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This is what happens to blasphemers...
January 4, 2011 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Salman Taseer has been assassinated in Islamabad. Why was he assassinated? Because he spoke in defence of Asia Bibi and against Pakistan's outdated blasphemy laws. Where do the justifications for death to those who insult Islam come from? Apparently not from the Quran...
posted by dougrayrankin (39 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
From assholes with authority, like most justifications for death to anybody.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:42 AM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


The notion that a group or entity believes in peace and harmony does not prevent people from using those beliefs as a justification for violence. Despite nearly every religion on Earth promoting first and foremost, "love your fellow man, don't be a dick," we see war. Beyond religion, you've got people who live in the "Land of the Free" (USA) , but want to make flag-burning illegal.

When it comes down to it, some people are violent and selfish, and latch on to whatever rationale is most handy as an excuse to be offended.
posted by explosion at 9:47 AM on January 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


You defend a woman's right to blaspheme, you get killed. You defend a woman's right to choose whether or not to have children you get killed. Oh boy.
posted by mooselini at 9:58 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by clavdivs at 10:02 AM on January 4, 2011


Any comparison between the relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a believe in the United States and the zillions who do exactly that and/or support it in Muslim nations is absurd. We have in general a degree of separation between religious believes and our secular state. Granted, one sometimes impinges on the other. But Catholics still manage birth control and get annulments if not divorces and so on. In Muslim nations, the old ways prevail in every aspect of life and woe unto those who depart from those ways.

Just look at the Democracy we brought to Iraq! Christians are being driven out of the country or killed. Jews? They were driven out years ago. Try celebrating Christmas or Yom Kippur in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.
posted by Postroad at 10:12 AM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Since he died for promoting religious freedom in a country that's an official ally of the United States, his sacrifice will never see the front page. We'll have to wait until Pakistan revolts against the State Department for him to become a martyr, since his story will finally be useful as more evidence for the invasion.

At least one person sees Pakistan falling to extremists:
Tuesday, 19 May 2009, 12:58
S E C R E T CAIRO 000874
NEA FOR FO; NSC FOR KUMAR AND SHAPIRO
EO 12958 DECL: 05/17/2019

. . .

No issue demonstrates Mubarak,s worldview more than his reaction to demands that he open Egypt to genuine political competition and loosen the pervasive control of the security services. Certainly the public "name and shame" approach in recent years strengthened his determination not to accommodate our views. However, even though he will be more willing to consider ideas and steps he might take pursuant to a less public dialogue, his basic understanding of his country and the region predisposes him toward extreme caution. We have heard him lament the results of earlier U.S. efforts to encourage reform in the Islamic world. He can harken back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists. Wherever he has seen these U.S. efforts, he can point to the chaos and loss of stability that ensued. In addition to Iraq, he also reminds us that he warned against Palestinian elections in 2006 that brought Hamas (Iran) to his doorstep. Now, we understand he fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf. While he knows that Bashir in Sudan has made multiple major mistakes, he cannot work to support his removal from power.
posted by notion at 10:14 AM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hmmm. May not literally be in the Koran, but it's certainly in keeping with the spirit of the Koran. Check out 9:122.
posted by gnossie at 10:23 AM on January 4, 2011


Oh, look, the But but but Clinton! defense of religion.

Predominantly Christian countries are not better because of the religion, they are better because secular government has greater authority and greater legitimacy via democracy.

Which is of course why certain elements of our nation want to radicalize religion, and are constantly pushing a cult of victimhood, such as that "war on Christmas" nonsense, to rationalize retaliation once they have the majority support. They want Christianity in America to have the power Islam has elsewhere.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2011 [18 favorites]


Since he died for promoting religious freedom in a country that's an official ally of the United States, his sacrifice will never see the front page.

It's on the front page of nytimes.com, washingtonpost.com and as we speak.

I'm getting a little tired of people saying that troublesome news won't be reported, when they mean that most people will ignore. It turns apathy into a conspiracy.
posted by zabuni at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


It's on the front page of nytimes.com, washingtonpost.com and as we speak.

Yeah. I wake up multiple times in the night to feed my baby, and this was all over NPR each time. As it should be -- this is a big deal.

The law in question may or may not be justified by Islam. But the gigantic backlash to any attempt to keep someone from being killed for blasphemy in 2011, including this killing, is overwhelmingly religious in nature.
posted by gurple at 10:35 AM on January 4, 2011


Any comparison between the relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a believe in the United States and the zillions who do exactly that and/or support it in Muslim nations is absurd.

