(Na)Pakistan: The Land of the (Im)Pure

pak

Written by Saeed Umer Abassi

The case for separation of religion and state in Pakistan has been made by atheists, agnostics and non-believers.

I argue that case, as a believer.

In Islam, God is the supreme authority. His Will creates, sustains and destroys the Universe. He is the ultimate judge of human beings based on their thoughts, words and deeds.

What need has this Almighty God for mortals to legislate in His name? What does it benefit Him whose Law is eternal and universal to have the laws of men perpetrate injustice and cruelty?

The teachings of religion on love, benevolence and justice can better politics; but why otherwise corrupt the sanctity of religion with blood, power and greed? Why further divide humanity “in creation of one essence and soul?”

Why do Pakistanis need a state to save their souls when it does not fill their bellies? What need has Islam or God for the Hudood Ordinance, the Blasphemy Law and the murder of its people in His name? What has sixty-eight years of Pakistan done in the name of Islam and God?

The Persian sage and poet Sadi remarked in the Gulistan:

Oh! Though above all human though supreme,
Above our every word or deed or dream,
Thy service closes and we quit the Mosque
Yet of Thy meaning, scarce have caught a gleam

If the mosque has failed to bring Pakistan closer to Islam or to God, then nor will all of the Islam-pasand politicians, mullahs and mujahideen of the Land of the Pure.
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‘Freedom from religion: An essential right for all’ by Joyce Arthur

Uddari fully supports our right to live free of all religions.

The integrity of the Conservative government’s newly minted Office of Religious Freedom is already in grave doubt after 10 days of pointed criticism. It’s a noble-sounding endeavour, but it suffers from too many unanswered questions, glaring incongruities and serious omissions.

Given that it’s the right-wing Conservative government behind the initiative, it carries a high risk of being Christian-centric, with a primary focus on the persecution of Christian minorities. Another purpose may be to help ensure the government’s future electoral chances by pandering to its Christian constituency, as well as a handful of other religious groups that were invited for consultation. Further, the new agency could divert attention and resources from other human rights issues. Why does the cause of religious freedom deserve its own office in a world filled with deep poverty, violence, discrimination against women, environmental degradation, and a host of other ills and human rights violations? John Moore points out: “It’s all the more cynical when you consider that this government regards our own Charter of Rights and Freedoms as liberal puffery.”

Confidence is not increased by the appointment of the Office’s new ambassador, Dr. Andrew Bennett. Harper has hailed Bennett as a scholar even though he has virtually no published writings and his academic experience consists largely of being a part-time dean and teacher at a tiny evangelical school in Ottawa. A devout Catholic, Bennett subscribes to his college’s Statement of Faith, which requires strict doctrinal adherence to a fundamentalist version of Christianity and the literal truth of the Bible, including the virgin birth and resurrection of the dead. I do not discount the possibility that Dr. Bennett is a great ecumenical guy who truly respects and values religious diversity, but let’s not forget that devout Christians are taught that they are right, everyone else is wrong, and it’s their god-ordained duty to convert all heathens and infidels before the imminent return of Jesus.

The very existence of an Office for Religious Freedom raises serious questions about the separation of church and state, and whether it’s possible for a government office to be impartial. And when faced with the Hydra monster of religion, how can the Office possibly pick and choose its casework fairly, while satisfying its constituents at the same time? With a tiny budget and small staff, it’s hard to believe that the new Office will have even a snowball’s chance in hell at making a dent in the rampant religious persecution around the world.

