I may not have liked his politics but I know that Governor Salman Taseer was not a blasphemer and that clergymen misled our religious-minded people into believing Mr. Taseer was a blasphemer which probably resulted in a 26-year-old man committing a heinous crime that even Muslim law does not condone.
I accused two vocal minorities in Pakistan of killing Taseer. One is the fringe religious extremists. And the other fringe, the westernized extremists.
People are free to be westernized or religious. I have no problem with either. My problem is with extremists from both groups. The westernized extremists venture out to ridicule religion, and the religious extremists take an easy and tolerant religion like Islam and deform it into something unheard of in Muslim history.
I discussed this in detail in my column, Taseer's Real Killers: Two Extremist Pakistani Minorities, which was published by The News International.
In that column, I compared the passionate debate in Pakistan over the anti-blasphemy law to the American national debate between liberals and religious conservatives on abortion a few years ago. And I condemned how some American and British commentators and government officials tried to link an internal Pakistani debate to the war in Afghanistan, two completely different things. [Some American and British commentators tried to justify the failed war in Afghanistan by suggesting that that war is about Muslim-secular divide.]
Some Pakistani liberals emailed me protesting the use of the term westernized extremists. They said westernized Pakistanis are not violent as some religious extremists are like the man who assassinated Mr. Taseer.
My answer is: liberals and religious Pakistanis are not violent. Only the extremists among them are. It is true that a westernized extremist may not carry a weapon, but when he tries to eliminate a substantial and legitimate segment of religious Pakistanis, he or she is setting off a chain reaction that is bound to turn violent at some stage because religion is involved. Respect must be shown in this debate.
The following is how I briefly profiled a westernized Pakistani extremist:
We know who religious extremists are, those who go to extremes not sanctioned by our Prophet PBUH.
Now we should also know the westernized extremists, these are people who ridicule their compatriots who are religious, make fun of religion, don’t understand that to be liberal doesn’t mean that you oppose religion or oppose the right of another Pakistani to be religious. A westernized extremist is someone who can’t differentiate between opposing extremism and opposing religion, who thinks to be a liberal is to go to war with anyone who has a religious mind and heart. A westernized extremist is someone like Sherry who is right in wanting to amend or repeal the blasphemy law but she is NOT RIGHT in saying death should not be a legal pubishment for blasphemy. She not right because this penalty is part of the Islamic legal jurisprudence and part of Pakistani laws even without the blasphemy law, and so she doesn’t have the right to single-handedly decide if it’s right or wrong.
It ok if you want to be westernized or religious, just don’t go to extremes and divide Pakistanis along religious vs. secular, etc. We have more urgent problems in this country than these ‘imported debates’. They are imported because some western writers start this debate and some of our own buy it and think that’s all what we should be debating.