February 25, 2011

(Yet Another) Hate-mongering Alert:

Across Karachi are banners asking for Tehmina Durrani to be hanged.

Who has issued this call? Yet another ‘tehreek.’ This time it is one that calls itself the Tehreek-Tahafuz-e-Tableegh-e-Islam.

It takes offence to “a book written by Tehmina Durrani” in which she has allegedly slandered God’s Auliyas and Ulemas. The obvious reference seems to be to her book, Blasphemy, which deals with the exploitation of women at the hands of pirs – a certain pir and the way the supposed religious figure victimises the women of his household and community.

For anybody to deny that there are such ‘religious men’ who victimise and molest women and children would be atrocious. This, of course, does not mean that every such personality in this country does so. Still, there are those who do, and they get away with it. So hang them if there is anyone that should be hanged; however, the capital punishment debate is another one.

Misconstruing and misrepresenting the words of others seems to have become a favourite pastime of these ‘tehreeks,’ as has their zealous demand to hang people. (I’m sure they would much prefer to strike it off the Taliban way). And many people have cried themselves hoarse objecting to similar pamphlets and banners that spread lies about people and invite others to vehemently denounce, if not kill, them. And since there seems to be no shortage of Qadris or supporters of the likes of him, there is a very real possibility that this hate will result in another death.

What is anyone doing about this? Sadly, that is another tragic story. The people who have the power to do something lack the will, and those that have the will lack the power. If only ‘someone’ would state strongly that the lives of people will not be threatened and any person or organisation to do so will face dire consequences. But that call doesn’t come.

This article has not been written because the life of Tehmina Durrani, specifically, has been threatened. It is certainly not a protest to the life of an influential or a member of the elite being threatened. It is, however, a protest against threats made against the lives of people, human beings, who are the victims of such extremism. The masses, especially those that belong to the lower socio-economic groups, face the brunt of it all. It is their houses that are burned down. They are the ones hacked, stoned or tortured to death, and it is they who have to flee for their lives and live like refugees in their own country since they don’t have the facility of jumping on a plane and leaving.

Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.