By: Asad Badruddin
The battle for blasphemy reform is not over. It needs a change of strategy. Currently it has consisted of people demanding a change in the laws but to little effect. There is a need to get various influential lobbies and stakeholders involved. One of them is the mosque.
Debate and discussion must take place in the mosque.
The mosque, as a center of ideas, has been severely under-utilised by reformist Pakistanis which is unfortunate. I’m sure some of us go to the mosque once a week or so. It is time we should engage our maulvis into debate and discussion. Many of them will not change the way they think but some of them will, and that is how mindsets will start to change.
Find a common platform
Terms like secularism and human rights, will not work because regardless of intentions these seem ‘Western’. Urdu must be embraced as medium of communication, because English, besides not being understood correctly by a majority of the people, still gives the impression of elitism.
Principle or power?
Even if one has a progressive agenda, there is an apparent issue of class within this debate, which has been ignored by most commentators. Religion presents a platform where the lower- middle class find themselves for the first time powerful enough to impose an issue on the English speaking, Pajero driving, whisky drinking elite of this country. This is as much an issue of power as it is of principle.
Mosques everywhere unite
This isn’t just a localised battle confined to the conservative Pashtun or Punjabi belt or some hardline madrassas in Karachi. This is a transcontinental struggle that must be fought in madrassas and mosques in the Middle East, Africa, and England and wherever such ideas find home.
In this interconnected world, who knows when the next billionaire sheikh tries to atone for his sins by giving a grant to some firebrand religious organization?
Many of the religious organisations that are supporting the current law are funded by heavy pockets from the Gulf. The Pakistani diaspora today extends throughout the world and needs to take the lead in battling these ideologies. For those of you who agree with me, if you are in Dubai or London and hear people supporting such measures you should take them to task for it.
When the war against militancy started, did people think that there would be no casualties?
People like Dr Muhammed Farooq, Maulana Naeemi and Salmaan Taseer, who have raised their voices against this madness, have been killed and they are unlikely to be the last ones to meet this fate. It is time we braced ourselves for the future because many more lives will be lost before we rid ourselves of intolerance.
We owe it to those who have already fallen to stand for truth and justice for all, regardless of the consequences of our decisions.