The Office’s website waxes on about countries and regions where “rights to freedom of religion or belief are being threatened,” and how the Office will protect and advocate on behalf of “religious minorities under threat.” But who is doing all this threatening? It’s almost as if the Conservative government wants us to assume that tinpot dictators and evil atheist conspirators are behind attacks on religious believers. In fact, the culprits are largely theocratic governments or other faith groups: “Jon Stewart poses the problem with an economy of words: ‘Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.'”(from Dawg’s Blawg)

How will the Office of Religious Freedom negotiate the highly volatile terrain of religious strife and intolerance between competing groups, without seeming to favour one faith group over another, and without risking an angry backlash or even violence from the side doing the persecuting? Moreover, the understanding of religious freedom takes many different forms, especially in a culture with a religious majority. The protection of one group of adherents might lead to discrimination against another vulnerable group. Catholic schools in Ontario recently claimed that anti-bullying legislation violates their religious beliefs because it requires them to allow gay-alliance clubs in school, even though about 21 per cent of LGBTQ students are bullied compared to about 8 per cent of non-LGBTQ students.

What other religious “freedoms” might the new Office be urged to protect? The “right” to harass women outside abortion clinics? The “conscience” of hospitals that let women die if they need life-saving abortions? How about the “right” to teach creationism and attack evolution in public school science classrooms? Maybe the funding of a Christian anti-gay group in Uganda with its “kill the gays” law? Or the “right” of orthodox Jews to send women to the back of the bus?

Finally, let’s not leave out the “right” of religious beliefs and holy books to be immune from criticism, as enforced through blasphemy laws in many countries — which brings us to a final and major criticism of the Office of Religious Freedom. In most theocracies, religious minorities at least have some rights, but the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI) that, “In many parts of the world the very existence of atheism is outlawed, in some cases punishable by death.”

Yet John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs and a key player in the formation of the new Office, ignorantly stated last September:

“We don’t see agnosticism or atheism as being in need of defence in the same way persecuted religious minorities are. We speak of the right to worship and practice in peace, not the right to stay away from places of worship.”

report on global discrimination against non-believers was submitted to the US Department of State last year by several atheist and humanist groups. The report documents numerous prosecutions against non-believers in 47 countries, largely through blasphemy or apostasy laws. The following breakdown of countries is my own, derived from the report, and it illustrates what I see as the key problem:

–  21 countries give specific recognition and protection to Christianity, including 13 in Western Europe plus Poland, and 8 in Africa or Latin America.

–  20 countries are officially Islamic or have a largely Islamic population.

–  Four have other religious majorities (Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish), and one has a roughly equal mix of Christians and Muslims (Eritrea).

–  Only one secular country with broad religious diversity is cited (Russia).

Prosecutions of non-believers for their lack of faith or for criticizing religion occur almost exclusively in countries that favour one religion over another, or religion over non-belief. This points to the best way to protect religious freedom for all — secular societies with laws that protect not only freedom of religion, but freedom from religion. The latter is just as much a universal right, because whether one has religious beliefs or not, we all need to be free from having the belief systems of others imposed upon us. In reality, most religious persecution is a product of one religion being intolerant of another religion, with both being equally intolerant of those with no religion. Unfortunately, the new Office of Religious Freedom seems to have no inkling of this, which does not bode well for its future success.

It wasn’t until the press conference launch of the new Office on February 19 that the government suddenly declared that non-believers would be included too, after being challenged on the issue. “All people of faith and, again, those who choose not to have faith, need to be protected, their rights need to be respected,” said Dr. Bennett.

As an atheist, I don’t feel reassured by this last-minute hasty add-on, given the Conservative government’s prior total ignorance of the often-horrific persecution of non-believers around the world. However, the Centre for Inquiry Canada has more optimism. The group (full disclosure: I’m a member) issued a joint statement with Humanist Canada applauding the efforts to include all religious perspectives, and offering to help the new Office with information and ongoing consultation on the challenges and persecution faced by non-believers across the world.

