“It is outrageous that the Google has uploaded Part-2 of the same (blasphemous) movie (Innocence of Muslims) on the site (YouTube), which is more derogatory and blasphemous in nature,” claimed an article published this Wednesday on the same page, advocating continuing the ban on video-sharing giant, declaring that “with the present content (it) is likely to create law and order and security issues”. A letter at the editorial pages of The Frontier Post’s Thursday edition gave the same tidings and made the same demand.
Despite my best efforts neither could I trace the source of this ‘vital’ piece of (dis)information nor could I found it anywhere else on the Internet. Being a Muslim and a journalist, my interest in this explosive item was obvious. The painful images of violence over the issue in September last remain fresh and our access to a substantial source of information remains restricted, not to make an effective statement of our protest but for some unreasonable reasons.
We Muslims as a whole are ultra-emotional. Attack our pride, however pretentious and hollow it may be, and we are ready to shed blood. This is more true of us Pakistanis. And, if there is some case of profanity against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), be it genuine or fabricated, we are simply walking bombs ready to explode anytime. Unfortunately, here in our Land of the Pure, there is no dearth of professionals who have dedicated their lives to making such human bombs and then exploding them at the right time for their personal and political gains.
Any incidence of blasphemy and misuse of freedom of expression by anyone for this purpose is one of the most abhorrent and condemnable acts that must be condemned by all, but sanity must not be lost while doing so. Whenever some miscreant in the West ridicules Islam, violence is unleashed in almost all Muslim countries. While in most of other Muslim countries the reaction is often spontaneous, in Pakistan it is invariably politically motivated.
I hope most of the people remember that at least 18 people had died in last year’s the violent protests against the blasphemous movie across the Muslim world, excluding Pakistan. Ours was a special case. We marked September 21, 2012 as Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (PBUH) with the death of 20 people across the country in clashes between a Muslim police and enraged Muslim demonstrators. More than 200 were wounded; and cinemas, banks, vehicles and fuel stations were torched and markets were vandalised. In material terms, we inflicted on ourselves a national damage of Rs76 billion. The day was observed at the order of an unpopular government, which just tried to get some political solace by championing the ‘cause’ itself, after one person had already been killed and dozens injured in the preceding weeks of similar cross-country violent protests led by scores of regular hatemongers as well as not-so-religious political opportunists.
Any careless reaction or thoughtless display of rage fulfills the blasphemer’s agenda – self-infliction of harm by the targeted community. The intention of the filmmaker, who showed a maligned understanding of Muslims, may also have been to show how ‘unreasonable’ Muslims are and to push the buttons that would cause them to demonstrate that unreasonableness. He succeeded in this too. Over past few years the amount of blasphemy seems to have spiked, apparently for the same reason that Muslims are so ignorant that they would fall in any trap so easily. From the satanic Salman Rushdie to devil Danish cartoonist Kurt Vestergaard, to lunatic US pastor Terry Jones, to Egyptian rascal Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the list of blasphemers is long.
This is not to say that Muslims must accept it as such and do nothing about desecration of their religion. Reverence for Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is an article our faith, but preaching that violence is the only way to save Islam from such malicious attacks is both disgusting and criminal. Instead of doing things that further complicate the predicament, we Muslims should be proactive and adopt the ways which help us solve this recurring problem.
The reprehensible movie, for example, would have died its natural death but it became an international hit, thanks to Muslims who marketed it globally. A better idea would have been to produce mature and effective rebuttals, take up the matter at diplomatic level with greater unity and engage in dialogue with the general non-Muslim populace to make them understand the mischief.
Hate always fails while love and understanding solves even the trickiest trouble. Saudi Gazette reported on April 23 that former Dutch Islamophobe and far-right politician Arnoud Van Doorn visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah to pray and say sorry for becoming part of a sacrilegious film. Doorn was among the Freedom Party leaders who produced the blasphemous film, Fitna. He had reverted to Islam a month before after an extensive study about the religion and the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The tolerance of disbelief – including a rejection of prophethood by disbelievers - was pioneered by Muslims, but now we have become increasingly intolerant. This is why our minorities are not secure against our misplaced vengeance. Taking revenge from a Christian or Hindu, or follower of any other religion, for the misconduct of some lunatic who shares his/her creed is despicable. The thoughtless emotional response to the sensitive issue of blasphemy and extreme politicisation of the issue has prevented much-needed reforms in our laws on the matter which have too frequently been misused in the recent past.
We often highlight our across-the-board respect for all the prophets, but don’t we too often take a delight in desecrating the religious figures of non-prophetic religions? Many of you would have enjoyed our popular stage actors making a mockery of the Hindu deities like Kali Mata, Hanuman etc. This is no justification for the ill treatment to our religious personalities by others; rather, it is just to point out that we cannot hide our own dirt by mere pointing fingers at others’ blemished linens; that we need to look at ourselves first and wash our own.n