The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has distinguished itself in the recent past for being the source of bizarre judgments and little else. Its jurisdiction extending over a little piece of federal land, and being otherwise removed from normal judicial hierarchy, it has become home to petitions of all shapes and motivations – and members of the IHC have not been a discerning lot.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC – one of the judges who upheld the Mumtaz Qadri conviction – seemed hell bent on undoing all progress that judgment achieved. While hearing a petition against blasphemous content on the internet, the judge suggested that blasphemous content should be kept from viewership even if it meant shutting down access to the entirety of social media for everyone. A rather extreme suggestion; one that would find itself at home in any rally taken out by Mumtaz Qadri’s supporters.

But this is least of the honourable judge’s extremities – it only gets worse from here. Justice Siddiqui described blasphemy thus; “this is a greatest form of terrorism and people involved in this heinous act are biggest terrorists”. So it seems that according to the judge, individuals accused of blasphemy are worse than the APS Peshawar attackers, more heinous than the Sehwan bomber. This is the kind of language used to justify vigilante action, and a sitting federal judge is paying lip service to that.

One may have understood these comments as a genuine but misguided and overzealous attempt at preventing vigilante terrorism in the most causal of ways, but the honourable justice goes on to justify vigilantism even more explicitly. In his words: “this matter requires immediate attention otherwise patience of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) may run out.”

“Their patience may run out”, as if they are completely justified in their actions and their patience is a favour to the country. Justice Siddiqui shifts the blame from people like Mumtaz Qadri to people like Salmaan Taseer – the problem is not the violent murderous extremists, who are lovingly referred to as “followers of the Holy Prophet”, but the people who allow blasphemy, even perceived blasphemy to be aired.

It is undeniable that controlling the dissemination of blasphemous content can prevent vigilante actions, but that can be done without romanticising the violent vigilantes or banning the entire social media so these violent terrorists don’t get offended enough to go on a rampage.

The IHC needs to get its priorities right, from banning Valentine’s Day to morally exonerating vigilantes, the court has become the last bastion of extremist thought in a country that is moving fast towards rejecting it. We must hold on to the tiny narrative gains we make, and reject this toxic ideology at every turn.