Ahmadiyya Times

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Faith and Inter-faith: Churches in Muslim countries

I always find it very discomforting reading about sanctions on building places of worship or attacks on such places. I feel a lot of sorrow whenever I read about a place of worship being attacked, damaged, demolished and disrespected.

Sacred Heart Church, Lahore, Pakistan has be repeatedly threatened.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Article
Source/Credit: Times of Malta
By Laiq Ahmed Atif | November 20, 2010

Churches, synago­gues and mosques are all places of worship where the name of God the creator and lord of the entire universe is oft-commemorated. Thus, they all are very sacred and holy and deserve to be respected and honoured fully, irrespective of the denomination to which they belong.

But, unfortunately, there are some countries that do not allow the building of churches, mosques or other places of worship on their territory. Also, there are some people who are not paying full respect to the places of worship that do not belong to them or which are not the symbols of their religion. However, I believe all places of worship, whatever the religion they belong to, whoever the worshipers, whatever the way they worship God, are sacred and holy and must be respected fully, in every country, in every part of the world and by all people.

I always find it very discomforting reading about sanctions on building places of worship or attacks on such places. I feel a lot of sorrow whenever I read about a place of worship being attacked, damaged, demolished and disrespected. Or about any religious symbol having been dishonoured by the people of other faiths.

I have often been asked a question about a topic I also see many comments and writings on: “Why do Muslim countries not allow the building of churches?” This is a very important and valid question and I will try to shed some light on the matter.

First of all, I would like to say there are many churches in present-day Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia. This is in line with the freedom of religion that Islam allows. Islam believes in full freedom of faith and rejects any sort of force or violence in matters of religion. The Holy Quran says: “There should be no compulsion in religion’’ (2:257)… “for you is your religion and for me is my religion’’ (109:7).

That is to say, no one has the right to force others into complying with their demands or compelling others to follow their line of thinking. These verses have clearly showed no one has the right to force anyone against his will to believe or to deny any faith or religion. The choice of faith is a personal matter and everyone is allowed to build the place of worship according to his beliefs and he can pray freely.

However, it is right to note that some Muslim countries have gone against this Islamic injunction and prohibited collective worship by non-Muslims.

This is wrong and completely unacceptable. Never did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) forbid the building of a church, nor did he order the demolition of a church. There is not even a single example in his entire life when he ever prohibited the building of a church or he ever gave a permission to destroy or demolish a church.

His entire life is a clear example of the freedom of faith. When he migrated to Medina he signed a Constitution with the people of Medina that everyone will be free in his religious matters and they all will be equal in the eyes of the state.

Once, during the time of the Prophet Muhammad, a Christian delegation from Najran came to Medina to have interfaith dialogues with Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad extended to them warm hospitality and had discussions with them for many days in his mosque in Medina, called Mosque of the Prophet. At one time during the talks, the Christian delegation asked for permission to go out for some time. The Prophet Muhammad asked them: “Why do you want to go out?” and they replied: “It is our prayer time and we would like to go out and pray outside this mosque.’’ The Prophet said: “It is also a house of Allah and is built for the purpose of worship; you may pray and worship in this mosque’’. And he spared them the place in his mosque and went out with his companions so the Christians could pray easily according to their faith and beliefs.

This incident and the teachings of the Quran mentioned above clearly show that not only is building churches permitted in Muslim states but Christians are also free to pray in Muslim mosques. And any action against this clear teaching of religious freedom is unacceptable and is totally against the teachings of Islam.

In the light of these teachings, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat has opened the doors of its mosques to all, to the people of different faiths, and it always tries to tie the bonds of love, respect and brotherhood, which the world today needs more than ever before in the history of mankind.

The author is president, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta. amjmalta@gmail.com

Read original post here: Churches in Muslim countries

Filed under: Christian, Church, Islam, Laiq Ahmed Atif, Malta, persecution

Pakistan: Zardari stays execution of blasphemy accused Christian woman

The case has drawn huge attention in the media, and there is deep sympathy for Aasia Bibi. Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was “being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities”.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Daily India | Asian News International
By  ANI | November 18, 2010

Islamabad, Nov 20: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has stayed the execution of a Christian mother sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy.

http://www.dailyindia.com/show/409687.php
On Friday, Zardari directed the federal minister for minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, to submit a report in this regard within three days, The News reported.

