Back in 2002 when I was a rookie journalist, I met Jeewanti, a teenager who was doused with acid to avenge a property dispute with her family. She was the first person I met who has faced an act of violence against her. Unfortunately, I have met various people since then who have faced violence and brutality, be it Munno Bheel who is fighting to release his bonded family for over a decade or the peon in my former office who fled his home in Chitral because he was a Shia living in a Sunni village fearing persecution for his faith. One of my friends has lost her uncle, a surgeon, during the period when sectarian groups were targeting and killing Shia doctors in Karachi.
Every minority, be it ethnic, religious or sectarian, and weaker groups have faced violence and persecution in this country. If you are a religious minority in the land of pure, you have about as much of an opportunity of growth as a one-legged man in a kicking competition. Constitution bars you from holding the highest offices in the country. Your temples and churches are vandalized and you are not allowed to propagate your religion. You are lucky if you are a Christian or a Hindu, at least you can call your places of worship by their real names; if you happen to be an Ahmadi, you cannot even do that.
If you are a child, you probably are one of too many children in the family; your parents do not give you enough food and attention. There are not enough schools and even if they are, you parents cannot afford to send you and you are working to contribute to family income. At workplace you are probably abused. If you leave home, you will definitely be sexually abused and will probably end up using drugs. If you happen to end up in a radical madrassah, there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others.
If you are a sectarian minority, then you are on the hit list of all sectarian outfits. They can burn your houses and places of business if you are in Chitral or can shoot you from a distance of 2 meters in Karachi and get away with it. If you are an Ismaili Muslim, chances are the religious parties will try to get you declared a non Muslims when they can’t think of any other political issue to hijack.
If you are woman, you will be malnourished and uneducated to begin with. When you are a little older, you will probably be doused with acid, burned, tortured, married off to men of inappropriate age and character to pay off debts (vani), killed (karo kari) to either implicate or secure money from opponents of your family. You will be raped, at times even by the police and other security forces, to settle dispute and at times because men think they can get away with it. Your testimony in the court of law is that of half of a man, and your citizenships rights are limited.
The way things are in this country of ours; soon it will turn into a place where only rich right wing fanatic Sunni men would have any citizenship rights. If you are a religious Sunni man who is spewing venom against the minorities and women from the pulpits, you have an unassailable immunity. The way things are, the future migrations from the country would not be for economic reasons, they would be for liberty and freedom.
Originally written for Express Tribune. This is the unedited version.
Even though I lived in Pakistan almost all my life, I actually got to know about Dr Israr Ahmed when I was in college in UK and Dr Shahid Masood shot his cringe inducing series ‘End of Time’. I came back home and discovered that one of our neighbours has joined his Tanzeem-e-Islami. All of a sudden his daughter who passed her O levels Economics paper because of my tuition has started avoiding me. When I asked, she said that her dad told her to stay away from me because I am foreign educated and my mind is filled with Western ideas and I may corrupt her hitherto unsoiled mind. Mind you, the only ideas I have tried to impart to her were always about indifference curve and use of derivation and quadratic equations in Economics, but I digress.
I then started digging a bit and found out that Dr Sahib, although denounced Jihad as called by Al Qaida and other militant organizations, was a fan of Mullah Omar and Taliban and was totally against co educational institutions of higher learning. He believed that if women cannot get education in separate institutions, they should not study at all. As we have bigger nutcases in the country who constantly make headlines, I never really bothered to get to know about him.
Earlier today I saw the news report that he passed away and then saw his face as facebook display picture of an acquaintance. When I asked her the reason of such display of affection, she told me that the good doctor had once called her haramzadi because he did not like what she was wearing and it was her way of paying respect. Apparently, my friend, a journalist and documentary film maker, was covering an MMA rally protesting the combined marathon in Lahore outside Karachi Press Club and Dr Israr Ahmed was there protesting alongside the MMA leadership. At that point, my friend was the only female journalist there with a camera and she was wearing a short sleeved top. First he refused to talk to her, but relented when she persisted and ended the conversation with a parting shot, “West ne haramzadi ka huliya badal diya hai.”
ویسٹ نے حرامزادی کا حلیہ بدل دیا ہے
Now I have been raised by mother to be ladylike and have been taught that one should not speak ill of the dead but I am still wondering that just because Doctor Sahib did not agree with her choice of clothing, he was entitled to call her names? Was that in any way justified or even civil? Was he promoting such levels of tolerance to his thousands of followers? Just wondering…
As I have stopped fresh comments on this post, I was contacted – rather persistently – by a fan of Dr Israr to add this bit of info on my blog clearing his name. I still maintains that calling someone haramzadi in a public gathering, even if the said scholar was quoting an Akbar Allahabadi sher was in extremely bad taste and openly misogynist.
