A “Righteous” Confusion
What differentiates the smiling face of Mumtaz Qadri from that of an apprehended criminal is a lack of guilt. Mr. Qadri is beaming with pride because according to his religious beliefs he has not done anything wrong. But this raises a question; how does the belief in a religion, whose name literally means “Peace” result in senseless and guiltless killings such as that of Governor Taseer? There are various explanations making the rounds; some blame this twisted sense of morality on the current American war against the Taliban, while others blame it on the previous American support of the Mujahideen.
But the profile of Mr. Qadri and his followers doesn’t exactly match that of the past beneficiaries and the recent affectees of US interventions in Afghanistan. To begin with, Mr. Qadri is a Barelvi, the sect of Islam that is portrayed by us Pakistanis as anti Taliban. We distance ourselves from the barbarity of suicide bombings and beheadings by quoting the fact that a majority of Pakistanis are Barelvis and thus not Taliban. Furthermore, Mr. Qadri also does not represent a fringe element among the Barelvis, as more than 500 Ulema of the Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan (JASP) celebrated his crime and warned of similar consequences for others daring to disagree with them. facebook pages dedicated to Mr. Qadri are teeming with fans that have no qualms about shaving their beards, listening to music or openly declaring their dating preferences. This killing and its subsequent celebrations can not be blamed on fringe elements, this bigotry is as Pakistani as it can get.
Pakistan’s religious right has embraced this act unabashedly and the justifications offered are quite bewildering; take for instance the statement of the Amir of Jamaat I Islami, Syed Munawar Hassan, who blames Salman Taseer for his own death. His explanation and that of many others is that, the emotions surrounding the issue of blasphemy are so intense, that it makes it very difficult for Muslims to control their anger, it is because of their “hurt feelings” that they are forced to take such actions.
But by using the same logic, Mufti Sarfaraz Ahmed Naeemi should also be held responsible for the suicide attack on him, because by speaking out against suicide bombings, Mufti Naeemi “hurt” the feelings of its proponents who consider suicide bombing as the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. The 40 dead in Daata Darbar, and the 8 dead at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, should also be held responsible for their own deaths, because what they thought of as Islam, was actually an “insult” to the Islam professed by their “enraged” murderers. Also, if “hurt feelings” are a measure of the justification of an act, then the faceless suicide bombers of the Taliban seem to be much more hurt and thus more justified than Mr. Qadri, who despite being supposedly blinded by rage, found the time to pre-negotiate a safe exit.
As the self proclaimed guardians of Pakistan’s Islamic ethos, our religious right has always emphasized the importance of Islam as a complete code of life; a set of ideals, that ensures the abidance to Islamic laws. The murder of Salman Taseer is a gross violation of the very same ethos that our religious right claims to champion.
The irony is thick in these “righteous” celebrations, because by celebrating the death of Salman Taseer, these defenders of the Blasphemy Law are in fact celebrating the irrelevance of that very same law.