I talked to Michael Payton, CFI’s Executive Director, who sees the potential for good in the Office’s creation. He emphasized that there are many examples of extreme human rights violations because of religious beliefs. “If resources were there that could help stop that, I think overall the world would be a better place. And if there’s an opportunity to protect non-believers too, we want to take it up.” He acknowledged the potential for the Office to be abused, saying: “We’ll be monitoring the Office very closely to make sure they stay true to their commitment, protecting freedom from religion equally as they would for freedom of religion.” However, Payton was concerned about the total lack of consultation with atheist/humanist groups before the official launch. “We’ve been left out of this process. We were quite insulted that we weren’t invited.” He also decried the language on the Office’s website, which still focuses solely on the right of religious minorities to practice their faith: “The language is wrong, it doesn’t apply to us. Even to use that language is a back-handed type of discrimination,” but adding that “this takes a backseat to people being executed for apostasy.”

Time will tell whether the Office of Religious Freedom will fulfill its potential to protect both religious and non-religious minorities. But I wouldn’t advise you to hold your breath — or pray.

Joyce Arthur works as a technical writer and pro-choice activist, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, a national pro-choice group in Canada.

From Rabble.ca
http://rabble.ca/columnists/2013/03/freedom-religion-essential-right-all#.UTDYBACjgXM.facebook

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Holier Than Life ‘زندگی سے مقدس تر’ by Fauzia Rafique – Urdu rendition Shamoon Saleem

رمشا مسیح کیس اور بابوسر میں 19 شیعہ مسلمانوں کے قتلِ عام پہ احتجاج کی نظم

زندگی سے مقدس تر

ہاں، آج میں اک مُہر ثبت کرتی ہوں
قرآن کے اک صفحے پر
اس معصوم کے نام کی
جسے کل اسلام کے جانثاروں نے
اس کی توہین کے الزام میں
قتل کیا ہے

میں مہر ثبت کرتی ہوں
ہندوؤں اور ان گنت احمدیوں کی اپنے وطن سے ہجرت کی
اور کل کی خبرمیں سے
ان انیس شیعہ مقتولوں کے ناموں کی
گیارہ برس کی اس بچی کی گرفتاری کی
اور موت تک زدوکوب ہونے والے اس عیسائ جوان کی
جو دونوں ذہن میں کچھ ہلکے تھے، سادہ تھے
مگر دل میں موتیوں سے شفاف تھے

چلو دل کی بات رہنے دو
مگر ذہن کی ہلکی اور سادہ تو میں بھی ہوں

میں اس ورق کو جلاتی نہیں ہوں
میں کتابوں کے ورق جلانے میں یقین نہیں رکھتی
میں اسے پھاڑتی بھی نہیں ہوں
میں بے سود تخریب میں یقین نہیں رکھتی

میں اس پر سیاہ حرفوں میں
مہر ثبت کرتی ہوں، ”قاتل“ کی
ہر اک مقتول کے نام کی سرخی سے

یہ دیکھنے کو کہ
کتاب کے نام پہ کتنے قتلوں کی گنجائش
قاتلوں کی اس کتاب پہ ہے

یا کبھی یہ دیکھ سکنے کو کہ
کس کتاب کے قاتلوں کا جتھہ
بالآخر تمغہ جیتتا ہے
تورات کے نام پر فلسطین میں
قران کے نام پہ پاکستان یاایران میں
انجیل کے نام پر ویتنام میں
یا تریپیتکا کے نام پہ برما میں

ہاں، آج میں اک مہر ثبت کرتی ہوں
قرآن کے اک صفحے پر
اس معصوم کے نام کی
جسے کل اسلام کے جانثاروں نے
اس کی توہین کے الزام میں
قتل کیا ہے

اور اے جاں نثارو
مجھے بےوقوف مت بناؤ
اپنے متشدد مظاہروں سے
کہ تمہیں قتل کا مقدس حق تفویض ہے
کسی بھی کتاب کی تقدیس کی خاطر
کسی بھی نام کی تقدیس کی خاطر
یا کسی بھی شے یاجگہ کی تقدیس کی خاطر