Comparison was set in juxtaposition to forecast precisely the comment you made. I don't disagree that the blasphemy law in Pakistan cost hundreds people their lives or deem varying degrees of Western human rights violations there inapplicable. But it is too often I see that folks are eager to unite all "Muslim nations" under "dark ages" flag while forgetting that we have a quite a few nutters at home.

perspective, people!
posted by mooselini at 10:38 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My bad. Looks like he's a member of the disintegrating government that we're propping up, so his death will be news.
posted by notion at 10:45 AM on January 4, 2011


Hmmm. May not literally be in the Koran, but it's certainly in keeping with the spirit of the Koran. Check out 9:122.

Isn't that surah about religious education? Also, why is that particular quote more representative of "the spirit of the Koran" than any of the others one might select?
posted by Amanojaku at 10:53 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any comparison between the relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a believe in the United States and the zillions who do exactly that and/or support it in Muslim nations is absurd.
posted by Postroad at 1:12 PM on January 4


right, because the hordes righteous wingnuts that kill in the name of god and country most likely would have joined the US Army.

and i have to give a CAVEAT: of course not everybody who joins the US Army is a wingnut. i happen to be quite familiar with one particular muslim-convert veteran.

but the reality is that there's those out there waging christian wars against muslims while wearing US military fatigues. to deny it, is to deny is to deny one of the many lures used by the plutocracy to make the meek fight their wars.
posted by liza at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. May not literally be in the Koran, but it's certainly in keeping with the spirit of the Koran. Check out 9:122.

Not so sure about that one, but I've long gotten a kick out of the brutally frank tenor of 9:5: “Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem.”
posted by tiger yang at 11:10 AM on January 4, 2011


The Koran, like the Bible and other complex religious texts, is a mirror. If you are of a violent nature then you will find justification for violence in it.
posted by rocket88 at 11:20 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The problem is partly that people find what they want in religious texts, but more than that it's that the whole notion of "this book is infallible and is the word of god" is completely antithetical to the ideas of free will and responsibility for one's own actions. Something like the "kill the disbelievers" thing is clearly a relic from ancient times that makes no sense in the modern world, so the various clerics should just get together and amend the Koran (bible, etc.) so that it makes sense in the present day. If the various clerics don't feel like they have the right to do this, well, I don't know what to tell them. It's not enough just to focus on the parts you like; you need to explicitly reject the parts you don't like, in writing, and communicate that to your flock (assuming that following religious leaders makes sense in the first place).

Having said all that, I also think that the religious angle is not sufficient to explain this sort of act. If everyone had plenty of money and was healthy and leading a productive, vibrant life and being listened to by wonderful, selfless, corruption-free officials, I'm not sure people would become so unbalanced as to think assassinations like this were a good idea.
posted by freecellwizard at 11:43 AM on January 4, 2011


When it comes down to it, some people are violent and selfish, and latch on to whatever rationale is most handy as an excuse to be offended.
posted by explosion at 5:47 PM on January 4


And yet isn't it odd how frequently and easily that rationale is provided by religion?

Tch! There I go being a bigot again. Why, no doubt I'll be demanding death for religious people next!

The Koran, like the Bible and other complex religious texts, is a mirror. If you are of a violent nature then you will find justification for violence in it.
posted by rocket88 at 7:20 PM on January 4


Yeah, and with statements like the one tiger yang quoted (and there are plenty more) you don't have to look too hard to find it, do you?

If the Bible and the Koran are mirrors, they're the kind you get in the Fun House.
posted by Decani at 12:37 PM on January 4, 2011


Having said all that, I also think that the religious angle is not sufficient to explain this sort of act. If everyone had plenty of money and was healthy and leading a productive, vibrant life and being listened to by wonderful, selfless, corruption-free officials, I'm not sure people would become so unbalanced as to think assassinations like this were a good idea.

This is so huge, and one of the greatest tragedies of the Iraq War. Their literacy rate is dropping like a rock, so where before you had a civil and relatively secular society with a nutty leader, you now have illiterate peasants who would believe you if you told them the earth was flat. We have turned Iraq into Afghanistan.

High unemployment and low literacy? Check. Saudi funded madrassas providing room and board? Check. Only now they don't have to convince anyone that Americans are invaders. They can just point to the helicopters overhead. Not to mention that there are now Iraqi teenagers who barely remember who Saddam Hussein was, but they sure as hell recognize the stars and stripes.
posted by notion at 1:36 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Try celebrating Christmas or Yom Kippur in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

Try avoiding fucking Christmas carols in Dubai.
posted by atrazine at 2:25 PM on January 4, 2011


If I were a Muslim I would grit my teeth every time a non-Muslim started explaining my religion to me. And I would probably have huge dental bills, because it seems to happen all the time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:18 PM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Try celebrating Christmas or Yom Kippur in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

Like this sort of thing, do you mean?
posted by pompomtom at 3:30 PM on January 4, 2011


If I were a Muslim I would grit my teeth every time a non-Muslim started explaining my religion to me.

