Pakistani Writers and Bloggers React to Salmaan Taseer’s Death
In the hours that passed after the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, there were many people who shamefully celebrated his death. Disrespectful Facebook pages were created, while pictures of the murderer carried the disturbing title: “Salute to the Greatness of Ghazi Malik Mumtaz Qadri.”
Less than 24 hours later, some of those Facebook pages already were inaccessible.
Of course, while some television commentators duplicitously blamed Salmaan Taseer for his own fate, there were many people who remembered him fairly and with respect. In a recent interview with Newsline, Salmaan Taseer said honestly and eloquently why standing up for Aasiya Bibi and against the Blasphemy Laws was the right thing to do:
“I went to Sheikhupura jail to stand up against a bully and it has encouraged others to do so as well. That’s what taking a moral stance is. I am honestly happy to say that I am heartened by the huge response from ordinary folk. Even people who are deeply religious have spoken out against this black law. Ghamdi, for example, has stated clearly that this has nothing to do with Islam – Islam calls on us to protect minorities, the weak and the vulnerable.”
In this sad time for Pakistan, when justice, reason and compassion are in short supply, here are a few voices from the Pakistani blogosphere who have remembered Governor Taseer’s bravery, have stood up for his shared values and are railing against the madness that seems to be strengthening its hold on the country.
Raza Rumi at the Express Tribune
Salmaan Taseer’s brutal murder at the hands of a policeman is a cruel reminder of where we have landed ourselves: in a dark morass of irrationality lorded over by pernicious ideologies. Taseer was a representative of the federation in the largest province of Pakistan. Yet, as his death shows, he was very vulnerable to the deep-seated prejudice within the state and society. A target of the reactionaries and of bigots, he became a symbol of resistance against the Talibanisation of Punjab.
Omar at Accidental Blogger
The killer already has a hugely popular fan page on FB.
I know people are trying to have the FB page shut down, but I think the page should NOT be shut down. People are not “radicalized” on this page, they come to this page because they are “radicals”. Let others see them and see what the mindset is really like. Otherwise, we will be forever plagued by ‘Westoxicated’ liberals whose only frame of reference is postmodern western academia and who only know this type of Muslim through the eyes of some professor in Columbia University or Berkeley…little brown children, bravely struggling against the hegemonic discourse of the west or some such…
Raza Habib Raja at Pak Tea House
Around 4:30 today, I received a call from my friend while sitting in the office informing me about the murder of Salman Taseer by one of his security guards. Besides informing me about the tragic episode he also warned me not to condemn the murder and more importantly not to criticize blasphemy law openly as fanaticism has really seeped into the society. He reminded me that when such a powerful figure such as Salman Taseer was not able to survive how ordinary people like us could remain safe. The words of my friend are an exact reflection of how much we have descended into madness and also on the virtual absence of state’s writ when it came to religious inspired violence.
Ahsan at Asian Correspondent
You’ll never see those calling for greater tolerance killing or intimidating those calling for less tolerance. It’s always the other way around in this country. It’s such an uneven fight, and Governor Salman Taseer found out just how uneven today.
Plenty of media personnel and right-wing politicians in this country contributed to this with their constant “wajib-ul-qatl” refrain, not to mention equating support for blasphemy laws to support for Islam. All of them could technically be dealt with as inciters to violence (illegal in our country, and basically every other one out there) but they won’t. You get to say and do whatever you want, act with as much impunity as you want — as long as you have God on your side.
Ahsan also provides a great post with other quotes and reactions on Governor Taseer’s Assassination.
Karachi Khatmal at Copy Paste Material
for starters, celebrating deaths is a pretty shitty act.
but if we start thinking that it is a refuge only taken by the stone-age , FATA-living, honor-killing, beard-measuring fundamentalists, we need to think again.
for starters, one of the reportedly eight fan pages of taseer’s killers had over a 100 fans. when i clicked through their profiles, they were also fans of stuff like Enrique Iglesias, Family Guy, 300, Coke Studio, the Godfather.
a prominent ahmed qureshi-clone blogger, dan qayyum, constantly tweeted that it was time to take out all the liberal extremist cunts. his previous tweets had been about how roy hodgson wasn’t good enough [for] his beloved liverpool.
see the contradictions here?
Tazeen at A Reluctant Mind
Governor Taseer is probably the highest profile victim of the blasphemy law. He was shot dead because he was brave, he believed that all citizens should be treated fairly and he died for holding that belief. He decided to support a poor Christian woman on death row and he was chastised, ridiculed and threatened for that. In the end, he was even killed for that. All the PPP ministers such as Khurshid Shah and Babar Awan who defended the law should be hauled along with all the maulanas who burned his effigies and issued fatwas against him for this brutal murder.
Kalsoom at Changing Up Pakistan
I am deeply saddened by this tragedy, but I am also disgusted by those who continue to hide their own blasphemous faces behind the blasphemy laws, who use violence to mask their own cowardice. I am disgusted that Salman Taseer was one of only a few brave enough to stand up to the religiously bigoted, while others stood silent. And finally, I am disgusted by those who would rather speak ill of the dead and defile Taseer. Put aside your pettiness and have some respect.
Salman Taseer died a martyr today, and our condolences and prayers go out to his family. His death is a tremendous loss for Pakistan and for the fight to amend the blasphemy laws, but it is one that should mobilize us all to take a stand. Or else we all will have blood on our hands.
From Cafe Pyala
So how do we deal with all this? I have heard a lot of dismay and hopelessness today and I can completely understand the feeling. For many people, this is another nail in the coffin of the idea of a viable future for Pakistan. The only option to counter this feeling of despondency, in my opinion, is to become more assertive and louder and to shame those who would stifle dissent. The problem of course is that wishy-washy liberalism cannot fight fanaticism. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. Simply put, we can either shut up, resign ourselves to our fate and disconnect from this country and society or we can fight back and refuse to cede the space that the bastards want us to. Nobody ever said it would be easy.
As a start, let us declare Qadri, all those who support Qadri and murderers like him, the Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement and its ilk, as outside the pale of Islam. Let’s see how they like being referred to as blasphemers and murtids. Nobody said the fight would not be dirty.
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