زندگی سے مقدس تر کچھ نہیں ہو سکتا
دل سے مقدس تر کچھ نہیں ہو سکتا
جو دھڑکتا ہے، ایک خوشی بھرے مستقبل کی امید میں
محبت کرتا ہے اور جیتا ہے
ایک پھول، ایک پرندہ،
اک گھاس کا سبز تنکا
وحشیو، تم مجھے اپنے
طیش آور مظاہروں سے بیوقوف مت بناؤ
خود زندگی سے مقدس تر
کچھ نہیں ہوتا

فوزیہ رفیق
ترجمہ: شمعون سلیم

View English original
https://uddari.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/holier-than-life-by-fauzia-rafique/
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‘Blasphemy, Religious Hatred, and the United Nations’ by Austin Dacey

In the wake of the furor over Innocence of Muslims, we are hearing renewed calls to criminalize blasphemy under international law from the halls of the United Nations. This comes a little over a year after the so-called Islamic states retired a discredited, decade-long campaign to combat “defamation of religions” (and legal coherence).

Meanwhile, the 1966 human rights treaty banning “advocacy of religious hatred” remains in force. Indeed, it is precisely such a charge that has the Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan and the Russian punks Pussy Riot locked away at this moment. What more could one want?

Those who study the history of blasphemy laws are condemned to repeat themselves: These laws don’t work. Unless what you are after is more blasphemy. Consider the case of India.

In September 1917, Muslim villages in the Shahabad and Gaya districts of the Indian state of Bihar were besieged by tens of thousands of rioting Hindus, who for days ranged in mobs looting and destroying homes, desecrating mosques, and stealing cattle. By their end, the Shahabadriots had resulted in assaults on 150 villages, 176 serious injuries, and 41 deaths.

What caused this carnage? The ceremonial slaughter of cows by members of the local Muslim community in celebration of the religious festival of Id Al-Adha.

British colonial records document eruptions of such inter-community violence throughout the nineteenth century. Today these tensions are ratcheted up by the opposing political agendas of Hindu nationalist and Islamist movements.

This tragic legacy has unfolded not despite but alongside robust laws prohibiting “outraging the religious feelings” of others. These laws were installed under British colonial rule ostensibly to manage and mitigate precisely this kind of interfaith strife.

The Indian Penal Code was drafted in 1837 by the Indian Law Commission under the chairmanship of Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay and eventually adopted in 1860. It is “a truth which needs no proof,” wrote the Commission, that there are “many persons of such sensitive feelings among the higher ranks of the Natives of India” for whom “insults have as great a tendency as bodily injuries to excite violent passion.”

But the Indian Penal Code’s criminalization of religious offense in its Article 295 — the ancestor of the infamous blasphemy laws of Pakistan, as well as Bangladesh — has not solved the problem. It has institutionalized the problem.

The law legitimizes and incentivizes outrage. Where the incensed reactions might be seen as religious demagoguery inciting extrajudicial murder, in the context of Article 295 they can be seen as agitation for the reign of justice and the enforcement of a duly enacted law. Where they might otherwise be nothing but impotent rage, with the help of the law they can be tactics that succeed in removing the offending practice — if only for the moment.

Furthermore, the law expanded the meaning of blasphemy, generating new opportunities for outrage. Traditional Islamic law, for example, recognizes the offense of sabb al-rasul, insult to the Prophet. But an insult to the Prophet obviously is not equivalent to feelings of outrage about just any sacred values. A legal system crafted to encompass Hindus, Muslims, and Christians created a standard that went far beyond any of their religious doctrines: the standard of respect for all believers.

The law quite literally wrote new blasphemies into being.

Consider Urdu literature’s first “angry young woman,” Rashid Jahan. Jahan, a young medical doctor, made her literary debut in a 1932 anthology called Angarey (Embers), a critique of contemporary Indian Muslim society — in particular the conditions endured by women — denounced by local clerics and conservative papers as an “Absolutely Filthy and Foul” pamphlet of blasphemies.

Rashid Jahan and her three fellow contributors were threatened with death by stoning and hanging. In March 1933 the authorities of Uttar Pradesh state government intervened, confiscating and destroying all but a handful of copies of the book under Article 295’s protection of religious feelings. The law helped to turn a critique of Islamically-based gender inequality into a blasphemous affront to Muslims.

