While we all have responded in different ways to the recent murders of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, we also need to push for the regulation, definition, and prosecution of hate-speech so freely aired by the mullahs.
In a recent set of Friday sermons recorded by activists associated with Mashal Books, one aspect of this hate-speech becomes very clear: almost all the mullahs from different sects of Islam are more concerned with demonizing and castigating their sectarian others, instead of focusing on the socio-political issues that affect lives of common Pakistanis.
(Those interested in listening to a sample of these sermons can find them on our blog: http://pakistaniaat.net).
The impact of this unbridled hate-speech is further accentuated by the free expression of such hate through the regular Pakistani media channels. Thus, in case of Pakistan, while the secular public sphere has seriously diminished, the avenues for hate-mongers have increased both in terms of physical spaces and digital and news media.
We saw that in the wake of Salman Taseer’s murder, not many so-called Ulama were willing to speak up against this act of murder and the same happens to be the case with the murder of Shahbaz Bhatti.
The media, in fact, were overeager to show the accolades being offered to the murderer by the people. Some critics have also suggested that Salman Taseer’s murder was probably caused by the false image of Taseer created by the media.
There is, therefore, a need for Pakistani government to legislate against hate-speech and then implement the law against those who still incite hate about other groups, especially minorities.
There is a difference between expressing one’s opinion and making one’s opinion so absolute that only the annihilation of our opponents seems to be the correct option.
We need to force our government to take note of the actions and words of these hate-mongers, for only then we would be able to transform our public sphere into a place for civilized conversations instead of what we have now: a one way street of death.
(Published by Pakistani Bloggers)