High on Fanaticism
A lot has been written about the assassination of the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who got killed by his bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a member of the Elite Force, on January 4th.
I couldn’t muster up courage to write about it earlier because I was stunned by the sequence of events that took place in the past few days. The assassination itself was a very sad occurrence but more disturbing was the reaction of an educated and internet savvy people. Within hours of murder a facebook fan page honoring, praising, congratulating and celebrating the killer’s gruesome act surfaced. In no time, 2000 plus people joined that page saluting their hero. Shocking!
The next day on January 5th, Qadri was showered with flowers by the lawyers in Islamabad when he was taken to the court. Around 300 lawyers offered to fight Qadri’s case for free. More shocking!
The clerics endorsed the act of Qadri and provided him with the full religious cover. They issued edicts refraining people from offering funeral prayers for the slain governor. Why? Because he was declared a blasphemer for calling Pakistan’s blasphemy law, codified in sections 295 A-B and C a ‘black law’.
Taseer called that law a black law which was neither ordained in Quran nor in Sunnah but he was declared a blasphemer by the religious bigots and eventually got killed for that. How ironic and sad!
The gradual divide in the society between the minority liberals and the growing religious zealots had been evident since sometime. However, the killing of Taseer further pushed our society to the limits where there is a clear line of division between the liberals and the rightists. The obsession of rightist with religion has reached the level that if X doesn’t agree with Z’s version of Islam no problem; issue a death fatwa and bump him off. If B’s words are misconstrued, intention deduced and twisted. Call him a blasphemer or an infidel issue a fatwa and bump him off. The religious groups will justify the killing in the light of their own twisted faith.
Sometimes I feel Salman Taseer was a mere victim of misplaced anger, that had been brewing since 2005 onwards after the Danish caricatures, the facebook contest that led up to facebook banning last year. Anyone speaking against blasphemy law was taken as the perpetrator, playing in the hands of west and the enemy of Islam and the Prophet (PBUH).
The state’s apathy and luke-warm response to Taseer’s killing was felt by all. The feeling lingers that the government has caved in to the religious extremist that are multiplying like anything. Its unfortunate to see the rightists being high on fanaticism. The ‘opium of religion’ that General Zia fed in abundance is showing its signs. No reasoning is accepted. No debate allowed. My way or the highway is the rule of the day.