Counter-Terrorism: Pray And Prey

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May 28, 2014: In Pakistan the notoriously pro-Islamic terrorist military and its intelligence agency (the ISI) has succeeded in shutting down criticism from the largest TV news operation (Geo) in the country by using trumped up charges that the station was guilty of blasphemy. This mobilized Islamic conservative groups to attack Geo and its employees. Geo had been criticizing the military for corruption and supporting Islamic terrorism and in response the military went after Geo in April, without success or much cooperation from the courts or other government agencies.

The military was angry with the Geo’s TV news channel for accusing the military of being behind an April 19th attack against a prominent TV journalist (Hamid Mir) who frequently criticized the ISI and the army during his Geo show. Mir survived the attack and the army denied it had anything to do with it. Similar attacks have been traced back to the army and ISI in the past. In Pakistan it’s understood that openly criticizing the ISI or army can have unhealthy consequences. The army first tried using jammers to block Geo from being received on military bases and also banned newspapers that were also making these accusations. The military then mobilized its political and media allies to back this attack on Geo, which resulted in the fake blasphemy charges and repetition of these charges in Islamic and pro-military media. On May 26th Geo surrendered and printed and broadcast a groveling apology to the military and ISI over the issue.

This use of baseless blasphemy charges in Pakistan is an old problem. The controversy over military support for Islamic terrorism masks yet another national travesty; religious persecution via blasphemy charges. Each year, thousands of Pakistanis, mainly Christians and Shia Moslems, are killed, kidnapped, raped or imprisoned on false charges of blasphemy against Islam. Most of the time there are no formal charges, just various Islamic terrorist or vigilante groups using blasphemy accusations as an excuse to attack non-Moslems. Pakistan is a leader in this kind of religious violence, although Islamic nations, in general, tend to be the most violently intolerant.

There are many examples of this. In 2013 a Christian neighborhood in Lahore came under repeated attack by several thousand Moslems when someone accused a local Christian of being disrespectful of Islam. Over a hundred homes were burned down and much property damage was caused. Hundreds of Christians then demonstrated demanding that the government do something to stop this sort of violence. Police then acted and arrested at least 150 suspects but nothing much happened after that. 

In 2011 during an eight week period two senior Pakistan politicians have been murdered for speaking out against blasphemy laws. While the government went through the motions of prosecuting the arrested killer of the governor of Punjab province, and seeking the killers of the Religious Minorities Minister (a Christian), there was no big public outcry against these crimes. Instead, the killer of the Punjab governor was hailed openly by lawyers and clerics, and quietly by many government officials. The Taliban took credit for the second murder, and promised more, if any officials continued to criticize blasphemy laws.

Violent religious intolerance is still very popular in Pakistan. It is a major problem there, one that was inflicted on the country in the late 1970s when the government (at the time run by a general) decided to back Islamic conservatives, who promised that more religion would result in less corruption and a more virtuous society. It didn't work out as expected. Electing religious conservatives to parliament soon revealed that these guys could pray and prey at the same time. Not only were Islamic conservative politicians capable of corrupt behavior, but they were also quicker to use violence, including murder, to get their way. While only a minority of Pakistanis, the Islamic radicals are more willing to kill, and be killed, to achieve their goal (a religious dictatorship and, if neighboring Iran is any example, a corrupt one at that.) Because of their use of terror, the Islamic radicals dominate Pakistani politics. The future is bleak for Pakistan because of all this.

In 2009 Pakistani lawmakers made an effort to repeal many of the pro-Moslem laws passed in the last thirty years. These laws (like the ones against blasphemy) make it easier for Islamic radicals to persecute their enemies. Many corrupt officials and politicians use false charges of blasphemy to steal property or damage political or business rivals. There is now general agreement that Islamic radicalism has not been good for Pakistan. The 2009 reform effort failed in the face of death threats and attacks on politicians by Islamic radicals. Now the Islamic terrorists have taken on the largest media outlet in the country and won.

 

 


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