Columns / Discourse / January 12, 2011

World Politics Corner: Weeding out disagreeables

In Pakistan, the controversy of the “blasphemy law,” Pakistan’s use of its penal code to punish blasphemy against Islam, has struck up more fire again, leaving room for vigilantism and rioting to come. The sensational sound-bite-based news is eating this up, labeling it a warning to moderates in Pakistan.

I would agree, but I would not limit this weeding out to Pakistan, though it has gained more news play because of the angry protests and tear gas used on protestors. These events have become hot video clips to post without relaying any real information.

The blasphemy laws were created in 1973, many years after the death of the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who must be rolling in his grave because of people’s fanatic adulation of him and the extremism in the country. To sum up the law, people may be sentenced to death for defaming Islam or the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

It was reported that at a protest in Karachi protestors shouted “we will sacrifice our lives, we will save the sanctity of the Prophet,” while throwing rocks at the police. The police then threw tear gas at them.

Now, undoubtedly this is a call against moderates, Muslim or not. But this trend of weeding out those that some disagree with is not unheard of – it has been happening worldwide since 9/11, most recently, but before that, too. Pakistan is making the news because it is sensational, just like the Tea Party was for a while. Or did everyone forget what the term RINO meant? Here’s a hint: Republican In N _ _ _ Only.

Basically, they want more Glen Becks, Sarah Palins and Michelle Bachmans in office. Scary isn’t it? They want the U.S. to officially be declared a religious nation. Yes, the Christian religion is a huge part of the history, but there is the 2nd Amendment separating the state from it and other religions. Plus, there are many other religions here, and in any case, which sect of Christianity is supposed to be in charge? Definitely not Catholics, I’m sure, they gave JFK too much crap for that already. But for the most part, other than many racist signs and strange statements from Christine O’Donnell, the sensationalism got old pretty quickly. Having gone to a Tea Party Rally in Galesburg, I know it wouldn’t make the news; it was boring and filled with humorous inaccurate information.

Moving away from the United States, what about Kuwait-my home. Over winter break, a journalist held a meeting at his home for the opposition to the government and has been detained ever since. A public rally was also dispersed using batons, injuring five to fourteen people including four lawmakers. Studies have shown that Kuwait is steadily getting a more conservative Parliament every year; it used to be a trendsetter in rights, such as desegregating schools by gender. This transformation of Parliament is allegedly advanced by the Prime Minister in an effort to amend the 1962 Constitution, and the opposition is calling it a suppression of freedom and democracy (funny, as this comes from the group that tried to segregate schools again.) Yet again, this is another attempt at weeding out people that don’t agree with you.

Now, most of this has been focused on getting rid of those pesky moderates – Kuwait is the exception. If we’re going to talk about freedom of religion though, moderation flew out the window a while ago in Europe with regards to all of Islam, Egypt with regards to Christianity, Pakistan with regards to, ironically, Moderate Islam and everything else, and of course the U.S. with regards to moderate Christianity and religious apathy/atheism (not that the two are equated).

Pakistan made the news. Egypt made the news. Kuwait briefly made the news. Yes, a few examples are not much to go by, but I also have a word limit. Other places, if you want to make the news, have a riot or something. In essence, but not in casualties, this is all the same thing. Are we really that opposed to views that are different from ours that we must eradicate them? Forget democracy, this is humanity we’re talking about.

Editor’s note: This week’s World Politics Corner was written on January 4, before the shooting in Arizona involving U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. The column is not meant as a commentary on last week’s tragedy.

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