Whose interests are served by generating new opportunities for outrage that are legitimized and incentivized by law? Those who benefit most are the most extreme voices — like Angarey’s most implacable enemies — who anoint themselves as representatives of the outraged and thereby claim authority and consolidate power within the community.

The lessons of this history are clear. If you want to bring about greater reverence for your sacred values, laws against blasphemy won’t help. If, on the other hand, you want to boost your bids for power and authority within your religious community, they are a god-send.

From Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/austin-dacey/un-blasphemy-laws_b_1915920.html

Related content at Uddari
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique
The Clowns of Blasphemy by Fauzia Rafique
Blasphemy vendetta: Pakistan 1990-2009
Search Uddari with keyword ‘blasphemy’ for more.
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Blasphemy: Another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform – Don’t Support It This Friday

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Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday

‘Honour Killings’
Description

Where women, and some men, are harassed and killed by the male members of their families on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of the family’, but actually to keep control of the property and sexuality rights of women.

Male members are supported by the local authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, and other influentials, in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control of women through extreme punishment is presented by the mainstream culture as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani society.

‘Honour Killings’ support male control and power over all women, but most women who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you support ‘Honour Killings’?

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Blasphemy
Description

Where non-Muslim and Muslim men, and some women, are killed or required to be killed by the extreme religious Muslim groups on the pretext of ‘saving the honour of Islam and its prophet’, but actually (1> to keep control of the property and civic rights of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects, and (2> to use it as a Muslim-mob-generating hysterical street weapon for their petty political ends.

The extreme religious Muslim groups are supported by the local Muslim authorities such as the police, jirgas, civil and army administrators, politicians, lawyers, educators and other dignitaries in propagating and committing these violent and abusive crimes.

This vile concept of control over minority communities through extreme punishment is presented as a crucial part of the ‘moral fibre’ of Pakistani Muslim society.

‘Blasphemy Killings’ support the control and power of Muslims of a majority ruling sect over all non-Muslim and minority Muslim communities, but most people who actually get killed are the poorest in a city, town or village.

Do you Support ‘Blasphemy Killings’?

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Blasphemy is another ‘Honour Killing’ Platform.
Please Don’t Support It This Friday
Or Ever After!

From
Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws
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‘On the Freedom to Offend an Imaginary God’ by Sam Harris

In Hyderabad today, a man was booked for blasphemy simply because he refused to participate in the protest happening in the city against ‘Tauheen-e-Risalat’, the Insult to the Prophet. The situation indeed is deteriorating, now all one has to do to be booked for life or be killed by a mob, is to refuse to participate in this religious madness. And, what does the Government of Pakistan do? The Government responds by declaring this coming Friday as the Love of the Prophet Day. This is ‘officializing’ the hype and the inherent violence of the concept of blasphemy, and, it is shameless capitulation to and appeasing of the extreme right. The following article points to similar dynamics of capitulation and appeasement on the international scene. Uddari
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The latest wave of Muslim hysteria and violence has now spread to over twenty countries. The walls of our embassies and consulates have been breached, their precincts abandoned to triumphant mobs, and many people have been murdered—all in response to an unwatchable Internet video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” Whether over a film, a cartoon, a novel, a beauty pageant, or an inauspiciously named teddy bear, the coming eruption of pious rage is now as predictable as the dawn. This is already an old and boring story about old, boring, and deadly ideas. And I fear it will be with us for the rest of our lives.

Our panic and moral confusion were at first sublimated in attacks upon the hapless Governor Romney. I am no fan of Romney’s, and I would find the prospect of his presidency risible if it were not so depressing, but he did accurately detect the first bleats of fear in the Obama administration’s reaction to this crisis. Romney got the timing of events wrong—confusing, as many did, a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for an official government response to the murder of Americans in Libya. But the truth is that the White House struck the same note of apology, disavowing the offending speech while claiming to protect free speech in principle. It may seem a small detail, given the heat of the moment—but so is a quivering lip.