The lawyer for the accused, SK Shahid, has already challenged the verdict in the Lahore High Court.

Earlier, a religious leader of the local mosque, Qari Saleem, had lodged an FIR against her for allegedly passing derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet.

On November 8, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by an additional sessions judge in Nankana Sahib district on charges of committing blasphemy under the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge also imposed a fine of 300,000 rupees on her.

The case has drawn huge attention in the media, and there is deep sympathy for Aasia Bibi. Several NGOs have called for repealing the blasphemy law because it was “being used by illiterate masses in rural areas to hoodwink the minorities”.

The spokesman of the National Commission of Justice and Peace (NCJP)- an NGO working for minority rights in Pakistan- said that the proceedings of the case took place under intense pressure, and the verdict was likely to be overturned in the high court.

Earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI had also called for her release, and said that Christians in Pakistan were “often victims of violence and discrimination.”

It is noteworthy that only around three per cent of Pakistan’s population of 167 million is estimated to be non-Muslim.

Copyright Asian News International/DailyIndia.com

Read original post here: Zardari stays execution of blasphemy accused Christian woman

Filed under: Asia Bibi, Blasphemy, Christian, persecution

Indonesia: Ahmadiyah followers evicted again

“We have reported the matter to the regent, and next Friday he will conduct Friday prayers in Ketapang and provide guidance to residents. There’s no decision whatsoever now, but we have asked the Ahmadiyah members to leave Ketapang to prevent untoward matters from happening.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: The Jakarta Post | Headlines
By Panca Nugraha | November 20, 2010

West Lombok: Members of the Ahmadiyah sect, who returned to their homes in West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, a few months ago after being evicted, were evicted once again on Friday following pressure from local villagers.

Dozens of Gegerung villagers converged at the village office on Friday and urged the village chief to immediately evict the Ahmadiyah members from Ketapang hamlet.

They voiced objection to the presence of the Ahmadiyah members to the Gegerung village chief, the Lingsar district head and police chief.

During the meeting held at the Gegerung village office, located around 3 kilometers from Ketapang hamlet, a number of Ahmadiyah followers began leaving their homes, especially women and children.

Most of the men stayed until noon on the grounds that they were protecting their belongings.

The Ahmadiyah members, made up of 12 families, or 45 people, eventually agreed to leave their homes before Friday prayers after officials from the village administrative office and police assured the safety of their belongings.

They took with them household utensils that they could carry on motorcycles and returned to the displaced persons shelter at Wisma Transito in Mataram.

Gegerung village chief Sahudin told reporters the Ahmadiyah members returned to Ketapang six months ago, but they did not report their presence to the village administrative office.

The local villagers deemed the returning Ahmadiyah members a disturbance.

“The residents are resolute and rejected their return. We have coordinated on the issue with the regent.

For the time being, we ask the Ahmadiyah members to return to their shelter at Wisma Transito and vacate their homes in Ketapang so as to avoid undesirable incidents,” said Sahudin.

He added that after the meeting with residents, he and the Lingsar Police chief immediately reported the residents’ demand to West Lombok Regent Zaini Arony.

“We have reported the matter to the regent, and next Friday he will conduct Friday prayers in Ketapang and provide guidance to residents. There’s no decision whatsoever now, but we have asked the Ahmadiyah members to leave Ketapang to prevent untoward matters from happening,” he said.

The 45 Ahmadiyah members in Ketapang are part of the 36 families, or 127 Ahmadiyah members, staying at Wisma Transito.

The Ahmadiyah members, who were initially evicted from their village in February 2006, were forced to return to their homes in Ketapang because they had been staying at the Wisma Transito shelter without any certainty about their fate.

“We are willing to leave if asked, but please pay attention to our problem. We also want to lead a normal life like other people,” said Ahmadiyah member in Ketapang, Sarim Ahmad, 45.

Sarim and the other families returned to Ketapang three months ago. They returned to till their land and rear chickens because they have not received social assistance at the Wisma Transito shelter for the past two years.

