Islamic terrorism has become a serious threat to the world. According to a news report by VOA, majority of Islamic terrorist attacks happened in Muslim states. Pakistan is a country which has suffered heavily from terrorism in past few decades. More than 40,000 Pakistanis have been killed in terrorism between 2000 and 2016.
Combating of terrorism necessitates eliminating its root causes because military operation alone will not bring sustainable peace. But the government has started a new war against irreligion in Pakistan because they believe that atheism is far more ‘dangerous’ than terrorism!
The recent crackdown against Pakistani freethinkers began when some religious extremists filed a petition in Islamabad High Court. The petitioners requested the court to take notice of ‘blasphemy’ on social media. Justice Shaukat Aziz, who is a hardline conservative Muslim overreacted to the case. He equated ‘blasphemer’ atheists with terrorists in his remarks. The extremist judge threatened law enforcement agencies and media regulatory authorities to remove what he believes ‘blasphemous’ content from social media or face contempt of court charges.
It is pertinent to mention here that Justice Shaukat Aziz Saddique is the same judge who had put a complete ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations in Pakistan earlier this year. Justice Saddique is a very controversial person. Besides being an extremist Muslim, corruption references have also been filed against him in the same court.
Aftermath of Islamabad High Court ruling on social media blasphemy proved disastrous for Pakistani atheist minority. Hundreds of ‘un-Islamic’ websites were blocked in Pakistan. Several social media pages, groups and accounts of ex Muslim atheists have also been suspended. Pakistani authorities are warning public to refrain from ‘blasphemy’ in cyberspace or they could face death sentence for ‘insulting’ Islam.
I’ve never insulted Prophet Muhammad or Islam on social media. I just criticize my ex religion in a polite way but I’m still receiving abusive and threatening messages. Someone has reported this ‘non blasphemous’ atheist post on my timeline to FIA Cyber Crime Cell for no apparent reason.
Law Enforcement Agencies arrested atheist bloggers for blasphemy. Ayaz Nizami, the vice president of Atheist & Agnostic Alliance Pakistan (AAP) is among those who have been arrested in state’s crackdown against irreligion. Mr. Nizami is an ex Muslim scholar who renounced Islam many years ago. He works for equal human rights and to end controversial laws often used to persecute minorities in Pakistan. He’s never posted any disrespectful remarks about Islam on social media. As a matter of fact, he has been jailed just for organizing Pakistani Atheists. His remarkable research regarding Islam in Urdu language is something Pakistanis couldn’t tolerate because we’re becoming an increasingly intolerant society. Freethinker bloggers like Ayaz Nizami are being trailed in anti-terrorist courts — that’s adding insult to injury!
But what makes us terrorists? We don’t kill people, rape women and children, rob banks or even encourage violence on social media, yet they call us ‘terrorists’. And this is not just the government but common Pakistani Muslims are also going crazy over social media ‘blasphemy’. Soon after the authorities confirmed arresting atheist bloggers, #HangAyazNizami hash tag became the top trend on social media.
Top Hats and Champaign, a famous YouTube channel explains in this video why Pakistanis demand to publicly ‘hang’ Ayaz Nizami just for being an atheist in a ‘Muslim’ state. Where extremists and even so called ‘moderate’ Muslims are demanding death sentence for atheist bloggers, we don’t see any secular human rights activist in Pakistan playing his role to save their lives.
Nobody in my country demands ‘public hanging’ for convicted terrorists, murderers, rapists and pedophiles but they believe that ex Muslim atheists should learn harsh ‘lessons’ for criticizing Islam. Blasphemy law is often used to victimize minorities and influential religious people use it to settle their personal matters. When someone tries to bring reforms in these controversial and inhuman laws, he also becomes the victim of Islamic extremism. This madness should be ended. Atheism is not a crime; there’s no law in Pakistan against renouncing Islam or ‘apostasy’. However, the reality is quite different. We have to live undercover; we can’t publicly renounce Islam. It’s officially forbidden for a Muslim to convert to another religion or become an atheist.
Muslims are allowed to preach Islam and build their mosques in non-Muslim countries of North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. So there’s nothing wrong if we promote our peaceful and modern ideology in Islamic states like Pakistan. International organizations for human rights should take notice of deteriorating human rights situation in Pakistan. Amnesty International is against death penalty for any crime and these innocent bloggers have been accused of something which isn’t even a real crime. Nothing is more important than human rights and free speech is everyone’s basic right in today’s world!