Our government followed the path of appeasement further by attempting to silence the irrepressible crackpot Pastor Terry Jones, who had left off burning copies of the Qur’an just long enough to promote the film. The administration also requested that Google remove “Innocence of Muslims” from its servers. These maneuvers attest to one of two psychological and diplomatic realities: Either our government is unwilling to address the problem at hand, or the problem is so vast and terrifying that we have decided to placate the barbarians at the gate.

The contagion of moral cowardice followed its usual course, wherein liberal journalists and pundits began to reconsider our most basic freedoms in light of the sadomasochistic fury known as “religious sensitivity” among Muslims. Contributors to The New York Times and NPR spoke of the need to find a balance between free speech and freedom of religion—as though the latter could possibly be infringed by a YouTube video. As predictable as Muslim bullying has become, the moral confusion of secular liberals appears to be part of the same clockwork.

Consider what is actually happening: Some percentage of the world’s Muslims—Five percent? Fifteen? Fifty? It’s not yet clear—is demanding that all non-Muslims conform to the strictures of Islamic law. And where they do not immediately resort to violence in their protests, they threaten it. Carrying a sign that reads “Behead Those Who Insult the Prophet” may still count as an example of peaceful protest, but it is also an assurance that infidel blood would be shed if the imbecile holding the placard only had more power. This grotesque promise is, of course, fulfilled in nearly every Muslim society. To make a film like “Innocence of Muslims” anywhere in the Middle East would be as sure a method of suicide as the laws of physics allow.
What exactly was in the film? Who made it? What were their motives? Was Muhammad really depicted? Was that a Qur’an burning, or some other book? Questions of this kind are obscene. Here is where the line must be drawn and defended without apology: We are free to burn the Qur’an or any other book, and to criticize Muhammad or any other human being. Let no one forget it.

At moments like this, we inevitably hear—from people who don’t know what it’s like to believe in paradise—that religion is just a way of channeling popular unrest. The true source of the problem can be found in the history of western aggression in the region. It is our policies, rather than our freedoms, that they hate. I believe that the future of liberalism—and much else—depends on our overcoming this ruinous self-deception. Religion only works as a pretext for political violence because many millions of people actually believe what they say they believe: that imaginary crimes like blasphemy and apostasy are killing offenses.

Most secular liberals think that all religions are the same, and they consider any suggestion to the contrary a sign of bigotry. Somehow, this article of faith survives daily disconfirmation. Our language is largely to blame for this. As I have pointed out on many occasions, “religion” is a term like “sports”: Some sports are peaceful but spectacularly dangerous (“free solo” rock climbing, street luge); some are safer but synonymous with violence (boxing, mixed martial arts); and some entail little more exertion or risk of serious injury than standing in the shower (bowling, badminton). To speak of “sports” as a generic activity makes it impossible to discuss what athletes actually do, or the physical attributes required to do it. What do all sports have in common, apart from breathing? Not much. The term “religion” is scarcely more useful.

Consider Mormonism: Many of my fellow liberals would consider it morally indecent to count Romney’s faith against him. In their view, Mormonism must be just like every other religion. The truth, however, is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has more than its fair share of quirks. For instance, its doctrine was explicitly racist until 1978, at which point God apparently changed his mind about black people (a few years after Archie Bunker did) and recommended that they be granted the full range of sacraments and religious responsibilities. By this time, Romney had been an adult and an exceptionally energetic member of his church for more than a decade.

