But had they been left to their own devices, I don’t think we’d have anything remotely resembling the civilisation we’ve had in North America.

It says something about the political culture of our age that Ferguson has got away with this disgraced worldview for as long as he has. Certainly, it now needs to be scrutinised in places other than the letters page of the LRB.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n21/pankaj-mishra/watch-this-man

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 17, 2012 at 9:52pm

Here's NY Times on derogatory film "Innocence of Muslims" mocking Prophet Muhammad:

For Google last week, the decision was clear. An anti-Islamic video that provoked violence worldwide was not hate speech under its rules because it did not specifically incite violence against Muslims, even if it mocked their faith.

The White House was not so sure, and it asked Google to reconsider the determination, a request the company rebuffed.

Although the administration’s request was unusual, for Google, it represented the kind of delicate balancing act that Internet companies confront every day.

These companies, which include communications media like Facebook and Twitter, write their own edicts about what kind of expression is allowed, things as diverse as pointed political criticism, nudity and notions as murky as hate speech. And their employees work around the clock to check when users run afoul of their rules.

Google is not the only Internet company to grapple in recent days with questions involving the anti-Islamic video, which appeared on YouTube, which Google owns. Facebook on Friday confirmed that it had blocked links to the video in Pakistan, where it violates the country’s blasphemy law. A spokeswoman said Facebook had also removed a post that contained a threat to a United States ambassador, after receiving a report from the State Department; Facebook has declined to say in which country the ambassador worked.
-----------
mpany said, “Facebook’s policy prohibits content that threatens or organizes violence, or praises violent organizations.”

Facebook also explicitly prohibits what it calls “hate speech,” which it defines as attacking a person. In addition, it allows users to report content they find objectionable, which Facebook employees then vet. Facebook’s algorithms also pick up certain words that are then sent to human inspectors to review; the company declined to provide details on what kinds of words set off that kind of review. ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/technology/on-the-web-a-fine-line...

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 27, 2015 at 4:28pm

How One #Pakistan Town in #Sindh Mastered Religious Tolerance http://huff.to/1RnFwuU via HuffPost Religion​

"IN February this year, I happened to travel to Tharparkar with friends to view the drought-affected areas and launch some projects to overcome the disaster that hits every year. After a 20-hour arduous road and rail journey, I finally reached the quaint little town of Mithi, and here I experienced what I had never expected to see in a Pakistani town.

Mithi is as sweet as the name it has been given. Approximately 80 percent of the population here is Hindu. It is a town where Muslims, out of respect for Hindus, do not slaughter cows; and where Hindus, out of respect for Muslim rites, have never organised any marriage ceremonies or celebrations during the month of Muharram.

Not only that, the Hindus of Mithi also happily participate in providing food and drinks for Muslims during Ramazan, and both groups exchange sweets on Eid and Diwali. The crime rate in Mithi is at two percent and never has anyone witnessed any incident of religious intolerance.

Speaking with the locals of Mithi, I discovered that here, one could find Hindu speakers organising majaalis in Muharram -- something I haven't seen anywhere else in Pakistan -- and as my friend in the United States had stated, I heard Hindus sharing their account of Muharram, where they led Ashura processions and provided assistance to procession members in a city where Muslims hardly made up 20 percent of the population.
Pakistan has become synonymous with terrorism. On most local and international news channels, we hear about minorities getting slaughtered at the hands of extremists; attacks on temples, churches, imambargahs; or the forced conversions of Hindus and Christians in the country.

I reckon you might be pleasantly surprised to know that there is a small town in Tharparkar, a district of the Sindh province where none of this is happening.

Mithi is one of the few towns in Pakistan where Muslims do not form the majority. In this quiet portion of a sprawling desert, both Hindus and Muslims have lived together like brothers since the creation of Pakistan.

In November 2014, when I was selected for a three-week fellowship program in the United States, I met a gentleman from Sindh who was also among my batch. He introduced himself like this:

"I am a Hindu from Sindh, but throughout my life I have lived with Muslims and this is why during Ramazan, we fast along with them; and when it is Muharram, us Hindu boys lead the procession because this is the culture which Sufism has given us."

I was dumbstruck at the idea of a Hindu fasting in Ramazan or leading a Muharram procession. Was this actually true?"

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 27, 2015 at 4:37pm

#Pakistan village of Rasoolpur: 100% literacy, no crime, very clean http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/06/rasoolpur-model-village-in-pakistan....

