Daily Archives: May 24, 2010

The argument of violence

Salman Latif has sent us his rational views on the Facebook saga. I am glad that PTH is attracting the wise and the sanguine. Yet, we seem to have invoked the ire of our zealous compatriots who think that by opposing the ban, we are (God forbid) guilty of blasphemy. We condemn the myopia of those who want to provoke Muslims and display lack of respect for the Prophet (pbuh) who is central to our belief system. At the same time, PTH holds that banning of information flow in the 21st century is not acceptable. Today it is ‘blasphemy’ excuse, tomorrow it will be something else. There are other ways of protesting and we should employ them before resorting to blanket banning of the Internet. (Raza Rumi)

Guess what? The cartoon controversy is back. And this time with a bang because of the celebration of a ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ on May 20th in reaction to the death threats received by certain cartoonists. The day has drawn a lot of noise, more so because of the Muslim reaction than perhaps the original participation of those supporting the cause.

One is yet again to witness a very interesting phenomenon in the Muslim protests against the said act. Not only is it a vivid picture of the average Muslim take, it also is a clear answer to the fake claims made by pseudo-intellects about the moderation of Muslim Ummah. The issue has sparked a grand controversy within Muslim circles, both home and abroad, with eager preachers forwarding bulk of messages condemning and often, abusing it.

Intriguingly enough, this time, the axe has grinded on Facebook.  Apparently, the cause of such sudden resentment among FB’s Muslim users is over its refusal to remove certain pages inciting the message. Much to the chagrin of Muslims, FB’s policy allows for a freedom of speech and so would not take a page off on the grounds quoted by the followers of Islam. And our Muslim brethren have then resorted to the regular course – boycotting FB, claiming that’d bring it million-dollar repercussions in revenue and inflict a heavy loss. A rather misplaced hope considering a recent history where Telenor suffered a boycott on the same grounds in Pakistan though coupled with a much more violent backlash by Pakistanis and yet again became a mainstream mobile operator company within no time. No doubt FB would have had it offices burnt had there been any within Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Islamism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Media, Pakistan, Politics, public policy

The Ostrich Syndrome: A Teacher’s Perspective

By  Nabiha Meher Shaikh

As someone constantly exposed to the so-called “youth” of this country, I do believe I have some insight and some valid criticism of the recent ban on facebook, which, ostensibly, has to do with blasphemous content.
 
Firstly, what is the “youth” of this country? And why are they lumped into a monolithic entity? Why is it assumed that they are all one and the same when their realities are different in many ways. To assume that our “youth” is living air-conditioned lives, constantly logged on to the internet, chatting away etc. is purely delusional. The truth is, the vast majority of the “youth” are very poor and cannot access websites. The “youth” is actually the majority of our population. And we are constantly trying to box them into holes on what they should be, what they should do, how they should think, how they should behave, killing off any diversity that exists… this has lead to an increase in intolerance which I have noticed in my less than three decades of existence, despite the fact that sensitivity towards women’s issues has increased as compared to my generation (I’m only talking about educated people here though. I do acknowledge that the ground realities for women have become even more horrific). Sounds contradictory? It’s not. Read on. It’s all connected to religion and wanting to desperately prove that their religion is not barbaric towards women, a criticism that has very valid roots since, let’s face it, the status of women in the Muslim world is far from decent. So even though I see an increase in gender sensitivity, I also see an increase in linear thinking, mostly intolerant, reeking of a severe persecution complex (“the world is out to get us and destabilise Islam!”), which is very, very dangerous. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Islamism, Pakistan, youth

Death of Collective Wisdom

Another exclusive post from Ahmad Nadeem for PTH – comments are welcome (Raza Rumi)

“Is there a competition going on in Pakistan between institution to earn shame and notoriety for their nation?” my colleague asked me casually while we were having some drinks and watching a news television. “We are on that path for last 40years”, I answered stubbornly. Can there anything such shameful to force you behave that stubborn over your national pride? There is, hold your breath, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, the top body of media and custodian of ‘freedom of speech and civil liberties’, in a press release issued by its Secretary General, Mr Shamsul Islam Naz, has “officially’ appreciated the blocking of the Facebook Website.

This was followed by the Lahore High Court orders of a blanket ban on entire social media website depriving 2.5 million Pakistani’s an access to major internet services.  Just because there was ‘one page’ out of millions, set by a silly American kid to make cartoons of  Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The same could have been blocked instead, but things work differently in Pakistan. A decision has to be popular rather than sane, the illiterate bearded men on streets with sticks and guns ought to be satisfied. Continue reading

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Filed under Judiciary, Justice, Media, Pakistan