Unlike the founders of most religions, about whom very little is known, Mormonism is the product of the plagiarisms and confabulations of an obvious con man, Joseph Smith, whose adventures among the credulous were consummated (in every sense) in the full, unsentimental glare of history. Given how much we know about Smith, it is harder to be a Mormon than it is to be a Christian. A firmer embrace of the preposterous is required—and the fact that Romney can manage it says something about him, just as it would if he were a Scientologist proposing to park his E-meter in the Oval Office. The spectrum between rational belief and self-serving delusion has some obvious increments: It is one thing to believe that Jesus existed and was probably a remarkable human being. It is another to accept, as most Christians do, that he was physically resurrected and will return to earth to judge the living and the dead. It is yet another leap of faith too far to imagine, as all good Mormons must, that he will work his cosmic magic from the hallowed ground of Jackson County, Missouri.

That final, provincial detail matters. It makes Mormonism objectively less plausible than run-of-the-mill Christianity—as does the related claim that Jesus visited the “Nephites” in America at some point after his resurrection. The moment one adds seer stones, sacred underpants, the planet Kolob, and a secret handshake required to win admittance into the highest heaven, Mormonism stands revealed for what it is: the religious equivalent of rhythmic gymnastics.

The point, however, is that I can say all these things about Mormonism, and disparage Joseph Smith to my heart’s content, without fearing that I will be murdered for it. Secular liberals ignore this distinction at every opportunity and to everyone’s peril. Take a moment to reflect upon the existence of the musical The Book of Mormon. Now imagine the security precautions that would be required to stage a similar production about Islam. The project is unimaginable—not only in Beirut, Baghdad, or Jerusalem, but in New York City.

The freedom to think out loud on certain topics, without fear of being hounded into hiding or killed, has already been lost. And the only forces on earth that can recover it are strong, secular governments that will face down charges of blasphemy with scorn. No apologies necessary. Muslims must learn that if they make belligerent and fanatical claims upon the tolerance of free societies, they will meet the limits of that tolerance. And Governor Romney, though he is wrong about almost everything under the sun (including, very likely, the sun), is surely right to believe that it is time our government delivered this message without blinking.

Sam Harris is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Moral Landscape, and Free Will. The End of Faith won the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction. Harris has been published in more than 15 languages.

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/on-the-freedom-to-offend-an-imaginary-god

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FOLLOW BLOG: http://lifethelove.wordpress.com/
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Make UN Recognize ‘The International Day Against State Religion’ – Sign This Petition

This petition, asking United Nations to recognize a day in the year as The International Day Against State Religion, will help us around the world to root out religious sentiment, and concepts such as blasphemy, from legal and social systems. It will help us move away from incidents like the sectarian murders of 19 Shia Muslims, and the blasphemy arrest of minor Rimsha Masih.

The initiative has been taken by Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, and we need to take it forward by siging this petition, sharing the links, and inviting our friends and colleagues to do the same.

Sign the Petition

Petition for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

To,
The Secretary-General,
United Nations,
UN Headquarters,
New York.

Please take active, effective and meaningful steps for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

The life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as good as hell thanks to the “State Religion” of Pakistan. Thus, the need of the time is to declare that the “State Religion” is hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, are on the record: religion has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thus, he spoke on August 11, 1947 in his 1st Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan against the “State Religion”.

None of the members of the Parliament of Pakistan has cared to pay respect to the eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan since August 11, 1947. The proof is the “State Religion” in the Constitution of Pakistan.

None of the Parliamentarians of Pakistan is ready and willing to heed the ideas of the Founder of Pakistan on the relation of Religion and State.

Under these facts and circumstances, it may be the humane duty of United Nations to recognize and celebrate the 11th day of August, 1947 as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION in the name of the Universal Human Rights in solidarity with non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

Let the United Nations come for the help of the victims of the “State Religion” in Pakistan as well as around the globe. And, let the 11th day of August, 1947 be recognized as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.

Sign the Petion
http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion-5

Sincerely,
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Contact Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Blog: http://saynotothestatereligion.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gmlakho

Official Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Day-Against-State-Religion/106460822743085

Also, if you haven’t yet,
Please sign the petition to help release Rimsha Masih
http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/freerimshamasih

A poem for the 19 murdered Shia Muslims, and the arrest of Rimsha Masih
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique
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