He urged authorities to assure the safety of their belongings they left behind in Ketapang, because they had often lost chickens.

Read original post here: Ahmadiyah followers evicted again

Filed under: Indonesia, persecution, Refugee, Tolerance, West Lombok

Minorities abused in Pakistan as no religious freedom: US

The annual US State Department Report on Global Religious Freedom, which was released by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, said “organised violence against minorities have increased” in Pakistan.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: MSN News | India
By Agencies | November 18, 2010

Washington: The US on Thursday expressed concern over the discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, saying serious problems remain with regard to religious freedom in the country.

“There have been attacks against Christians, against the Ahmadis. There’s still discriminatory laws on the books, blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadi laws. We’re raising these issues with the government of Pakistan,” said Michael Posner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

The annual US State Department Report on Global Religious Freedom, which was released by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, said “organised violence against minorities have increased” in Pakistan.

“Organised violence against minorities increased; for example, there was violence against Christians in Gojra, Punjab, and a terrorist attack on Ahmadis in Lahore, Punjab,” it said, adding “There were instances in which law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody”.

The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its religious beliefs. Members of other Islamic sects, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus also reported governmental and societal discrimination, the report said.

Despite the government’s steps to protect religious minorities, the number and severity of reported high-profile cases against minorities increased during the reporting period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

Posner, responding to questions after the release of the annual Religious Freedom report, said one of the things this report does is identify, in Pakistan and elsewhere, government actions that contribute to the problem.

It expressed concern over discriminatory legislation and the government’s failure or delay in addressing religious hostility by societal actors fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities.

During the reporting period, US embassy officials closely monitored the treatment of religious minorities, worked to eliminate the teaching of religious intolerance, and encouraged the amendment or repeal of the blasphemy laws, it added.

Source: Agencies

Read original post here: Minorities abused in Pakistan as no religious freedom: US

Filed under: Annual Report, Blasphemy, Human Rights, Minorities, persecution

Pakistan: Blasphemy laws — Stopping the rot

The pattern involves one party targeting another, alleging blasphemy while the real motives are personal enmity or economic rivalry…

Photo: Reuters

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Asian Human Rights Commission
By Beena Sarwar | November 16, 2010

An article by Ms. Beena Sarwar published by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The introspection, debate and outrage generated a month ago by the attacks on two villages in Gojra on July 31 and Aug 1 may be out of public sight, as happened all too often in the past, but the nine people murdered and the homes and churches gutted are not out of mind. Neither is Najeeb Zafar, the young factory owner in Sheikhupura, Punjab, killed on August 4 for allegedly desecrating Quranic verses when he removed a calendar from a wall. The following day, police in Sanghar, Sindh, saved a similarly accused 60-year old woman, Akhtari Malkani by taking her in protective custody.

On the surface, these incidents were motivated by passions aroused by allegations of blasphemy or disrespect to the holy Quran. These criminal charges can be punishable by death – but this is a punishment for the state to administer, not private citizens. The real motivation remains settling scores, a pattern identified over twenty years ago when the first ‘blasphemy murder’ took place; that of the Punjabi poet and teacher Naiamat Ahmar in Faisalabad in 1992.

The pattern involves one party targeting another, alleging blasphemy while the real motives are personal enmity or economic rivalry as Zubeida Mustafa noted in a recent column. The accused tend to be poor people who have improved their lot in life, triggering jealousies. Accusations of blasphemy are used to justify the violence. Ms Mustafa also pointed to (mis) education as a factor that makes it easy, when such an allegation is levelled, to rabble-rouse a mob into violence.

The three recent cases bear out these observations. In Gojra, evidence points to a pre-meditated plan aimed at clearing out the village from the area, while the administration turned a deaf ear to the warnings and pleas of observers. A disgruntled employee accused Najeeb Zafar of disrespecting the Quran; the unarmed police sent to protect him could only watch as the mob set upon him. Akhtari Malkani had a monetary dispute with her accuser but disappeared without registering an FIR. She says she threw a book of accounts on the floor, not the holy Quran.

