Friday, February 17, 2017

Ehsan Rehan - US Mosque hosts celebration in honour of Pakistani killer // Pakistani Minister voices his support for Blasphemy Laws // Khaled Ahmed - The mind of the generals

NB: Extremist talk and murderous inclinations have become part and parcel of the mentality of a section of Muslim clerics, perhaps more so among those associated with south Asian communal groups. The incitement to, and glorification of murder as punishment for blasphemy is a vicious mode of communal propaganda and feeds the climate of hatred and intolerance that is now sweeping across the world, affecting many nations and religious communities. That sections of the Urdu press in India too, echo such forms of hate-speech is a matter of grave concern. This has been going on since Ayatollah Khomeini's 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses. 

Whether such Muslim clerics realise it or not, their ideas are a mirror-image of ideologies such as white racism, Hindutva, neo-Nazism, Buddhist fundamentalism in Myanmar and other varieties of hateful identity politics. The sooner peace-loving people of all faiths speak and act to rescue their respective religions from the clutches of such extremists, the better it will be for all of us - DS

Ehsan Rehan - US Mosque hosts celebration in honour of Pakistani killer
A U.S. Mosque on Sunday celebrated the death anniversary of a Pakistani man who shot and killed a sitting Governor for criticizing the country’s Blasphemy Laws. Mumtaz Qadri, who was the Governor’s bodyguard, assassinated liberal Pakistani politician and Governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer in 2011 for speaking out against Pakistan’s controversial Blasphemy laws and expressing solidarity with a Christian woman who had been accused of blasphemy. After Qadri was charged with murder by an anti-terrorism court and hanged in 2016, more than 100,000 people came out to attend his funeral.

The Gulzar E Madina Mosque in Pikesville, Maryland hosted an “Urs” in honor of the infamous killer on February 12th. Urs is a traditional commemoration usually given to Saints and Holy personages. The Mosque also advertised the event in the February 9th edition of Urdu Times, America’s most widely distributed Urdu language newspaper. The Urs or commemoration was attended by dozens of people including young children and teenagers. Event speakers included Pakistan-based Islamic singer Muhammad Ali Soharwardi, New Jersey-based Islamic scholar Syed Saad Ali and Baltimore-based Islamic cleric Ijaz Hussain among others. Pakistan-based Ali Soharwardi has been on a U.S tour for the past few weeks and performed at several events in New York and New Jersey before making his way to Maryland. Speaking at the event, an unidentified speaker said: “Whoever disrespects the Holy Prophet Muhammad is worthy of death, and even if disrespects indirectly he is still worthy of death. Even if someone asks for forgiveness it is not acceptable

Speaking at the event New Jersey-based Islamic scholar Syed Saad Ali asked the attendees why they did not take any action after the arrest of Qadri, Ali said: "Warrior Mumtaz Qadri kissed the noose in love for Prophet Muhammad When Qadri was in jail for 5 years what did we do? what effort did we make (for his release), Why did we not go where he was being held? Qadri did everything for us, and for the love of Islam and we could not even stand by him. People say Islam teaches peace…..I say Islam teaches us Ghairat (Honor) Who will now stand up?

Referring to another Blasphemy Killer, Tanveer Ahmad, Ali said: Our warrior Tanveer who is sitting in a jail in Scotland, I don’t know if someone knows or not, when that Mirzai (Ahmadi) spoke his “sacrilegious rubbish” he went there and stabbed him 27 times and the police arrested him and right now he is in a jail in Scotland. So if we just take a step forward, angels will automatically come for our help. But what Mumtaz Qadri has done is something amazing, he has surpassed all these warriors”. In March 2016, British-Pakistani man Tanveer Ahmad killed fellow British-Pakistani Asad Shah in Scotland for “disrespecting Islam”. Shah was a member of the minority Ahmadiyya Islamic sect, the Baltimore-based Islamic cleric Ijaz Hussain praised the religious freedom in the U.S. and said: “We have some freedoms here (in the U.S.) which we do not even have in other Muslim countries, this is the beauty of this country. There are some countries where we can’t even praise the prophet, we can’t celebrate the Day of Imam Hussain, this country has freedom of religion and this is the beauty of this country.” Hussain further said: "Mumtaz Qadri was not a terrorist and whoever says “We are with you O Prophet” cannot be a terrorist.”

He went on to condemn American Muslim organizations for not taking action against Blasphemers, Hussain said, “When the blasphemous film was released in the U.S, everyone was sleeping including CAIR, ISNA, ICNA and others, and now when the ban has come into effect, they all have risen up, because they are not letting Muslims come into this (so called) heaven”The speakers also collected donations which they claimed would be used to help Syrian refugees get to the U.S.

Pakistani Minister voices his support for Blasphemy Laws
Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has voiced his support for the country’s controversial Blasphemy laws. He made the comments while speaking at the ‘KhatmeNabuwat’ conference in Golra Sharif on Saturday. Speaking at the conference, Dar said: There would be no change in the blasphemy laws, as Pakistan came into being in the name of Allah and Prophet Muhammad.Pakistan was the only country whose foundation was laid on Islam and Kalma Tayyaba. There would be also no change in KhamteNabuwat laws, We are ready to sacrifice thousands of lives for the protection of these laws and we will make Pakistan a sanctuary of IslamHe further said: Pakistan is an atomic power for a reason, and the reason is we have to lead the Islamic world, we have to stop Christians and Jews from speaking against Islam. So there is no way we can compromise on Blasphemy Laws.

