Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another accusation of Blasphemy

An Ismaili doctor has now been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan -- another case in which those zealous for their faith can display their indignation at the way the rest of the world behaves. The sad part of such claims is that they appear to have become mere devices for intimidation of those who are marginal to those who consider themselves main-stream true believers. Christians, Ismailis, Shias are easy targets in Pakistan. Besides the Christian woman Asia Bibi we now have Naushad Valiyani to worry about.
The contradiction is that the more that pretenses of "faith" are enforced by public demand and by the courts the less "faith" can be authentic. The great creative innovation in the Western world -- originally established by Roger Williams in the new British colony of Rhode Island -- was the insistence that true faith could be authentic only where one can safely refuse to believe. Such a situation is only possible where the State guarantees the right to practice [or not] one's personal faith.
In the zeal to have a "Muslim" society some religious enthusiasts in Pakistan have turned religion into a litmus test of patriotism. In such a system authenticity -- genuine questioning, genuine doubt, a serious personal search for certainty on moral and metaphysical issues -- becomes dangerous, even an act of treason.
What can it mean to quench such personal searching in a whole society? What Pakistan has become may be an indication of what happens: The zealous parade their religiosity; the rest remain silent.

From the Express Tribune, Dec 12, 2010.
Doctor arrested on blasphemy charges

Activists chant slogans against Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who had been sentenced to death, during a protest in Karachi on December 3, 2010. PHOTO: IRFAN ALI
KARACHI: A doctor has been arrested on charges of blasphemy in Hyderabad, police said on Sunday.
Naushad Valiyani was detained on Friday following a complaint by a medical representative who visited the doctor in the city of Hyderabad.
“The arrest was made after the complainant told the police that Valiyani threw his business card, which had his full name, Muhammad Faizan, in a dustbin during a visit to his clinic,” regional police chief Mushtaq Shah told AFP.
“Faizan accused Valiyani of committing blasphemy and asked police to register a case against the doctor.”
Shah said the issue had been resolved after Valiyani, a member of the Ismaili community apologised but local religious leaders intervened and pressed for action.
“Valiyani had assured Faizan that he did not mean to insult the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) by throwing the visiting card in the dustbin,” Shah said, adding that the police had registered a case under the Blasphemy Act.
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1 comment:

Sami said...

The so-called blasphemy law serves nothing but inhuman purposes, and the charge is usually (or almost always) made against Pakistani Christians of low socioeconomic status. But unlike many other communities, Ismaili Muslims are not normally seen as a persecuted minority in Pakistan. They're actually a more well-educated and prosperous demographic than most Pakistanis. So maybe it says something about the state of societal affairs at this time when even privileged minorities are not immune from becoming targets of these witch hunts. Then again, the repression of internal 'enemies' is being intensified by 'threatened' majorities in many places these days, and not just in Pakistan.