20 is the latest number on deaths on the ‘Ishq-e-Rasool (SAW)’ day. We have gone past that stage where numbers can traumatize us since Karachi has seen days where blood came even cheaper. The first day after BB death claimed 47 lives, 12th May 2007 alone claimed some 40 persons. But what is traumatizing for the 21st of September is that all 20 persons were killed in the ‘friendly fire’. Both sides (govt. and protestors) had accepted the philosophy of protest, only the ways of expression differed. This shows that as a society, the difference in interpretations on topics like religion, democracy has evolved to such a wide spectrum of opinions that we can kill but not reconcile.
Just a day before the protests, three times Pullitzer award winning columnist Thomas L. Friedman tried to show mirror to the Muslim world in his NY Times piece ‘Look in your mirror’. The wave of sentiments was so hot after the killing of American envoy in Libya and anti American protests that he set out to rebut the claims of Muslim world that ‘We never insult any prophet — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?’
His piece got immediate support in western world and attention in the Muslim world when he gave links to speeches and fatwas by Musim clerics (from Egypt to Pakistan) where the ‘maulvis’ have labelled Christians and jews the right target to kill. He went on one step further and pointed out the anti shia happenings in majority of Muslim countries.
I was shocked as I was being shown the mirror, but then Mr Friedman forgot the point he came to rebut … a claim by an Egyptian demonstrator ‘we never insult any PROPHET — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?’ The claim still stands tall as the veteran columnist just skirted around the issue.
And how can we insult the prophets of Abrahamic relgions as they are part of the Muslim beliefs. But, here are some of the justifications given by the protestors and the questions that might pass anyone’s mind if he/she possesses some fearless curiosity:
- If the people of US are responsible as well because by principal of democracy they selected their government, then are we as people be judged responsible for the acts of Zardari government as well?
- If a protest on such a large scale be held because they defamed the Prophet (SAW), then on the same analogy does it give Ahmedis the right too to come out in open as their prophet is a target of humiliation by Muslims on a daily basis?
- If holocaust denial is allowed in US (as there is no law in US, which prohibits people to deny Holocaust), does it then give them the right of free speech? Or is US and Europe (which has laws prohibiting holocaust denial) the same?
And if some of the sanest voices are heard from the mob, which call for the banning of all European products, does it hurt us more or them? For instance has our economy got the channels to accommodate 197 thousand farmers, who sell the milk to Nestle, or the capacity to accommodate 30 thousand jobless persons if Telenor leaves instantly? Yes, this solution would help the mob, as it will surely add more people to the crowd protesting!
It’s like watching Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal Emperor) living on the pension by the Britian crown trying to lead a mutiny!
But, US has lost key ground, if it ever gained any in the Muslim world. By acting neutral in the face of injustice does not count as an act at all and is blamed from both the sides. Republicans are targeting Obama for being too apologetic and Muslims are targeting him for not incriminating the film makers.
Point to be taken is that the jewish lobby is so strong that even though holocaust denial is not prohibited in US, we can’t imagine a movie being made on this subject. Jews are fighting their case on the US ground. And here, we are fighting our case by burning our own ground.
But, then again, when has the mob listened to anyone. And these 20 deaths will not be the first ones or the last. 2,400 years ago, when in Athens, the jury wished to pardon Socrates, the mob voted for his death. He drank hemlock (poison) in the end. Some say he sacrificed his life but saved philosophy. I wonder what these 20 people have saved.