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The Seeping Culture of Intolerance

Today Pakistan has buried another leader. Yet another extra-judiciary killing of a political leader has taken place. This time, the target was the Governer of Punjab Salman Taseer. The news came as a shock that the governor was shot by his own security guard when he was on a visit Islamabad. The guard shot from a close range and surrendered himself after the carnage. The incident is thought to plunge the country in a deeper political crisis as the coalition government becomes weaker. A member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, the governor was allegedly shot due to his views on the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. He had become the hero of the group of Pakistani liberals and civil society members who demanded the repeal of blasphemy laws and release of Asia Bibi, the first woman in Pakistan to be convicted of blasphemy. The punishment for the Asia’s case managed to get attention from the international media and got supporters in both Europe and the U.S. The Vatican City had also pressed for the release of the victim.

Human rights groups claim that the blasphemy laws are misused by people to settle scores with the religious minorities. Once someone is accused of blasphemy, the situation gets risky for the accused, their family and sometimes whole villages are burned down by angry mobs. These mobs are incited by the clerics of the local mosques. Yesterday was a sad day for human rights groups who demanded the repeal of these laws when the news about the attack hit the news. There had been uproar of protests and strikes by different groups who are against the repeal of the said laws.

I was personally disturbed to see and read the comments of very progressive liberal contacts who were devoted advocates of bringing positive change in the country. The people who debated that change can be brought to improve the motherland, had their status and updates changed to ‘giving up on Pakistan…’ It is heart breaking. This is a bunch of people in the country who look up to each other not jut for inspiration, but also to move on with the fight for the rights of the oppressed. There had been a lively debate going on social media networks like twitter about the history, impact and future of the discriminatory laws, and whether this form of discrimination should be legalized by the state. And it felt like we were finally getting into a culture of dialogue as opposed to the one of bloodsheds and terrorism.

Within five hours of the shooting of the official by his security guard, eight pages emerged in support of the shooter on a social-networking website, facebook. The website was banned by Lahore court last year for some time. One of the fan pages had attracted over 1500 fans in a couple of hours yesterday evening. The page was later removed.

The burning question on most media outlet, public forum, chai-khana (local tea shops) and academic institution is ‘how can we undo this massive penetration of intolerance from our souls?’ Just how is it ever going to be possible to uproot this growing chain-reaction of violence and bigotry which is consuming us up? We urgently need to strengthen the networking between the existing civil society groups in Pakistan and focus on peace-building activities to gather more momentum for building a peaceful society, a society that does not celebrate deaths of their leaders who hold a viewpoint different than ours. It is amazing, the courage of the brave civil society activists who came on roads to protest and held vigils in different cities today, condemning the intolerant traits that have infiltrated our minds.

Further reading:
Pakistan's dangerous blasphemy laws claim the Governor of Punjab-Imtiaz Gul
Asia Bibi’s case-Aftab Mughal

Comments

Thank you Rose for turning our eyes towards Pakistan and writing a great article about what is going on there right now. It is so unfortunate that intolerance and hatred are the characteristics that seem to be increasing around the world, instead of understanding and compassion.

-Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Iffat Gill's picture

It is sad indeed. And more

It is sad indeed. And more so, when you see people working for betterment of the situation discouraged and in low spirits. Thank you for your comment.
Best.

Iffat Gill

warona's picture

mmmmm!

Dear Rose,

Am sorry for the loss of your leaders,May their soul rest in peace.A place full of sounds of gun shots.You know Rose hear in Botswana we hardly hear gun shots except only when killing animals eg a cow.I think that would be so scary for us hear.Situations like this are intolerable,to that an extent that a body guard will face his boss and kill him,oh God have mecry on our fellow men.Really it is heart breaking,more so that the advoctors face a lot challenges.What is all this,is it political or religion?what is the root of all this evil and torture.I really wonder how people survive there.