Lots of Muslims grit their teeth every time other Muslims start explaining their religion to them. I don't believe in Islam anymore, but it was completely mind boggling to me growing up (and still, today) how some Muslims nearly worship the prophet Muhammad, and place him on a level far beyond reverence and respect, and borderline deify him.
posted by raztaj at 3:35 PM on January 4, 2011


Any comparison between the relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a believe in the United States and the zillions who do exactly that and/or support it in Muslim nations is absurd.

Racist fantasy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:29 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The text is just a tool of the powerful to build a frenzy. The devil will cite scriptures. It doesn't even matter what it says. People will always hold myths and illusions up because reality is just to complex. We can only try to contain the power of religious leaders who exoit the myths to their own advantage.
posted by humanfont at 4:54 PM on January 4, 2011


Any comparison between the relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a believe in the United States and the zillions who do exactly that and/or support it in Muslim nations is absurd. We have in general a degree of separation between religious believes and our secular state. Granted, one sometimes impinges on the other. But Catholics still manage birth control and get annulments if not divorces and so on. In Muslim nations, the old ways prevail in every aspect of life and woe unto those who depart from those ways.

Amazing logic pretzel, this. The only reason we don't have religious based violence here on the same scale as in those countries has nothing to do with the differences in religion, and everything to do with enough secular safeguards to keep the zealots in their place. No thanks to the zealots - they and their Republican allies work night and day, like termites, to undermine and pulverize that wall of separation. And should they succeed, you'll quickly find the same level of religious nuttery here. I find it rich for anyone to then point at our "relatively minor number of nutters who would do violence in the name of a belief". It's as if you have a contingent of arsonists targeting the fire department as "not needed" because "look how few fires we have"... compared to the next door county that has plenty of fires, and neglecting to point out that the very reason the next door county has plenty of fires is because they don't have a fire department. But hey, "our arsonists" are nice and safe, not like those "nasty arsonists" over there.
posted by VikingSword at 4:54 PM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"perspective, people!"

The problem with this kind of "perspective" is that it can make small things that are close seem the same as big things that are far away, when in fact they aren't.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2011


A decent guy in a country full of bad governing.

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posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:53 PM on January 4, 2011


Religions is just the sock puppets, baby. Be hating on the people's hands in there doing all the punching. When some self-hating psycho bombs an abortion clinic, I don't want to heave out the whole baby-bathwater mix any more than I want to see a large portion of the world getting kicked in the teeth by my lame-assed leaders because some angry jokers don't like the unfair treatment from the all too powerful trading partners, and decided to knock a big assed symbolic building over. Religion is a giant weeping pus filled sore on the complexion of humanity, but steamroll it out of existance and the madness will go on. Religious rationalization just puts coloured smoke into a fire already burning.
posted by Redhush at 8:20 PM on January 4, 2011


I have noticed many who see the blasphemy laws, (and the related laws which specifically target and marginalize only Ahmadi Muslims) as being at a root of a rise of intolerance, and willingness to accept violence as a tactic of making 'points', in a global context (by marginalizing the Ahmadi in Pakistan, there is a guarantee that these people play no part in the government, meaning that their moderate beliefs and strong valuing of Science and inquiry is not added to the governing structure of the Nation, leading to a weaker state overall... a shift in laws, and a deeper embracing of the Ahmadi folks would go a long way to changing the way Pakistan interacts with other global nations.
While it may be difficult for President Asif Ali Zardari to find Osama bin Laden, it sure isn't difficult for him to locate a copy of his country's Second Amendment, which strips the right of millions of Ahmadis to call themselves Muslims.

I would suggest reinstating, or rather, reinvigorating principle 33 in Chapter two (principles of policy) of Pakistan's constitution. "Parochial and other similar prejudices to be discouraged. The State shall discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudices among the citizens." - as the second amendment directly counters this aim and goal.

It makes a lot of sense for Westerners to drop the heavy handed talk, and start thinking about what protection of religious freedom, freedom of belief, and freedom of expression means. And how vitally valuable it is; these freedoms create a place where Atheism is as protected as any religion has ever been. This is a good thing. People need freedoms of this sort in order to thrive, and live a good life; whether one is chasing goals of inquiry and material discoveries, or spiritual satisfaction [both valid aspirations, different folks, and different cloaks], I think we should agree that we must have these freedoms, to choose, to change, to revert, to subvert, or convert; to develop and advance scientifically, socially, and culturally.
This is again, a time and place where stronger protections upon freedom of Religion and freedom of belief are urgently needed. Going further towards the bunker mentality and snap judgements of "bad thought and good thought", "reasonable vs. unreasonable" plays directly into the sort of internal conflict that Pakistan faces right now...

