Posts Tagged ‘ minorities ’

Help Wanted: Ex-Muslim Seeking White Liberal Allies

Hi, are you liberal?

Do you stand by the minorities?

Are you a friend of the underdog, an ally of the marginalized?

There is a minority of the minority in town that just won’t trend on Twitter.

Hello, I’m a brown, gay, bi-gender, ex-Muslim atheist. Please notice me.

Like a lot of things, ‘privilege’ is a spectrum. Muslims are a marginalized community in Europe and America, often subjected to dangerous stereotypes. I supported Tahira Ahmed, the Muslim woman refused an unopened can of diet coke aboard a flight for “security reasons”. I yelled at Richard Dawkins – a person who I usually admire – on Twitter, for his paranoid rants against a Muslim child arrested for making a clock.

I stand up for Muslims wherever they face persecution, but they don’t stand up for me. Oh, and if you object to my use of the word “they”, notice that I’m making use of the same language you’d use for white people. You must recognize the context in which I speak.

In my part of the world – the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – Muslims are not an oppressed minority. They are the ruling class. If they find out who I am, I would be legally executed, if not lynched – not even because I’ve said anything blasphemous, but because I’m an ex-Muslim, an “apostate”.

Islam here is not a counter-cultural phenomenon. It is the writ of the establishment. It is the bane of the minorities, dissidents, freethinkers and liberals such as yourself who refuse to abide by the “official” customs. Things like hijab, niqab, dupatta or any form of pardah are not an “identity” here; they are garments either imposed by law, or enforced by sanctioning the social harassment of women who refuse to wear them.

People like myself, dear friends of mine, have fled to countries like UK, Canada and the United States. These ‘blasphemers’ and ‘apostates’ of the East, the first-hand witnesses of the effects of unmitigated Islamic power, often become ‘Islamophobes’ in the West. Why wouldn’t they be fearful of a religion that has been used to justify all forms of cruelty against them?

‘Good’ Atheists like CJ Werlerman, wouldn’t know the difference. We have often been accused of being “native informants”. We are guilty of not putting the full weight of our support behind a community that treats us with derision, not just in Pakistan, but abroad as well.  It is more than just ‘possible’ for a group to be oppressed in some way, and be an oppressor in another.

Who’s defending us? Werlerman? Lean? Greenwald? Ben Affleck?

Many of my people are locked in accidental alliances with the neo-cons, the anti-Muslim bigots – the likes of Pamela Gellar and Pat Condell – both of whom I intensely dislike. Again, what choice do we have? You defend, and even celebrate Islam as a courtesy to its marginalized adherents in your countries, but that ideology is poison to us; and our only consolation is that not all Muslims follow it uniformly.

Why would you ask us to make peace with a scripture that refers to my kind as the “worst of all beasts”? Why would you want me to get along with a religion that throws Sodom and Gomorrah in my face when I try to speak up for LGBTQ rights? Why would you expect me, as a feminist, to not condemn a book that justifies domestic abuse of women, denial of their equal inheritance rights, and the practice of having a woman’s testimony being valued as only half that of a man’s.

Would you like us, the “native informants”, to pretend that there is no culture of shunning and mistreating ex-Muslims in the Muslim community, so not to intensify anti-Muslim prejudice that is abundant in Europe and America? Do you want us all to go down quietly, because the needs of the many (Muslims) outweigh the needs of the few (ex-Muslims)?

What about my friend, Irtaza, who committed suicide because his Muslim family and community wouldn’t accept him as an atheist?

You expect us to join you in the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry, and I want to. I get you. But in the struggle against anti ex-Muslim bigotry, we stand alone. We remain unacknowledged.

People deserve advocacy. People deserve not to be reduced to their religious, racial or gender identities. But bad ideas and cultures deserve no sympathy. Neither must the baby be thrown out with the bathwater, nor should the bathwater be rescued along with the baby.

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Western Liberals Hate Persecuted Minorities in Islamic Countries

The title says it all. I’ll elaborate..

Ayaan Hisri Ali was only 5 years old when she had her clitoris snipped off in the name of a certain religion. A self-made woman, she pulls herself out of a trouble existence in Somalia, and blooms as an activist and a writer in America. She became a politician in Holland, and dedicates her life to exposing the misogyny inspired by religion, as well as other human rights violations.