Pakistan's sensational media coverage projects only the dark side of the country with a constant stream of news stories of militancy, illiteracy and deprivation. But BBC Urdu took a road less traveled and found a small village of Rasoolpur in the Punjab which demolishes some of the worst stereotypes of the country.

Here's how BBC describes it:
دور دراز علاقوں سے ایک تو خبر ہی مشکل سے آتی ہے۔آتی بھی ہے تو اکثر بری خبر ہی ہوتي ہے۔ شايد سی لیے رسول پور جیسے گاؤں، 99 فیصد شرح خواندگی اور زیرو جرائم کا ریکارڈ رکھنے کے باوجود سنسنسی زدہ میڈیا کے لیے خبر کا درجہ نہیں رکھتے۔۔
Translation: News from remote areas of Pakistan does not easily reach the urban press but when it does, any good news like 100% literacy and zero crime in Rasoolpur village is discarded by the sensational media as not newsworthy.

Rasoolpur is a village with a population of just 2000. Most of its residents are ethnic Baloch whose ancestors migrated from Pakistan's Balochistan province to Southern Punjab. It is located in Rajanpur district in the Seraiki speaking region. Its literacy rate is near 100%. The United Nations defines literacy as the ability to sign one's name. But Rasoolpuris hold themselves to a much higher standard; they have all their children finish high school.

There are no children out of school. It is crime-free. It is clean. There are two high schools, one for the girls and other for the boys. http://www.riazhaq.com/2013/06/rasoolpur-model-village-in-pakistan....

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 31, 2015 at 10:25am

Comic book 'Guardians' to steer young Pakistanis away from extremism

ISLAMABAD: When Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar last December, killing 150 people, mainly children, in the country's deadliest terror attack, comic book creators Mustafa Hasnain, Gauhar Aftab and Yahya Ehsan decided it was time to act.

The trio had already been working on a series to raise awareness about the corruption that plagues Pakistan — an economically-underperforming Muslim giant of 200 million people.

But they quickly decided to shift their focus to violent extremism — and felt holding candle-light vigils was not the best way to effect change.

Read: Militant siege of Peshawar school ends, 141 killed

Hasnain, a British-educated computer graphics specialist, founded his own company Creative Frontiers in 2013, today employing 20 people, including young male and female artists, programmers and writers, in a hip Silicon Valley-style office in Lahore.

He explained: “It was a huge watershed moment for us. I got together with Gauhar and I said 'We really have to do something about this'.

“We used to stand over there (at vigils) with a candle... but we wanted to do something more.“

The result was “Paasban” — or “Guardian” — a three-part series featuring a group of close friends at college who begin to worry when one of them drops out to join a religious student group that is ostensibly working for charitable causes. Some in the group however, suspect it may have darker aims.

Fifteen thousand of the books are set to be distributed for free from June 1 at schools in Lahore, Multan and Lodhran while some copies will be made available in book stores.

The comic will also be distributed on a tailor-made app the group have developed for Apple and Android smartphones.

Personal journey
For English-language script writer Aftab, the pathway from disillusionment to signing up to carry a gun and fight the so-called enemies of Islam was not just something he had read about in the news, — it was a choice he had almost made as a child.

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 4, 2015 at 8:25am

#Pakistan mosque imam gets 10-year jail for hate speech http://www.dawn.com/news/1192238

BAHAWALPUR: Anti-terrorism court judge Khalid Arshad on Friday awarded 10-year and four months jail term to the prayer leader of a mosque at Qaimpur Town near Hasilpur, about 90km from here, for delivering hate speech. He was also awarded Rs0.7m fine.

The convict, Maulana Abdul Ghani, was arrested by the Qaimpur police after he delivered the speech against a sect about two months back.

Meanwhile, the ATC announced judgements in four other cases pertaining to the distribution of hate literature.

Muhammad Waqas was awarded sentence of 3.5 months with a fine of Rs5,000, Rafiq Ahmed three months jail along Rs5,000 fine, Muhammad Zahid, three months and fifteen days while Talib Husain was given sentence of 3.5 months with Rs5,000 fine.

RAINWATER: Several dried-up open ponds, locally called tobas, in Cholistan were filled up with rainwater after the recent heavy rain.

According to Cholistan Development Authority’s director livestock Asghar Ramay, the rainwater in the ponds would meet the needs of both humans and cattle in the vast desert area.

He said the areas of Bijnot, Maujgarh, Dingarh, Salmsar and others received heavy rains while there was a drizzle in the parts of Derawar and Nawankot.

Mr Ramay expressed hope there would be grass and increase in natural pastures for animals after rain in the desert.

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