The minister also thanked the custodians of the Golra shrine for organizing the conference. The annual conference is directed against the minority Ahmadi Muslims, The Ahmadis are considered heretics by mainstream Muslims and were declared “non-Muslim” under the Pakistani laws in 1974. Since then they have been the victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The laws are also often used against the country’s Christian minority to settle personal scores or to take over property. Critics say police and courts are under pressure from religious groups and lawyers who are dedicated to protecting the blasphemy laws through harsh punishments. In 2011, the then Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was gunned down by his own police security guard after he demanded that the country’s controversial blasphemy laws be reformed.

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Khaled Ahmed - The mind of the generals
Does religion form the core of the Pakistani identity and is it reconcilable with democracy and its institutional forms? From Pakistan’s army, a range of responses
Writing in the Lahore-based The Nation on January 13, ex-army chief Mirza Aslam Beg vouchsafed the following wisdom: “Unfortunately democracy [in Pakistan] has been preferred over the principles of Quran and Sunnah. No government in the past or the present one, nor the conglomeration of over two dozen religious parties, ever made any serious attempt to fortify our ideological identity. We have failed to give our children their Muslim identity, because our education system is devoid of teachings of the principles of Quran and Sunnah.” General Zia, father of the new military mind, had laid down the law in 1979: “Our present political edifice is based on the secular democratic system of the West, which has no place in Islam. In Pakistan neither anarchy nor Westernism will work. This country was created in the name of Islam and in Islam there is no provision for Western-type elections.’’

General Hamid Gul was a star soldier who got to command two of Pakistan’s top strike formations besides heading the Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). True to his faith rather than “a state not based on Islam”, he was unbothered by conscience when he reached out to the Haqqani Network and worked for a Taliban utopia in Pakistan. He bravely confessed having rigged the 1990 election as ISI chief to oust the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) from government. General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi tried to stage an Islamic coup in 1995 because Pakistan was “not based on Quran and Sunnah”. Gul found instant traction with the madrasa leaders, who in turn agreed with al Qaeda chief Aiman al-Zawahiri’s treatise proving how Pakistan was not an Islamic state despite the constitution and a supra-constitutional shariah court.

Another general favouring a Quran-and-Sunnah state was General Shahid Aziz who wrote a “confessional” book, Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tak: Ek Sipahi ki Dastan-e-Ishq-o-Junoon (2013), a soldier’s story of “passion” and “madness”, which he thought suited his religious persuasion. He was no mean soldier; he saw action in Kashmir and was trained at the National Defence University before being appointed director, military operations. As major general, he headed the analysis wing of the ISI. He was director-general, military operations (DGMO) and in 1999 planned the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif’s elected government. In 2001, after 9/11, he was chief of the general staff, a post from where most officers ascend to the top job of army chief.

The most interesting nugget in the book is Aziz’s reference to the “eye of Dajjal” (Antichrist) on the dollar bill, symbolising the grand conspiracy set in motion by the Freemasons and many powerful families in league with the American Neocons. He thought whatever was happening in the world was in line with the Jewish conspiracy outlined in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a document that surfaced in Europe in the early 20th century to rouse people into a fit of anti-Semitism and resultant Holocaust. By a strange leap of logic, he thinks that the American imperium was following the programme of world domination through a shameless pursuit of sensual pleasure. “Only the Quran stands in the way of this Satanic way of life,” he writes.

General Aziz on world order: “The world order is not running by itself, it is being run according to a secret plan by a powerful secret organisation that has first conquered global banking, followed by the media and entertainment. This plan is being worked out with the help of the United Kingdom, the IMF and the World Bank, the funded think tanks and their intellectuals, big corporations and reputable universities”. And this beauty: “The bombs that kill innocent Pakistanis in bazaars and mosques are planted by friends of America, and this terrorism is done to persuade Pakistan to embrace America more closely, allow the government to pursue pro-America policies and to alienate Pakistan from the mujahideen. But this trend of support to the killers of Muslims is open rebellion against Allah.”

A 2011 book by Robert Bonney, Pakistani journalist Tahir Malik and Tridivesh Singh Maini, Warriors after War, presented thoughts of Pakistani generals. Major-General Syed Wajahat Husain said: “Jinnah emphasised a liberal, tolerant and outward-looking progressive Pakistan. Hamid Gul is wrong on the 1948 war. Jinnah never wanted it and it was abandoned after Pakistan Army Chief General Gracey and Liaquat agreed with Jinnah to call it off. The 1965 war was our mistake. Extremism and the concept of jihad were never part of the Pakistani Army”. And a bold Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, whose advice to his children was “read Bertrand Russell”, challenged the military’s fundamental tenet of war: “The military is responsible for converting a genuine movement for an independent Kashmir into a jihad — the greatest damage that we could do and did. Both 1965 and 1971 wars were acts of stupidity”.

PS: You don’t become a general talking like that.

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