Stand up to the fanatics — or you will be next

By Tazeen Javed

What irony!  Just a few weeks before Governor Salmaan Taseer was assassinated brutally, he said that illiterate maulvis cannot decide if he is a Muslim or not. True, but they sure could decide to spew venom against him in Friday sermons across the country and gun for his blood, which they did. They issued edicts against him, they burned his effigies and they called for his blood and, as a result, Salmaan Taseer is no longer among us. He was killed because of his liberal views and his stand against the blasphemy laws, as confessed by his murderer.

Governor Taseer was probably the highest profile victim of the blasphemy law. He was shot dead because he believed  all citizens should be treated fairly. He decided to support a poor Christian woman on death row and he was chastised, ridiculed and threatened for supporting minorities. If there is justice in this country, every person who issued fatwa against him, who protested against his opinion and who burned his effigies and who incited bigotry on television should be named in the FIR and held accountable for his murder. In addition, all PPP ministers playing to the populist gallery, who defended the blasphemy law, should be hauled along with the other culprits.

In a society where dogma is the currency to get populist support, Salmaan Taseer was a refreshing rationalist and humanist. His death will be mourned because he was a voice of sanity, he was one of the few good men who wanted similar rights for everyone irrespective of their religion, caste, gender and ethnicity. He was an entrepreneur, a politician, a great wit and a positive man who believed in this country. After his brutal murder, there are many of us who are not too hopeful about this country, which will now be branded as one where people cannot dare to speak their mind. If the felicitations about his death are any indication, we are a truly doomed lot that celebrates a murder most foul.

Anyone who thought that the governor’s dreadful demise will bring a positive change, needs to wake up and smell the putrid cesspool that passes as our society. Members of the Jamaat-e-Ahle Sunnat Pakistan have asked the good Muslims of the country not to offer funeral prayers of Governor Taseer and have paid tribute to his murderer. Taseer’s death sends this message to the handful of Pakistanis who are openly liberal: that they need to get their act together or they could be next in line to have their guts splattered on the roadside by a fanatic who thinks doing so will take him to heaven.

Governor Taseer, may you rest in peace. You were a brave, brave man and you will always be remembered as one.

Express Tribune

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~ by shemrez on January 22, 2011.

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