The white feminist brigade now regard her as an Islamophobe. It’s a pity because, really, what has Islam ever done to her to deserve such ‘irrational hate’?

In fact, the greatest Islamophobes known to Western liberals are not just hicks from the bible belt, but the same ex-Muslims, those persecuted dissidents, who sawed off their feet to run to the more enlightened parts of the world; places where Islam would no longer be used against them. All “blasphemers” of the East with bounties on their heads, eventually become “Islamophobes” in the West.

Islamophobia is conceived as a form of racism, which is easily among the daftest ideas anyone has ever come up with. Islam is not a race. It is an idea, or a set of ideas, that has no rights.

Muslims deserve respect as people, as one can never truly deduce from one’s “Muslim” label what he/she believes. Muslims are, like everybody else, an extremely diverse group with a diverse set of beliefs.

Western liberals have already adorned the Holy Pope with a thorny crown, due to Christianity’s propensity to inspire racism, homophobia and misogynism. No liberal’s heart aches for this blatant Christophobia because many years ago, they decided that Christianity is not immune from criticism and must be called out for all the nonsense it inspires.

How American liberals and secularists deal with Christianity, is how Pakistani liberals and secularists deal with Islam; with eye-rolls, impatience, skepticism. The mention of the word leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many a non-Muslim here, as they recall the injustices they’ve suffered in its name.

Every effort by activists against minority abuses in Tunisia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any Islamic country – is effectively thwarted by quoting scripture. In Pakistan national assembly, a Domestic Violence Bill was shelved because it contradicted Islamic values, earlier in 2012. The bill was sent into a coma as women activists screamed for justice outside the Parliament.

Do you have any idea what it feels like, to live in a country where Islam is a constant bane for women’s freedom and equality…..and then listen to Western liberals being apologists for the ideology that’s used to rubbish all our struggles for minority rights, women rights and even social justice in general?

To come home defeated from a protest, as a mullah-ridden parliament shoots down another bill for social equality in Islam’s name….and then hear some white feminist say dumb shit like, “Islam is not the problem! Patriarchy is!”

Yes, but what of the systems, the ideologies that are reinforcing and inspiring this patriarchy? Patriarchy is not some mystical dark energy that oozes out from soil, it is a social setup maintained and upheld by certain engines. Old, organized religion is, beyond a reasonable doubt, one of those engines.

As for the Muslims, it is incorrect to stereotype them all as oppressed. But it should be noted that a large number of them have been stripped of some basic rights, including the freedom of belief and self-expression.

Most Muslims do not feel oppressed, because they never use this right anyway. What they believe and express is already in line with what the Islamic societies demand. It is the non-Muslims, the ex-Muslims, the secularists, dissidents, who feel the true sting of not having this right. And when they complain, they have their voices drowned out…every…single…fucking…time, by the Muslim majority dismissing the notion of any unusual oppression in their society.

Western Liberals, as a courtesy to the Muslim minorities in their countries, have fallen in bed with an ideology that is the complete antithesis of their own secular ideas and liberal agenda.

You don’t have to be a “Mussie-hater” to be critical of the Islamic ideology and its effects on our world. No more than you have to hate smokers to acknowledge the risks of cigarettes to our health.

The 11-year old blasphemer

Apparently, the glory of Islam has been threatened by an 11-year old girl with Down’s Syndrome.

A Christian girl has been jailed by the police, under intense pressure from the locals, for allegedly burning pages of the Noorani Qaida. She was severely beaten up, along with her mother and sister. Some homes of local Christian residents were burned, and the Christian population has left the area.

You think this is just satire? No, this is a real report. This comes just a few weeks after a psychiatric patient was brutally tortured and burned alive by a mob in Bahawalpur for, guess what, blasphemy.

So here’s the situation. The Hindus are leaving Pakistan in droves. Christians are being jailed and killed. Ahmadis and Shias are being slaughtered. Women are being abused, raped and paraded around the streets naked. And atheists and agnostics..well, they don’t even exist (Shhh!).

We are a country made exclusively for circumcised dicks. Not penises, dicks. Which means that if you’re a non-Muslim or a woman, tough luck. Minorities who dare strive for equal rights are often shooed away with the retort, “This is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Only Islamic rules will apply here!”

