Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Sad State of Pakistan

I hope someday that Salman Taseer is praised as a hero of that country and his killer is resigned to the dustbin of history.

His eldest son speaks here:

Already, even before his body is cold, those same men of faith in Pakistan have banned good Muslims from mourning my father; clerics refused to perform his last rites; and the armoured vehicle conveying his assassin to the courthouse was mobbed with cheering crowds and showered with rose petals. 

I should say too that on Friday every mosque in the country condoned the killer's actions; 2,500 lawyers came forward to take on his defence for free; and the Chief Minister of Punjab, who did not attend the funeral, is yet to offer his condolences in person to my family who sit besieged in their house in Lahore.

And so, though I believe, as deeply as I have ever believed anything, that my father joins that sad procession of martyrs – every day a thinner line – standing between him and his country's descent into fear and nihilism, I also know that unless Pakistan finds a way to turn its back on Islam in the public sphere, the memory of the late governor of Punjab will fade.

And where one day there might have been a street named after him, there will be one named after Malik Mumtaz Qadir, my father's boy-assassin. 

I think it's important to stress that I don't believe that this is endemic to Muslims. Rather I believe that it's endemic to all fundamentalist fanatics, regardless of what holy book of the month club they choose to subscribe to. The difference is that different societies place different obstacles in the paths of these lunatics. We are very fortunate in the West, that the obstacles are placed considerably high. Ask yourself, do you believe for an instant that a Christian madman like Fred Phelps wouldn't do the same thing if he lived in a culture that permitted it?

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