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Blasphemy

There are several sides of the story surrounding the recent gruesome case of lynching across the border: 

One, that blasphemy laws wherever they are in vogue are not only primitive, regressive and antediluvian but don’t even stand scrutiny when viewed in the light of Islamic law and jurisprudence. If anything, there are no known unimpeachable instances of the prophet of Islam ever having sanctioned or even condoned the killing of someone who had committed blasphemy.

Two, the fact remains that the gruesome act involving the lynching of a Sri Lankan national in Pakistan on the grounds of the latter having been involved in acts of blasphemy against the prophet cannot, just cannot, be condoned by the civilised world even if the accusation of blasphemy slapped on him were to be based on evidence on the ground. However, it redounds to immense credit to the Pakistani society that the entire society has risen in revolt against those who were involved in this savage act of lynching of the SL- national. And the credit is also due to the government at the helm of affairs there that in a major operation against the culprits, it has arrested more than120 of those who are suspected of having been involved in this ghastly act, including some of the main suspects, even as the Prime minister there has described the incident as a “day of shame for Pakistan”.

Thirdly, back home how would the government have reacted in case such an incident was reported from India? Well, the answer to this poser doesn’t have to be guessed or “conjectured”, considering that enough is already known in terms of how they chose to look the other way that would often times translate into providing protection to the culprits while hundreds of such grisly incidents were being reported from different parts of the country. Don’t we know how the lynching mobs here were being egged on and then shielded by those who had a vested interest in such dastardly acts being committed upon certain sections of the society only to polarise the society on religious grounds and then, come elections, reap rich electoral dividends.

Fourthly, look at the manner in which the world press and the governments across continents have come down heavily upon the country in question and its government where the recent act of lynching of a SL-national was committed. And that’s fair enough, and even expected of those who should raise their voice whenever and wherever such monstrosities involving violations of the human rights of the worst kind are committed by the marauding mobs or by the State itself upon the innocents, the helpless, the dissidents and their political adversaries.

But then aren’t we made a witness to crass hypocrisy by these selfsame champions of human rights in the “civilised world” when they turn their gaze away in certain situations as part of their “larger global interests” that blinds them to far worse acts of HR – violations being committed by the State upon its citizens who they claim “as their own”! The obvious reference here is to the hotspots in the Mid East and closer home, in the ‘highly volatile and militarised zone’ in South Asia!

Last but not the least, how should the civil society handle such issues, especially those societies where religion in its most debased, regressive form is deeply steeped into the public consciousness. In particular, how ought the State deal with those elements of the society who are besotted with the fanciful idea of propitiating their gods while committing the most grave and heinous acts of violence in the name of their particular religious faith upon those who they perceive as the ‘other’, the deviant and the devious who has gone stray. On my part, I see them as criminals who should be ostracised by the society while the State should stop pampering them in a whole lot of ways and spare none of its efforts and resources to go after them and put them in their proper place. Allowing certain groups of people entertain delusions of grandeur that derives from a supremacist view of their religious practices/faith is doomed to be an act of harakiri that would soon gobble them up, including both the society at large as well as the government at the helm of affairs in one fell swoop, should the latter choose to play footsie with them.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by M A Sofi

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