Oh, our bad! We should’ve chosen to be born in a secular country instead. Silly us! Now we must shut up and pay the penalty for being the non-Islamic citizens inhabitants of an Islamic Republic.

Today, I’m more frightened and exhausted than I have ever been in years.

I’m tired of gambling with my life every time I speak up against the unending, and largely ignored, injustices against this country’s minorities. We’re not being threatened by a handful of fanatics. It’s never a single crazed person who attacks Pakistani Christians or shias or Ahmadis. It’s always mobs. Always well-funded organizations that seem to be invisible to the authorities, even when operating in broad daylight. The constitution itself is against us.

I simply do not have the energy to tie this post up in a funny or thought-provoking way.

Hajj: Is it the State’s Business?

In a country where Hindus are not allowed to register their marriages, and all non-Muslims live under constant threat of the blasphemy law, government-sponsored hajj is not an issue that takes priority. But it is certainly an issue worth looking into.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs Pakistan conducts a lucky-draw every year, from which thousands of Muslim citizens are selected. These lucky winners are sent on a state-sponsored pilgrimage, or hajj, to Saudi Arabia…

..which I personally find is a ridiculous waste of money for a country cursed with ever-present economic instability.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is obligatory for all Muslims who can afford it. Even from an Islamic perspective, there’s no real necessity to sponsor such expensive trips, because hajj is not even an obligation for the poor! Those who can afford the trip can pay their own way. After all, doesn’t spending your own hard, earned money on hajj make the endeavour far more noble?

You wouldn’t dream of sending a Pakistani Christian to the Vatican city for papal blessings on the government’s expense. Can you imagine a Pakistani Sikh applying for government sponsorship to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, or a Hindu asking the government for money to attend the Khumb Mela? Is it too much for the Pakistani non-Muslims to demand the same privileges that are readily offered to the Muslims?

Not to mention that this extravaganza is being funded by Muslim and non-Muslim tax-payer alike. A part of the money that I, as an Atheist, pay to the government is being spent on an Islamic event that I do not believe in, and does not benefit me in any way. In fact, it does not really benefit anyone.

I don’t need to be taxed for your religious affairs. I’m already paying enough by being discriminated against every single day by the society and the government, and I dare say, it’s sufficient.

A Lesser Pakistani

Have you wondered what it’s like being a non-Islamic person living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?

There’s no street in this country you can walk in without having Islam rubbed into your face. Muslims barely notice that any more, but non-Muslims do. Ironically, many Pakistani Islamists would still argue that the problem with this country is too little adherence to Islamic values. Continue reading

Pakistani Humanitarian – Asma Jahangir

This is an angry blog. Most of the posts I submit are spiteful, passionate rants against religion and how it’s at open war with humanity and all that is good. How it replaces real morals with its own pseudo-morals, and how it has become a tool for gaining swift popularity (if you don’t believe me , ask Talat Hussain, who understands the importance of this cheap tactic really well). Those who follow me regularly know only too well the searing hate and rancor that oozes out of the very pixels of one’s screen when my words appear on it.

But a couple of days ago, I found hope and sanguinity. Somewhere within the higher echelons of our justice system, I saw the tiniest sparkle of rationality. The sparkle came from our new President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Asma Jahangir. Continue reading

The God of Many Trumps the God of Few

On the 14th of August, 1947, Muslims of the South-Asian subcontinent saw an end to persecution on religious grounds. The tireless efforts of Jinnah and the Muslim league had given birth to a homeland where Muslims would no longer have to worry about being overwhelmed in every government decision by the Hindu majority.

If there’s one thing that the pre-1947 era has taught us, is that democracy is never as black-and-white as saying, “Majority is authority”, because that’s comparable to two wolves and a sheep trying to decide what to have for lunch. Jinnah, a staunch secularist himself, was well aware of such a conundrum.

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” – Jinnah, Address to the Constituent Assembly

But then things changed. Jinnah died, and Pakistan found itself being hijacked by Islamists exploiting the same majoritarian system of rule that had driven Muslims out of the united India in the first place. We became that which we have been vilifying throughout our history. About how Muslims, being a minority in the subcontinent, were constantly having their voices drowned out by the majority of Hindus, failing to notice how their own actions aren’t much better.