Here is the link to the “clarification“
Last time I was in Netherlands, I indulged in some serious blitzkrieg tourism, which was very exciting but did not leave me much time to actually notice the life in this little corner of the world. This time, my stay is for a much longer period so I do other mundane things like getting on a tram to go to work, buying grocery and cursing weather like locals do (have had just two and half sunny days in past few months). During this trip, I have more time to look around and see things as they are and among the things I noticed was the fact that for a population of 15 million people (that is less people than just the city of Karachi) they have an abnormally high number of sex shops.
Now, before you decide to pack your bags and move here, let me tell you that they don’t sell ‘sex’ in the shops per se (although that too is legalized here along with soft drugs), they do however sell everything else related to sex, be in performance enhancing drugs, risqué lingerie, toys, videos, fetish and bondage products and what not. It’s not just the big cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam (my home for a few weeks) or Den Haag where you can find these sex shops; tiny places like Beverwijk and Haarlem also have their fair share of stores selling kinky products. Not only these shops are in every town and city, they are also everywhere. In Rotterdam, you can take your kids for their McDonald’s fix and can browse in the sex shop in the same alley while they are waiting for their fries & coke or you can hop in to a coffee shop for some Hollandse Appeltaart near the university and find a shop selling kinky inflated life sized dolls next door.
Last night when I heard out about the first online Islamic sex shop, two thoughts sprang up instantaneously. First was how will a Islamic sex shop be different from any other regular sex shops and the second was that somehow someone Dutch had to be involved in it and I was right. Abdelaziz Aouragh is a Dutch Muslim of Moroccan origins and his webshop, El Asira, will start selling stuff exclusively for Muslims from this weekend.
Aouragh is a smart businessman, even before he started his business, he turned to a local imam for approval who sought guidance from another scholar in Saudi Arabia and found out that as long as products are halal and are meant to help sex within marriage, it’s all good. Heck, there is even a fatwa supporting that. I personally have no issues with people using whatever they want as long as it is consensual, but how in the God’s good name do you find out about whether a sex product is halal or not. Who will you go to find that edible lingerie is halal and a red-hot puppy mask is not? Would the halal search engine devote a special section on Halal kink and tell you which kinky shit you do is halal and which one is not? How the person who is selling the stuff online will find out whether the product he is selling is for sex within marriage, outside the marriage, with humans or with goats. What makes this shop halal and the other shops haraam? Is it the Arabic name or the fact that it is owned by an Abdelaziz rather than a Rutherford or a Cohen?
I am all for innovative entrepreneurship but dragging religion into everything just makes it more of a laughing stock and I think we have had enough of it. Be as twisty and crazy as you want, just don’t seek validation form a religious scholar for being that way. Making it religiously acceptable only takes the kink out of kinky and makes it mainstream.
Guest post b
y Haider Shah
The other day I read Zahida Hina’s article in which asked the
So how about this argument that
I won’t name names but, right before Swat Operation, a very well-known left-wing figure of
I asked him if that was indeed his plan and he said that this was the right time and we, the Inqilaab-hungry people of
His reply was as disorienting as his plan was. And that’s what is aggravating me about our Left. Like Islamist Pakistanis who let their love for Islam decide everything, Left is letting its hatred for imperialist
If Left can focus on saving us wounded Pakistanis from our Military-Mullah-Nexus, I stand with them shoulder-to-shoulder. But please don’t make me a boy-toy in your juvenile goal of world dominance. We can always destroy
Trust Ejaz Haider to ask the most pertinent question post restoration of CJ Iftekhar Chaudhry. What’s next? Haider, a veteran journalist, writes that the issue must go beyond the person of the CJP to the institution of the judiciary and further on to the judiciary’s interaction with other institutions of state and society. And, to the gravest threat facing Pakistan: terrorism. The difficult part is yet to come.
The problem is; the difficult part is here & now, glaring at us in the face. Government of Pakistan and NWFP signed a deal with militants in Swat last month, practically handing most of Malakand division over to them. The deal, ironically called Nizam Adl Regulation (System of Justice Regulation), ran into snags when Tehrik Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi chief Maulana Sufi Mohammad asked judicial officers to stop coming to courts and said that any further court proceedings would be in violation of the agreement signed by the government.
