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When Even Shooting 14 Year Old Girls In the Face Attracts Outrage

In a country where 14 year old girls can be shot in the face for challenging medievalist thugs’ vulnerable ideas of manhood, even writing a negative piece in a national daily can attract similar threats from medievalist thugs smarting from the outraged coverage of their shooting 14 year old girls in the face.

At first glance, the tagline for a recent piece by Kunwar Shahid – Karachi-based editor of Pakistan Today – might have seemed to be excusing said medievalist thugs for shooting a 14 year old girl in the face.

“Don’t blame the Taleban” he said, and proceeded to attribute the problem not to their perversion of religious texts but to their literal adherence to them; and was not short of contemptuous remarks for an irreligious cadre from the middle classes which now have expressed an interest in living piously.

The piece soon was taken down from the Pakistan Today website; although it remains in Google Cache:

Let’s call a spade a spade instead

The Malala incident is déjà vu times million. You have religious ‘extremists’ manifesting brutality; the ‘educated’ class calls the act heinous, the ‘intellectuals’ label the offenders as beasts, the ‘liberals’ protest against the ‘cowardly act’ and while everyone is condemning the act, they remain shushed about the root cause of it all: the ideology. Throughout the past every single person who has denounced the Taliban has acted as an apologetic, justifying the religious ideology and claiming how those ‘uneducated morons’ have ‘unfortunately’ misinterpreted the teachings of peace and tranquility – no, they haven’t, ‘unfortunately’.

It is so painfully amusing to note how the ‘moderates’ and armchair revolutionaries, would sit there with a glass of vine in their hands, uninhibitedly hanging out with the opposite sex, not having offered a prayer or fasted for ages, claiming how the Taliban – who lead their lives strictly according to the Shariah – are infesting their religion of harmony. The poor chaps are only doing what their scriptures – the ones that the pseudo intellectuals extol, or don’t have the cojones to criticize – tell them to do. When you are being taught, through the scriptures that are universally recognized by the followers as ‘authentic’, that all the non-believers or threats to the grandeur of your ideology should be killed, you will kill them, where is the misinterpretation here?

Finding slaves or slave girls, repulsive; physically assaulting women, disgusting; cutting off hands for theft, inhuman; stoning people to death, beastly and then venerating the ideology that permits this at the same time is hypocrisy of the very highest order. You sit there, criticize and mock the Taliban that follow your religion in its true form while you live in oblivion with your extremely palatable, but simultaneously blatantly fallacious, brand of religion and then claim that the Taliban are misinterpreting and misapprehending your ideology? Oh, the irony.

Let’s stop carving out quasi religions, or defending ideologies that we’ve all grown up blindly following as the truth. Let’s call a spade a spade instead and realize that at the end of the day as much as you might have a cardiac arrest admitting it, the root cause of religious extremism is: religion – especially in its raw crude form, which again is the only ‘authentic’ form.

Every single religion has a violent streak. Every single one of them orders violence and killing in one form or the other for the ‘non-believers’. One can quote verses from every holy scripture depicting loathe and despise for anyone who doesn’t believe in the said scripture and its propagator. Sure, those scriptures would have the occasional fit of peace as well, but that only springs into the open when it is recognized as the only supreme authority. Every religion is a ‘religion of peace’ as long as it formulates the status quo; there is no concept of ideological symbiosis in any religion. When a tyrannical regime or dictator calls for peace with the condition that they would reign supreme we label them as oppressors, but when this is done in the name of religion we tout it as maneuvers of ‘harmony’.

The Taliban have defended the attack on Malala Yousafzai through scriptures and historic precedents. You can clamor all you want about how there is a lack of understanding on the part of the Taliban, but how on earth can you refute clear messages of violence and historical evidence – scribed by historians of your faith – depicting brutality on the part of some of the most illustrious people in the history of the religion? It is easy to launch vitriol against the Taliban for attacking a 14-year-old girl, but it is also equally hypocritical and pathetic when you eulogize people from your history who did the same in the past, who massacred masses, destroyed lands, pulverized places of worship, raped women, just because they ostensibly did it in the name of your religion. Don’t blame the Taliban for following their lead, don’t blame the Taliban for using violence as a means to cement religious superiority – something that has been done for centuries – don’t blame the Taliban for the fact that you don’t have the guts to call a spade a spade even though it has been spanking your backside for centuries now.

The fact that groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi exist is because Islam is still traversing its Dark Ages while other religions have gone through Reformation, resulting in a collective Renaissance – and that too half a millennium ago. None of the religion in its crude form can work in this day and age, and instead of taking the easy route and scorning at those that follow religious teachings in its original form, the more logical approach would be to accept the truth.

If you’re acknowledging Islam as the supreme authority, you have no grounds for hauling coals over Zia-ul-Haq for implementing laws from the Shariah, you have no grounds for attacking Mumtaz Qadri or feeling sorry for Salmaan Taseer who clearly spoke against the blasphemy law, you have no grounds for lauding Dr Abdul Salaam as a national asset who belonged to a sect that clearly defies Islamic teachings, and yes, you have no grounds for blaming the Taliban.

It’s time our ‘thinkers’ stopped taking the easy way out and finally picked a side. You either follow a religion in its true form or you’re irreligious. The Taliban know which side they are on. Do you?

The writer is Editor Business/City (Karachi), Pakistan Today. He tweets @khuldune and can be contacted at [email protected]

At least one other piece in a similar vein by Shahid has escaped the censors.