Last April, there was the horrific case of Jagdish Kumar, the young Hindu factory worker in Karachi, lynched by co-workers for alleged blasphemy. The real reason appears to have been personal enmity based on Kumar’s reported association with a Muslim girl.

Such cases have been taking place since the option of life imprisonment under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (“Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet”), the ‘blasphemy law’, introduced by Gen. Ziaul Haq in 1985 was amended by default in 1992 to make death the mandatory punishment for anyone convicted under this law. Certainly, the law does not provide for these extra-judicial murders. However, it is equally true no such murder took place until death was made the mandatory punishment for 295-C convictions.

People of all faiths, including Muslims (remember the Muslim religious scholar lynched in Gujranwala, 1994?), have been accused and attacked since then. Investigations into blasphemy accusations indicate pre-meditation rather than the heat of passion. Those who commit the violence may be arrested but none has ever been punished. Even the Inquiry Commission Tribunal headed by Justice Tanvir A. Khan of the Lahore High Court examining the destruction of Christian homes and churches in Shantinagar, 1997, was quashed (the Punjab Chief Minister then too was Shahbaz Sharif; will he rise to the occasion this time?).

The public defamation of blasphemy victims is a key tactic preceding such attacks — posters and mosque loudspeakers are routinely used for this.

Naimat Ahmar was killed after posters cropped up warning people that a Christian teacher (Ahmar) was leading their children astray. A handwritten copy in Urdu that I saw at the time warned Muslims that Ahmar was misleading students, telling them that the Prophet (pbuh) ‘stole’ goats – ‘bakriyaN charaya kartey thay’. Replace ‘churaya’ (stole) with ‘charaya’ (grazed) and it’s apparent what Ahmar probably said.

A youngster from the militant outfit Anjuman-e-Sipah-e-Sahaba (later changed to Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) accosted Ahmar outside the Education Department in Faisalabad and knifed him to death. Investigations revealed that the murderer’s uncle wanted Ahmar’s job in the Education Department. The allegation of blasphemy alone was enough to ‘justify’ the murder. Policemen at the lockup housing the murderer, garlanded by his ASS (sic) mentors, embraced and kissed him. The ASS was, in fact, behind just about every ‘blasphemy case’ during the 1990s — the SSP, now banned, is believed to be behind the Gojra carnage as well.

Blasphemy accused are attacked and murdered even in prisons and police lock-ups, sometimes by the very people who are supposed to protect them. In 2004 a police constable attacked Samuel Masih, 27, a prisoner under trial at Kot Lakhpat jail with a brick-cutter. Samuel had been charged with spitting at the wall of a mosque (Section 295, “defiling a place of worship with the intent of insulting the religion of any class”, maximum sentence up to two years). He succumbed to his injuries the following day. “I wanted to earn a place in heaven by killing him,” Ali reportedly confessed.

The fanatical and misguided mindset cultivated over the past few decades will not disappear by simply repealing 295-C, although this must be done. Embarking on a sensible education policy is also a long-term step that must be taken to stop the rot. What must be an immediate priority is the strict enforcement of law and order.

Those inciting violence and murder from mosque loudspeakers and public accusations, true or false, must be held culpable, charged, tried and punished according to law. This also goes for those who desecrate a holy book or symbol of any religion. There must be accountability for those who allow these murders to take place. The political leadership is responsible for providing police with the training, means and the orders to prevent such violence. Finally, religion cannot be used or allowed to justify murder.

The views shared in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the AHRC, and the AHRC takes no responsibility for them.

About the Author: The writer is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker. Ms. Sarwar’s email address is beena.sarwar@gmail.com

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Read original post here: Blasphemy laws — Stopping the rot

Filed under: 295-C, Beena Sarvar, Blasphemy, Christian, persecution

Indonesia: Ahmadiyah Families Again Forced to Flee in Lombok

On Friday, …, following complaints from villagers opposing their presence in Gegerung, local authorities raided the homes of the remaining Ahmadiyah families, forcing them to flee once again with their belongings.

File Photo

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: The Jakarta Globe
By Jakarta Globe | November 20, 2010

Jakarta. More than four years after they were forced out of their village in West Lombok by their neighbors, 12 Ahmadiyah families are once again on the run.