The lawyers’ movement took on the case of CJ Chaudhry for the past two years and marched the length & breadth of the country, but will they take up the case of lawyers and session judges who are now given their marching orders by Maulana Sufi Mohammed. CJ Chaudhry was sacked by the president of the country (we are not going into the details of how credible was the election of the president) which raised the proverbial hell and rightly so. Now, this so called leader and cleric, who was jailed by the government until recently, threatens the judges and lawyers of the area and there is hardly any response to that, either from the lawyers’ community or civil society. I don’t expect champions of justice and democracy Imran Khan and Qazi Hussien Ahmed to breathe a word against this atrocity because it is brought on by their brothers in faith but what about the other upholder of democracy and rule of law Mr. Nawaz Sharif? Not a murmur from PML-N either. Does that mean that political parties in Pakistan can only stand up against the state machinery and burn and destroy public property, but cannot take on the militants who are hell bent on destroying the very fabric of society.
I am eagerly waiting for March 24th, the day CJ Chaudhry resumes office to see if he takes a suo moto action against this. After all, his claim to fame is the number of suo moto actions taken over a period of time. If he will not take this action, he will have to amend his title as suggested by Ejaz Haider to Chief Justice Pakistan sans Swat because the system Justice Chaudhry heads is not acceptable to Sufi Muhammad running his satrapy.
Lawyers’ movement played its part in the ouster of President Musharraf; can it play a part in dealing with terrorism and the likes of Taliban and Sufi Mohammed?
There is bizarre and there is bizarre and there are some things that are beyond bizarre, this has got to be one of them. Al Qaeda is responsible for introducing us to many crazy things such as OBL and mullahs of various shades, hues and varieties but the latest edict released by the Al Qaeda Iraq chapter is so preposterous and ridiculous, it’s not even funny.
They have imposed a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables like cucumber in the western province of Anbar.
A tribal Sunni elder, (a group that Al Qaeda is supposedly protecting) Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes from a former Al Qaeda stronghold in the west of Iraq said, “The Al Qaeda regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men.”
“They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram,” he added.
Other absurd stipulations include an edict not to buy or sell ice-cream, because it did not exist in the time of the Prophet, while hair salons and shops selling cosmetics have also been bombed.
I personally would not want to argue with this logic, if a cucumber is haram then it is haram, no question about it. But what I like to know, if I am allowed to ask such a question, why only cucumber? Why not ban a more popularly suggestive fruit like Banana? Why not ban Zucchini or Courgettes which I am sure must have felt extremely left out. After all, they too are equally suggestively shaped, if not more, and deserve to be banned like cucumbers. I would also like to know if it is only haram to buy the cucumber. Can a woman slice and dice and eat cucumber bought by men or is that too prohibited by the good leaders of Al Qaeda Iraq?
Similarly, if tomatoes are considered female, can man buy them? Can a man eat a tomato bought by a woman? If he cannot then can the tomato be used in cooking the food that a man will eat? After all, tomatoes lose their suggestive shape and men can eat them safely without ever having a lustful thought.
It seems that life under Al Qaeda was not only violent but also farcical.
Saudis take the cake for being the weirdest of people in a planet full of weirdos. Take this new item for example. A 50-year-old Saudi woman asked for divorce after her husband lifted her face veil while she was sleeping. For 30 years, the wife said she never showed her face to her husband in conformity with the tradition of her native village near the south western Saudi city of
“After all these years, he tries to commit such a big mistake,” the wife told Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh, after she left the house in total disbelief.
She said the husband apologized and promised never to do it again.
This is not the first case of husbands who have not seen their wives’ faces in decades.
In the past Ali al-Qahtani’s wife had been wearing the face veil for the entire ten years of their marrage. When he tried to take it off, she threatened to leave and only decided to stay after he swore never to try again.
Hassan Al-Atibi threatened to marry another woman if his wife didn’t show him her face. The woman nominated one of her friends who doesn’t observe this tradition as a possible new wife for him, saying this would be better than her showing her face.
And neither the husband or children of Om Rabea al-Gahdaray, 70, have ever seen her face. Al-Gahdaray says it is a family tradition, also followed by mother and sisters, which her husband accepted and never tried to change.
When asked how she could have kids without her husband ever seeing her face, she replied: “Marriage is about love, not faces.”
Now, is that convoluted or is that convoluted?