Pakistanis Muslims, quite unconvincingly, attempt to rationalize their fear of equality and egalitarianism by claiming that Islam defines the best system of governance, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike…and that it must be imposed upon non-Muslims for their own good, whether they like it or not. According to them, the problem isn’t Islamization of the constitution, but rather the incorrect implementation of Islam.

What they fail to realize is that not everybody shares their belief about Islam being the most wonderfully wonderful system in the world. The religious minorities have their own dreams, aspirations and ideas which cannot be cast aside so coldly.

So for those of you who believe that Islam is a fair system that provides equal rights to non-Muslims, think again. All of the following laws have been borrowed directly from shariah. Fellows, I give you the 1973 constitution:

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Article 2: “Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan..”

Why not  a “Christian” Republic? Or a “Hindu” Republic? Since when did it become fair to impose the religious beliefs of the majority upon the minority through the state constitution? This clause alone is highly discriminatory, because no matter what the government does from this article onwards, does not change the fact that Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis etc, shall be the non-Islamic elements of an Islamic Republic, or in other words, second class citizens.

Article 227: “No law repugnant to Islamic injunctions can be enforced..”

Muslims would likely find nothing wrong with such a stipulation. But the problem is that a lot of things offend Islam. Islam views non-believers with contempt, believing them to be fodder for the fires of hell. And any laws appeasing the non-Muslims are just as abominable in the light of Islam.

Jew (or “yahud” in Urdu”) is almost shot forth as a common abuse among Muslims. So is the word “kafir”. Sexual liberty has no place in Islam, regardless of whether the act of congress is/is not against the personal morals of the ones indulging in it (so inevitably, what a man does with his penis or woman with her vagina, through mutual consent, subsequently becomes a business of the state government). Alcohol is banned, which is just as ludicrous.

How absurd is it that many Pakistani Muslims need to avoid sex and alcohol not out of fear of their God, but out of fear of man and his constitution! Does that really help make them better Muslims?

Article 41 and 91: “The President of Pakistan (41) and Prime Minister (91) must be Muslims”

In other words, you may very well have a nobel-prize winning, triple-PHD holder, philanthropic Atheist struggling to run for the the position of Prime Muslim, but he’ll get kicked aside to make way for a considerably less competent, and possibly corrupt, Muslim.

Article 203 D:Sharia Courts and their verdicts superimposed on the country’s elected institutions

Article 295 (A, B, C): The Blasphemy Laws

This law’s a veritable nightmare for non-Muslims due to it’s high abuse potential. All that is required for a person to be hanged for blasphemous actions is the word of one “reliable” witness. Ever since the law was first instated by Zia-ul-Haq, it has been exploited on many an occasion by Muslims to settle personal scores with their non-Muslim enemies.

Also note that there’s no corresponding law for the protection of minorities against blasphemous remarks. You’re free to laugh at Hanuman, just as you’re free to make fun of the religious icons of Sikhs…but a peep out of you about Muhammad can have you killed.

Qanun-e-Shahadat (Law of Evidence): The testimony of a single Muslim man is considered equal to that of two Muslim women or two non-Muslims.

No unprejudiced person can look at that law and still deny that the constitution discriminates against the religious minorities.

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Those are only a few of the major problems faced by non-Muslims in Pakistan under an Islamic rule. At the moment, I won’t go into details about the horrors faced by women. The condition of Pakistani women has improved somewhat since the Women Protection Bill was introduced in 2006 (despite fierce opposition by Muslim clerics), but they still continue to be openly discriminated against not just on the community level, but by their very constitution.

Pakistani non-Muslims, throughout Pakistan’s history, have faced forced conversions, marriages forcefully annulled, death threats (and even killings) for converting out of Islam, and clear discrimination in court houses where the Law of Evidence holds sway.

And what’s worse? The most oppressive law-makers are also the ones most thoroughly convinced that they’re being unduly magnanimous when it comes to dishing out rights to the religious minorities.

Pakistan’s “reason” was to allow Muslims a separate homeland where they could practice their religion without fear of persecution. A secular state won’t change that. The only difference it would make, shall be the glorious fact that all citizens of state, regardless of their religious convictions, would receive equal rights.

Perhaps that scares the selfish, egoistic Muslim minds of this country who seek dominance instead of equality, but secularization is precisely what humanity expects from us.