Some 50 followers of Ahmadiyah, a minority Islamic sect, have been living in Gegerung village for the past three years — returning a year after they were first chased away when hard-liners attacked their homes in February 2006.

Twenty-two other families who fled Gegerung have since been living at a temporary shelter in Mataram, the capital of West Nusa Tenggara and main city on Lombok Island.

On Friday, however, following complaints from villagers opposing their presence in Gegerung, local authorities raided the homes of the remaining Ahmadiyah families, forcing them to flee once again with their belongings.

The head of the Lingsar subdistrict, who led the raid, said he was bowing to popular demand and opposed any move by the Ahmadiyah families to return to their homes. Although he called on villagers not to resort to violence, one house was set on fire during the protest.

Once again, the evicted families have had to return to the shelter in Mataram, a former dormitory for hajj pilgrims in transit.

Ahmadiyah communities have been the target of attacks by hard-line Muslims in several regions, mostly in Lombok and West Java, in recent years. They claim to also face continued discrimination, having difficulties obtaining jobs and processing official paperwork.

Followers of Ahmadiyah, a sect founded in India in 1889, profess that the group’s founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was the Messiah, a belief that is contested by mainstream Muslims.

Ahmadiyah representatives have in the past had to dismiss unsubstantiated claims the group does not believe Muhammad was the last prophet and does not consider the Koran its holy book.

Read original post here: Ahmadiyah Families Again Forced to Flee in Lombok

Filed under: Indonesia, Lombok, persecution

Pakistan: UPDATE | Gunmen open fire at Ahmadiyya mosque in Lahore

Ahmadis are a religious minority that are being targeted by terrorists. In May this year, at least 86 people were killed and over 200 injured when terrorists attacked Friday congregations of the Ahmadis in twin assaults in Lahore.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: The Express Tribune
By Express | Lahore | October 18, 2010
Edited by Ahmadiyya Times

The following is an update to Ahmadiyya Times news story reported earlier. [read here]

It was Eight people who started aerial firing outside an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore’s Mughalpura area on Friday, The Express Tribune reported.

According to the report, those who started the firing managed to escape after security guards deputed there opened retaliatory fire.

No casualty was reported.

The report further said that according to the administration of the Ahmadiyya community, CCTV cameras installed outside the building captured images of the eight miscreants.

The video footage has been turned over to the Police and their investigations are underway.

The community has filed the FIR and a case has also been registered under the anti-terror law, the newspaper said.

Ahmadis are a religious minority that are being targeted by terrorists. In May this year, at least 86 people were killed and over 200 injured when terrorists attacked Friday congregations of the Ahmadis in twin assaults in Lahore.

— Source The Express Tribune
— Edited by Ahmadiyya Times

Read original post here: Gunmen open fire at Ahmadiyya mosque in Lahore

Filed under: Attack, Lahore, persecution

Faith and Extremism: Serious problems remain in Pakistan on religious freedom: US

“Organised violence against minorities increased; for example, there was violence against Christians in Gojra, Punjab, and a terrorist attack on Ahmadis in Lahore, Punjab. “There were instances in which law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody.”

Anti-Ahmadi and Anti Christian graffiti

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Hindustan Times | World
By Press Trust Of India | November 18, 2010

Noting that serious problems remain in Pakistan with regard to religious freedom, the Obama Administration has expressed its concern over the existence of laws that are “discriminatory” against religious minorities. “There have been attacks against Christians, against the Ahmadis. There’s still
discriminatory laws on the books, blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadi laws.

“We’re raising these issues with the government of Pakistan,” assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and Labour, Michael Posner, said.

Posner was responding to questions after the release of the annual state department report on Global Religious Freedom by secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“The (Pak) government is taking steps. It’s a very tense situation now, and there are tensions within the society. So it’s a mixed picture, honestly.

We give the government credit for steps its taken, but also recognise that more needs to be done. And it’s part of our diplomacy with them,” Posner said in response to a question.

One of the things this report does is identify, in Pakistan and elsewhere, government actions that contribute to the problem, he said.

