News of a cleric who puts a cash-incentive on the murder of Aasiya Bibi comes via Pakistaniat (by Adil Najam). This man is not an exponent of radical political Islam or Islamist, he is a traditional Barelvi cleric and a prominent and highly respected khateeb of a historic mosque in Peshawar:
Yousuf Qureshi has never met or seen Aasiya. Yet, his heart is so full of hatred that he is willing to give anyone, even you, Rs. 500,000 to kill her. By the way, he does not seem to hold you in very high esteem either; he believes that you will be willing to commit murder for him for less than US$6,000. And if you will not, he calls upon the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) to do the killing for him. For around the price of a new Suzuki Mehran VX he wants you to commit murder, make three children orphans, and take a human life. All reports suggest that he is mighty proud of what he is trying to do!
Another headline grabs top spot on the BBC News website, however this one I had a premonition of a couple of days ago, or you could say access into some insider insight about.
As someone concerned with Islamic terrorism and interested in South Asian affairs I’m a member of various yahoogroups which cover these issues. One such yahoogroup is called Socialist Pakistan News and has many interesting discussions largely from the left-leaning progressive side of Pakistani politics.
Sherry Rahman, a famous Pakistani politician belonging to the PPP, or Peoples Party of Pakistan posted a message regarding efforts undergone by a few brave members to limit the damage done to hapless people booked under the blasphemy laws. Recently a Christian woman was sentenced to death under these laws and Islamic parties are clamouring for her execution. Every year many people are killed by Islamic religious fanatics in Pakistan for blasphemy.
A Muslim woman living in Europe talks of her experiences with markers of Islam and her reasons for affiliating herself with Muslimness alongside equally powerful reasons for distancing herself from its overt expressions in the public sphere.
Two female French students have made a film of themselves strolling through the streets of Paris in a niqab, bare legs and hot pants as a critique of France’s recently passed law, which has banned the wearing of the niqab in public.
The French ban is unconstitutional and a disgrace and Mr Sarkozy is a nasty populist politician of the lowest order.
But it is not difficult to see how this kind of protest could easily be turned around and used to protest the forced wearing of niqab and patriarchy in Muslim societies. Can anyone imagine this kind of protest being allowed to go ahead without causing “deep offence” and crimininalisation of the protesters in Saudi Arabia? Or even the streets of Whitechapel, for that matter?
Followers of the Ahmadiyya movement (known as Ahmadis) are often victims of religious bigotry. They have long been popular targets of religious extremists and have suffered a great deal, especially in Pakistan where they have been continuously persecuted. Like most commentators on this site I utterly deplore such actions and I defend the right of Ahmadis to freedom of religion.
I personally spent a number of years studying Ahmadi literature, meeting their leaders and discussing their beliefs. In this article I intend to explain their beliefs, their attitudes towards other faiths and their political views.
"Kill a Qadiyyani and doors to heaven will be open for you"
A police investigation was launched last month, after police saw leaflets being handed out calling on Muslims to murder Qadiyanis, a derogatory term for Ahmadiyya Muslims, who are an evangelical sect of Islam.
It is believed that the literature is linked to a terrorist attack in May, in which 92 worshippers were murdered by Taliban militants in Pakistan, where the government officially regards Ahmadiyya Islam as blasphemy.
Having made no arrests in connection with the incident, Kingston police are appealing who may have seen the people handing out inflammatory literature outside the Jane Norman store in Clarence Street.
A teenage Ahmadiyya girl, who did not want to be named, said she was “shaken and stirred” after being handed a leaflet written in Urdu saying “Kill a Qadiyyani and doors to heaven will be open for you”.
Irshad Manji attempts to re-centre the raw, emotional polarised sentimentalism of Park51 here. The underlying point is that offence or sensitivity is not a basis for what can or cannot be built nor for criticising aspects of religion or religious customs.
The Park51 debate has now spilled over into the doomed territory of visceral offence taking. The opportunity to have this debate on issues such as the American Constitution’s provisions for freedom of religion and Islam’s obligation to universal principles in the USA may have been lost for good. Nevertheless Manji takes a crack at articulating a set of questions and demands expected of Imam Rauf should Park51 ever get built.
But for all the restless offense I feel, I step back and force myself to think. As I wrestle with the issues, I realize that an opportunity exists for something more constructive than anger.
following an unusually thoughtful broadcast last week by richard dawkins (he’s obviously trying to take on board how much his militancy turns people off by some of the pleas he made on behalf of sacred texts as fine language, cultural literacy and so on) i am grappling again with some of the issues raised by faith schools in the critical thinking debate. dawkins, as per usual, lumped all faith schools together as a) proponents of segregation (for which there is some justification) and b) closers, rather than openers of young minds – the segment in which he, somewhat exasperatedly, grappled with the islamic school science class with an apparent 100% rejection of evolution was a powerful statement. however, also as per usual, he implied (by saying that he “worried that”) this was inevitable in a situation where the parents’ wishes about what they wanted their children exposed to overruled the presumed human rights of children to make up their own mind about what they thought was interesting or worthwhile. this argument was given short shrift by a catholic educationalist from northern ireland, who told him he was simply imposing his own expectations over those of the parents concerned; i personally thought they struggled with the editing a little if they were seeking to show that the wishes of parents were unreasonable; this wasn’t the strongest argument i’ve ever seen against faith schools. in my opinion, they’d have done better to concentrate on the ethos of these schools as exclusivist and contrary to “community cohesion”, but then again, what do i know?
I am amazed that the Park 51 Community Centre or the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” debate in still chundering on, with no end in sight, despite the paucity of cogent arguments on why it should be opposed by those who oppose it.
Alex Massie’s comment on the “Ground Zero Mosque” is spot on:
One of the recurring arguments against the plan is that, however well-intentioned its backers may be, it represents an unfortunate and unnecessary “provocation”. Even if those involved mean no harm and don’t mean to “provoke” they should have been wise enough to appreciate that their proposal was bound to provoke a hostile reaction. Which means they should think again.
In his bestselling book America Alone, the Canadian writer Mark Steyn fantasises about the state of Europe in 2020. The Islamists have stormed to power right across the continent. No English pub can sell alcohol. Holland’s gay clubs have been relocated to San Francisco. And every French woman is forced to be veiled.
The fashion police, at least, have already arrived, a decade early and without any help from Islamists. But rather than forcing women to wear the burqa or niqab, their job is to force them not to. Earlier this month Italian police in the northern city of Novara fined a Tunisian immigrant, Amel Marmouri, €500 for being veiled in a post office. Belgian police are likely to be doing the same after the Brussels parliament outlawed the burqa. France expects to pass a similar law by the autumn. Holland could follow suit. The Spanish city of Lleida has forbidden the burqa in public buildings; the Minister of Labour and Immigration Celestino Corbacho has hinted at a national ban. In Canada, the Quebec government has drafted an anti-burqa law. Australian politicians are demanding one too.