POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2014 AT 23:40 IST ,  Edited At: Feb 27, 2014 23:40 IST

Way back in 2012, Salman Rushdie had called it a "piece of garbage", President Obama had appealed for its removal, his administration initially blaming it for the deadly September 2012 protests at the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya, but YouTube had refused to take off the Innocence of Muslims, a purported documentary on Prophet Mohammed's life, citing USA's freespeech provisions.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Feb 27, 2014 AT 23:40 IST, Edited At: Feb 27, 2014 23:40 IST
POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 07, 2013 AT 01:16 IST ,  Edited At: Apr 09, 2013 01:16 IST

I recently wrote a piece titled “Pakistan, myths and consequences”, in which I argued that Pakistan’s founding myths (whether present at birth or fashioned retroactively) make it unusually difficult to resist those who want to impose various dangerous ideas upon the state in the name of Islam. The argument was not that Pakistan exists in some parallel dimension where economic and political factors that operate in the rest of the world play no role. But rather that the usual problems of twenty-first century post-colonial countries (problems that may prove overwhelming even where Islamism plays no role) are made significantly worse by the imposition upon them of a flawed and dangerous “Paknationalist-Islamic” framework. Without that framework Pakistan would still be a third world country facing immense challenges. But with this framework we are committed to an ideological cul-de-sac that devalues existing cultural strengths and sharpens existing religious problems (including the Shia-Sunni divide and the use of blasphemy laws to persecute minorities). Not only do these creation myths have negative consequences (as partly enumerated in the above-linked article) but they also have very little positive content. There is really no such thing as a specifically Islamic or “Pakistani” blueprint for running a modern state. None. Nada. Nothing. There is no there there. Yet school textbooks, official propaganda and everyday political speech in Pakistan endlessly refer to some imaginary “Islamic model” of administration and statecraft. Since no such model exists, we are condemned to hypocritically mouthing meaningless and destructive Paknationalist and Islamist slogans while simultaneously (and almost surreptitiously) trying to operate modern Western constitutional, legal and economic models.  

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POSTED BY Omar Ali ON Apr 07, 2013 AT 01:16 IST, Edited At: Apr 09, 2013 01:16 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 12, 2012 AT 20:15 IST ,  Edited At: Nov 12, 2012 20:15 IST

Finally, 15 years after the literary feud between Salman Rushdie and John Le Carré erupted in the letters pages of the Guardian in 1997, the latter has told the London Times "that their mutual loathing has finally come to an end."

Back in 1997, Rushdie had accused Le Carré  of promoting censorship and had gone on to characterise him as a "dunce" and a " pompous ass.'' Christopher Hitchens too had jumped in the exchange and said that Mr Le Carré 's conduct reminded him " that of a man who, having relieved himself in his own hat, makes haste to clamp the brimming chapeau on his head." 

"Two rabid ayatollahs could not have done a better job. But will the friendship last?" Mr Le Carré had countered, pointing out that he was more concerned about saving lives than about Mr Rushdie's royalties, and that Mr Rushdie was ''self-canonizing'' and ''arrogant.''

Mr Rushdie was allowed the last word by the newspaper, and had gone on to say about Mr Le Carré:  It's true I did call him a pompous ass, which I thought pretty mild in the circumstances. "Ignorant" and "semi-literate" are dunces' caps he has skilfully fitted on his own head.

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Nov 12, 2012 AT 20:15 IST, Edited At: Nov 12, 2012 20:15 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 02, 2012 AT 23:58 IST ,  Edited At: Oct 02, 2012 23:58 IST

Javed Anand recently wrote in the Indian Express: On the other side of fear:

Yet there is something new and refreshing in the air. Read the statements of religious and political leaders as well as editorials and letters to the editor in Urdu newspapers. Take, for example, a letter by a Saudi Arabia-based Indian, Abdul Rehman Mohammed Yahya, published simultaneously as a boxed/lead letter in the Monday editions of three Urdu dailies in Mumbai: Inquilab, Rashtriya Sahara and Sahafat. The gist of the long letter is a rhetorical question addressed to fellow Muslims: “What did Prophet Muhammad do in the face of repeated insults heaped on him during his lifetime?” The answer: he forgave them.

It is a universal Muslim belief that the prophet never retaliated to repeated insults to him, through either word or deed. In fact, he taught his followers that “the wounds of words hurt more than the wounds of swords”. In other words, Muslims who hurt others through word or deed do violence to the teachings of the very prophet in whose name they claim to act.

Prof C.M. Naim responds in the same newspaper: Islamophobia and blasphemy

Surely, the present Muslim definition of “blasphemy” is not limited to “any insult to the Prophet of Islam”? Even in India, there are at least two prominent anti-“blasphemy” movements at play among the Muslims under the guise of “Tahaffuz” (Protection): Tahaffuz-i-Khatm-i-Nabuwat (Protection of the Finality of Prophethood), accusing the Ahmadis of “blasphemy”; and Tahaffuz-i-Namus-i-Sahaba (Protection of the Honour of the Companions of the Prophet), accusing the Shias of “blasphemy”. Not to mention the accusations of “blasphemy” against Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin. Second, while Anand is right in stating that it “is a universal Muslim belief that the Prophet never retaliated to repeated insults to him, through either word or deed”— and, indeed, the vast majority of Muslims live by that belief, and many may even try to emulate it in their own lives — it is also true that a few enemies of the Prophet were ordered by him to be mortally punished, including one or two who verbally abused him. A devout Muslim, therefore, may claim a right to follow whichever tradition suits his own inclination.

The issue should not be what the Prophet did or did not, for once we raise it we only fall into an easy trap. It becomes a conflict between only apparently equal claims of righteousness; quickly, it becomes another instance, at best, of sectarianism, and, at worst, of “blasphemy”. In any case, a devout Muslim may aspire to emulate the Prophet’s actions but by the same token can never claim to have done so. Yahya’s letter is a good sign, but so are also a few other articles. These are acts of personal piety, and one must be thankful for them. But the same boxed space — actually there is nothing special or prominent about it — in Sahafat (Delhi) that carried Yahya’s letter contained on September 29 a letter on the same subject of the video from a Muhammad Ziaur Rahman, department of Urdu, Delhi University, under the title: “Yahud wa Nasara Musalmanon ke Khullamkhulla Dushman (Jews and Christians are blatant enemies of the Muslims)”. Rahman claims, among other things, that on September 11 this year, the film Innocence of Muslims was shown in cinemas across the United States, and that the United States rained missiles on Iraq when a woman in Baghdad named Laila Al-Attar drew a cartoon of President George Bush [in 2003].


 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Oct 02, 2012 AT 23:58 IST, Edited At: Oct 02, 2012 23:58 IST
POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 19, 2012 AT 23:41 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 19, 2012 23:41 IST

 

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 19, 2012 AT 23:41 IST, Edited At: Sep 19, 2012 23:41 IST
     
 
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