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PAKISTAN: People from all walks of life condemn blasphemy

Journalists, writers and religious scholars say publication of cartoons is 'criminal act'

Dawn
Sunday, February 12, 2006

By Arman Sabir

Karachi --- People belonging to different sections of society, including intellectuals, poets, writers, journalists, politicians and religious scholars condemned the publication of blasphemous cartoon and termed it a criminal act.

People held protest demonstration at various places in the metropolis here on Sunday to condemn the publication of blasphemous cartoon in western media. They said that permission could not be given to anyone to disgrace Prophet (peace be upon him) on the pretext of freedom of expression and deplored the silence of western rulers over the criminal negligence which was equally against the concept of freedom.

Speaking at a protest demo, renowned intellectual and poet Jamiluddin Aali said it was a criminal act that the western powers had been encouraging the blasphemy act instead of containing it. The Islamic world should protest over the issue and boycott western products, he suggested.

Prof Sehar Ansari said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not only honourable to Muslims but to the whole world. The publication of blasphemous cartoon had brought waves of tremors in the ranks and files of Muslims across the world. He said that the biased attitude of the west had created awareness among Muslim world, which was a good omen.

He said there was no compromise in connection with the honour of the prophet. "Freedom of expression does not mean in anyway blasphemy of a religion," he maintained.

A senior journalist Sajjad Mir said the act of blasphemy was not a political issue but it was the matter of faith. People belonging to all sections of life should record their protest on this issue as the silence over the matter could lead to encouragement of western countries.

Columnist and poet Shahnawaz Farooqui said that the western world had made Muslims political slaves for the past many centuries and their freedom and social liberty were being trampled. He criticized the role of Muslim rulers for decay but the act of blasphemy could not be accepted at any cost.

Various political parties held protest demos and approved unanimous resolutions that diplomatic relations with Denmark and Norway should be severed forthwith, a social boycott be observed against those who had committed blasphemy act and an emergent meeting of OIC be convened. They urged people of the country to observe a peaceful strike on March 3 and participate in protest march.

Political leaders of different parties said that the president and the prime minister should either respect the emotions of 1.5 billion Muslims across the world or step down. They observed that the west could not take the views of a historian David Irving as freedom of expression, who proved the holocaust of 600,000 Jews during the Second World War as misconception in his book, and because of his observation, he was jailed in Austria.

Earlier, Senator Prof Ghafoor Ahmed said that it was not only the matter of freedom of expression but it was the freedom of hurting sentiments of Muslim world. "We should get confrontation from the west," he added.

He appealed to the secretary general of the United Nations and Pope to take notice of the grim situation.

The Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, Sindh President, Zain Ansari expressed his resentment over the attitude of the rulers and said that the west had shaken sentiments of Muslim but the rulers had been showing their pro-west behaviour by propagating the concept of "enlightened moderation". President Bush was an open enemy to Islam and Muslims and President Musharraf was supporter of Mr Bush, he added.

President Muslim Rabta Council Nusrat Mirza said that the Muslim Ummah was united against the blasphemy. He said that the Muslims across the world had to wage a joint struggle to foil evil designs of the west.

President Markazi Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadith Sindh Maulana Mohammad Yusuf Kasuri said that the west had trampled all moral norms and carried out continuous attacks on the honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). He said that those involved in blasphemy deserved death penalty.

President Markazi Jamiat Ulema Pakistan Haji Fazal Karim said that freedom of expression never allowed hurting emotions of people of any religion. He criticized rulers of Muslim countries and said that they did not play effective role except issuing stereotyped statements. He said that the acts being made in the west would increase the gulf between Muslims and the west.

Jaffaria Alliance Pakistan also observed protest demos against publication of blasphemous cartoon.

Addressing the protesters, Maulana Hasan Zafar said that conspiracies were being hatched to divide Muslims and the incident of Hangu was part of it. He said that diplomatic links be severed with those countries carrying out blasphemy acts.

Allama Abbas Kumeli said that Muslim forces were gathering on one platform and their enemies wanted to divide them. The blasphemy act was a conspiracy to dent Muslim unity. He said that the incident of Hangu was also an instance of a plot to divide Muslims.

Ameer Jamat Ahl-i-Sunnat Pakistan Allama Shah Turbul Haq Qadri said that the Islamic world had been passing through a sensitive period and anti-Islam forces in the west had initiated media war by attacking Islam, its ideology and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Addressing the protesters, he said that a procession would be taken out on Feb 16 from Quaid's mausoleum to Tibet Centre on M.A. Jinnah Road and appealed to people to attend the procession.

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