One needs to observe the context of the States and Nations, the sociology of places where we see the rise of acceptance of violent tactics, not only focusing on one commonality, when there are other commonalities which inform and teach reactionary segregation, from Caste segregation, or Uighurs, or Chechnya, FLQ, ETA, Basques, Quebecios, Aboriginal segregation in Canada... everywhere, for a quantum of reasons... people are discriminated against, segregated for their beliefs, and for their ties, for their allies or allegiances and for some, by their religion. Intolerance towards freedom of belief is a dangerous road to follow. Whichever side of the road we are on at that point in our journey.

The alleged Time Square suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was a 5-year-old Pakistani citizen when these draconian laws were enacted. His generation knows only one way to deal with a difference of opinion in matters of religion: Shoot the opponent.
....
School-age children need to be taught, from an early age, how to express a difference of religious opinion — and more importantly, how to respect one
....
Since the promulgation of anti-Ahmadi laws in 1984, 101 Ahmadis have been killed on religious grounds. In June 2008, the entire population of Rabwah (the headquarters town of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan) — 60,000 people — was charged with committing blasphemy.

-I'd add that this change must start with the way the State interacts with its' own citizens. The respect for differing positions will follow from the State showing respect, and openness to allowing for and respecting "diversity in thought".

The Second Amendment: "is there anywhere in the world where this one isn't used for bad ends"?
posted by infinite intimation at 9:23 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by Brian B. at 9:52 PM on January 4, 2011


Now look, no one is to assassinate anyone until I blow this whistle. Do you understand? Even, and I will make this perfectly clear, even if they do say Mohammad [PBUH].
posted by fartknocker at 10:09 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The formation of the militant wing of the Unitarians can't be far off now.
posted by humanfont at 5:54 PM on January 5, 2011


You mean the Unitarian Jihad?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:25 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]




Try celebrating Christmas or Yom Kippur in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

As someone who sang in Christmas choirs in Pakistan, has attended Midnight Mass in Lahore, and been a part of the annual Christmas present-giving to all Christian staff and faculty members at the school where I taught for ten years, I find this comment utterly laughable. The only one of those things that is slightly unusual is the participation in the Christmas choir.

We Pakistanis don't do nearly as well as we should by our non-Muslim minorities. But most of us respect their right to worship and celebrate, and do what we can to support them in that.

Never having been to Saudi Arabia, I wouldn't dare to presume that I know anything about whether Christians are able to celebrate there.

As to Yom Kippur, I must admit I don't know any Pakistani Jews. To my knowledge, that population has always been pretty small, but has decreased in size over the years. I tend to think that the same social norms would apply to them, as well.

I am sick with grief that my country continues to tear itself to pieces. I'll be damned if I'll let anyone malign a nation that already has too many burdens to bear. And yes, I am well aware that they are burdens mostly of our own creation.
posted by bardophile at 1:46 PM on January 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bardophile: Here's a link to a posting from website that concerns itself with vanished Jewish communities. Apparently there used to be a few thousand in Pakistan, but it's a bit vague. Anyway, there aren't as many as there used to be. Wikipedia says "there may be still a small community of Jews residing in Pakistan".

For what it's worth: there is apparently precisely one Jew in Afghanistan.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:08 AM on January 10, 2011


Sherry Rehman the clerics next target. An out spoken liberal, perhaps the only one as prominent as the recently assassinated Govenor. While in Parliament she introduced bills to crack down on honor killings and domestic violence as well as expanding freedom of the press.

My anger grows and I look at our weapons and wonder how we can be so defenseless against these men. Do they not fear our Fatwah's? We have held back from the truly industrialized violence we might apply. Shanks we napalm their Nueremberg rallies, burning them as they would burn our flag? Dispatch hellfire and cruise missiles at Friday prayers to the radical mosques making our own Passover? Declare on high a new covenent for those pray mercy. The radicals from Punjab to Arizona are so frenzied by the future, by fags and free women. Shall we march our armies from Kabul to Islamabad and Karachi up the coast through old Souk of Shiraz until at last we march the Mullahs through Tehran and throw them into the Caspain? Have you ever met a Carthaginian? Was Ann Coulter right?

This fantasy of violence and empire solves nothing. Just another decade of war as poverty, illiteracy spread and extremism grows. We have tried the path of vengeance in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Russians tried in Chenya. It does nothing. That is the secret of our
victory. The freedom riders were cut down and bombed by the Klan. Yet they kept pressing through non-violence. The riders kept comming, kept talking, kept marching and boycotting. That is the real means of liberation. In a few days we recall Dr King. Lets work towards his dream, instead of losing ourselves to madness.
posted by humanfont at 6:46 AM on January 10, 2011


Salman Taseer Remembered - Tariq Ali (LRB).
posted by adamvasco at 6:22 AM on January 19, 2011


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