Monday 3 August 2009

Gojra: bow your heads in shame

Killing of seven men, woman and children belonging to Christian faith and burning of a residential colony in Gojra is not the first incidence of its kind and will not be the last in Pakistan. Story line is all too familiar and has been used by the perpetrators with precision every time it happens.

This is how the script is reported:
  1. An individual or a group of people belonging to Christian faith are reported to have desecrated pieces of paper with Quranic verses on them
  2. A "God" fearing Muslim reports the incident to the cleric of the local mosque
  3. Cleric announces a call for all "God" fearing Muslims to get together and teach the Christian "infidels" a lesson
  4. An angry mob continuously urged by the Cleric attacks the whole community where the offending "infidels" live
  5. Properties of the offenders and their neighbourhood are torched and some innocent bystanders killed
  6. The offenders are either killed on the spot, or are taken into "protective custody" to be tried in a court of law
  7. Both communities get back to their day to day business
This is how it really happens:
  1. Two ordinary people from different faiths have a business conflict (normally something to do with alcohol) or a normal teenage or neighbourly scuffle
  2. The accidental Muslim among the two decides to teach the other one a lesson and tells the local cleric that the Christian has desecrated the holy Quran
  3. Using the mosque loud speakers the Cleric begins to gather troops (usually economically under privileged or job less who have got nothing else to do)
  4. A mob gets together with only one objective - burn and kill
  5. Police and other law enforcement authorities even with knowledge of what is brewing (they can hear the loudspeakers like any one else) decide to perform a disappearing act (something that they have turned into an art form)
  6. Cleric urges on, the mob burns and kills
  7. The Christian who is the target is either killed or arrested
  8. The court convicts the offenders and they rot in Jail, or the case is thrown out for lack of evidence
  9. In both cases, when released and returning to their homes, they are killed by pious henchmen of the cleric who started this in the first place
  10. Christians have been collectively taught a lesson to be submit
Issue of Blasphemy is not a new one but the script that I wrote above was given state approval during the reign of military dictator General Zia. This has been used against Christians and Muslims belonging to minority faiths, and in some cases against Muslims who dare teach liberal views (a Muslim lecturer at the Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad fell victim to a similar plot for opposing a group of students belong to a political party with certain religious leaning).

I must underline that whole issue of blasphemy is a complex and multi-faceted one and should not be looked at as such. But one this is for sure that the Villain-in-Chief in this story and others is primarily the local cleric who incites religious hatred, holds the key to getting violent zealots together and in the end blesses the cold blooded murderers as the warriors of Islam. The person who holds central responsibility for the deaths and destruction these conflicts cause is the Cleric who always slips away in the aftermath.

Name of the character who holds responsibility for Gojra has been reported to be one Qari Latif, local Cleric who incited the mob and led the attacks. For as long as these Qari Latif's are allowed to get away unscathed more Gojras will happen. Now that the senior officials in Punjab government have acknowledged that the desecration incidence never happened lets make sure that Qari Latif is arrested, charged and punished in accordance with laws and made an example for others likes him.

Islam guarantees equal human rights to the minorities living under its protections. Lets stop Qari Latifs of this world from maligning my religion for their personal gains.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your assessment. The problem lies in Pakistan's high illiteracy rate, as long as majority of the population gets their knowledge from revengeful and hate mongering religious figures nothing is going to change and I'm sure such atrocities are going to continue unfortunately. - a Pakistani Christian living in the United States