Isnt there anything that the world can do to help?I believe there is hope!We need to be compassionate about our leaders,societies,children,our women and men at large.So now when it turns to be like this, petty issues that grieve our societies will remain unattended to or negleted.Because if you weigh them,taking someone's life will shutter you more than coucilling someone.And if someone is in the grave its all history,its over.

However,we lean not on our own understanding let God see us through,we hope one day it will be over!

I wish you all the best Rose,take care love

Yours

Warona

"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you for your comment

Thank you for your comment Warona. The world needs to realize that we need to stop this culture of hate and start working on promoting peace globally. There is no way to survival is peaceful survival which is not reflected from our behaviours and attitudes.

Best.

Iffat Gill

Emie Zozobrado's picture

So sad!

Dear Rose,

Everywhere in the world there has been and there will always be conservatives and liberals. We battle with a lot of issues on culture and tradition as we evolve as a people. Please remember that the first two brothers in the Bible, Abel and Cain, ended up with one murdering the other over something as petty as the trivial conflicts we encounter in our day-to-day lives. If today the murder of one "hero" seem to weaken your struggle for positive change, know that this weakening is only temporary. We know .... we just know, that things like this strengthen our faith and conviction for change. There is hope because we see many people are affected. Awareness always breeds motivation. Trust that somewhere in every human heart that feels the need for change is also the urge and the power to make that change possible.... All the best...

Always,
Emie Zozobrado

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your encouraging words Emie. The struggle to make this world a better place to live, for ourselves and for generations to come, should not stop. It should go on. Appreciate your thoughts for the piece.

Best.

Iffat Gill

Sarvina's picture

I feel so sad when I'm

I feel so sad when I'm reading your article. May god bless his soul.

Regards,

Sarvina from Cambodia
VOF 2011 Correspondent

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you Sarvina for reading

Thank you Sarvina for reading my article and for your comment.

Best.

Iffat Gill

Amei's picture

It is sad indeed

to see people who are working towards a better future - somehow feel defeated. I do hope for stronger strength to emerge after the shocking experiences. We cannot give up on truth, peace and love.

Wish Pakistan and its people all the best.

All the best to you Ross. Hope 2011 get better with this immensely sad beginning.

With empathy
Amei

Iffat Gill's picture

The struggle needs to pick momentum

The struggle to peace worldwide needs to pick up momentum and we need to promote positive values instead of hate messages. You are right. We cannot give up on truth, peace and love. we cannot give up on humanity!

Thank you for your kind words.

Best.

Iffat Gill

Potter's picture

Your Voice Counts

Dear Rose, thank you for your article. As Rachael said, thanks for bringing our eyes toward Pakistan. The violence is a crippling response to intolerance. Voices like yours must prevail. I appreciate Emie's optimism that "awareness always breeds motivation." We must all work to insure that is true! Be careful be truthful but do not be silent!
Courage!
Jana P

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you for your kind words

Thank you for your kind words Jana and for the encouragement. There is no other way than to be optimistic. The tragedies do slow you down apparently but they should be a catalyst for a bigger movement for the cause.

Best.

Iffat Gill

NI NI AYE's picture

It was a great lost

Dear Rose

It was my deep sympathy for losing a hero of the social society and the man who valued the woman . Dream became nightmare on that memorable day. I feel hope justice will defeat cruel attacks to future of the happy land.

Best Regards

NI NI

Congratulations on Very Happy Teachers Day through ten years journey!

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you NI NI for your kind

Thank you NI NI for your kind words.

Iffat Gill

HARMONY's picture

Why all these?

I am so disurb with all these violences happening around the world despite all the peace campaign...

thanks Gill for talking. But please be careful. We need you safe to voice all these human right Violation.

I feel for you and your country and hope things will get better sooner.

Trust your HOPES, not your fears... Harmony

Iffat Gill's picture

Thank you for your concern

Thank you for your concern Harmony. Really appreciate it. Best.

Iffat Gill

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