The annual state department report said despite the government’s steps to protect religious minorities, the number and severity of reported high-profile cases against minorities increased during the reporting period.

“Organised violence against minorities increased; for example, there was violence against Christians in Gojra, Punjab, and a terrorist attack on Ahmadis in Lahore, Punjab.

“There were instances in which law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody,” it said.

Security forces and other government agencies did not adequately prevent or address societal abuse against minorities.

Discriminatory legislation and the government’s failure or delay in addressing religious hostility by societal actors fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities, it said.

“Specific laws that discriminated against religious minorities included the anti-Ahmadi provisions of the penal code and the blasphemy laws which provided the death penalty for defiling Islam or its prophets,” said the report.

The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its religious beliefs. Members of other Islamic sects, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus also reported governmental and societal discrimination, it said.

Read original post here: Serious problems remain in Pakistan on religious freedom: US

Filed under: Annual Report, Pakistan, persecution, State Dept.

Faith and common sense: Truth is never extremist

A mother of five, who belonged to a minority religion, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy this week, which is also the first such conviction of a woman. The womans case dates back to 2009, when she was asked to fetch water, while working in the fields.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Trading Markets
Asia Pulse Data Source | November 12, 2010

The religion of Islam, as I understand it, lays great emphasis on all human beings being equal. Some of that teaching managed to get fudged because of living in the subcontinent where the Hindu faith does not consider the entire human race as equals and is divided in a caste system. Despite living in Pakistan, and for 63 years now, there continue to be Muslims here, who believe that allowing people belonging to minority faiths to touch their utensils and food items renders them impure. One has never heard a fatwa against such behaviour.

A mother of five, who belonged to a minority religion, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy this week, which is also the first such conviction of a woman. The womans case dates back to 2009, when she was asked to fetch water, while working in the fields. A group of Muslim women labourers objected saying that she could not touch the water bowl. A few days later, some women went to a local cleric and alleged that she had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The cleric went to the local police and opened an investigation. She was arrested and prosecuted under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which carries the death penalty.

The blasphemy law, in my opinion, has been misused with a serious fallout both at home and abroad. It is the easiest way to take revenge. Both the founders of Islam and the country did not believe in persecution of minorities. The Prophet (SAW) forgave even those who were the most disrespectful to him. He has given us that role model to follow. Unfortunately, the blasphemy sometimes is used as a tool of persecution to settle other scores that have nothing to do with religion. There is an urgent need to review these laws. Even on occasions when there have been acquittals on blasphemy charges, those acquitted have been forced into hiding or exile for fear of attacks by extremists. Some have been killed while on trial.

Speaking out against injustice and demanding justice for all is what differentiates the courageous from the ordinary. Arundhathi Roy, in her own inimitable way, continues to seek out and speak the truth in our neighbouring India. In the face of intense criticism from Bharatiya Janata Party and Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu group, Arundhati wrote about the Kashmir issue this week as it deserves, with objectivity and truthfulness. The once solid consensus on Kashmir suddenly seems a little fragile, she thinks. She admonishes President Barack Obama for not mentioning Kashmir during his recent visit to India, despite calling for its resolution just before he became President. Just in the last few months 111 people have been killed, more than 3,000 wounded and over 1,000 arrested. For three years in a row, the Kashmiri stone pelters, mostly teenagers, have been on the streets protesting what they see as Indias violent occupation.

According to Arundhati: They dont seem to have leaders or belong to a political party. They represent themselves. And suddenly, the second largest army in the world doesnt know what to do. The Indian government doesnt know who to negotiate with and many Indians are realising that they have been lied to for decades.

India and Pakistan, if they are to claim their positions in this world as emerging, economically viable and democratic countries, will have to put their houses in order. They can listen to Bulley Shah, who wrote this so many years ago:

You have learnt so much from reading thousands of books,
Have you ever read whats inside you?
You go sit in mosques and temples,
Have you ever visited your own souls?
You, who are always busy fighting Satan,
Have you ever fought your own evil intentions?





The writer is a freelance columnist.

Read original post here: Agent Provocateur – Truth is never extremist

Filed under: Blasphemy, Pakistan, persecution