Express Tribune: Asma Jahangir.
The incarceration of an 11-year-old on charges of blasphemy and threats to her life, the shaving of the eyebrows and the head of a tailor for being tardy and the chopping off the nose, tongue and gouging out the eyes of an adversary during the Eid holidays should have sent shivers down anyone’s spine. In any humane society, under these circumstances, all public gatherings, including Eid khutbas, should have seriously addressed the sinister ways of using religion as a cloak in using perverse forms of violence. The disease is contagious and has taken deep root in Pakistan. Such violence is condoned, defended and glorified through some sections of the media. Names of influential perpetrators are blacked out, while the vulnerable victim and family members are grilled to death. Simply calling for a “report”, on the directives of the head of state of the country, is not enough. At the very least, the perpetrators should be arrested, their acts publicly denounced and persecution in the name of religion, especially against a child and that, too, from a minority religion, deprecated in the strongest way possible.
There is often doom and gloom in the country, but one had hoped that the Eid holidays will bring some calm. And they did indeed. Even cell phone calls were made unavailable for Eid enthusiasts. It was a strange kind of calm with news of barbarism the only entertainment. How in the world can any decent person rejoice, even at Eid, after reading that an 11-year-old has been sent to jail for presumably desecrating the Holy Scriptures? Those accosting and tormenting her wanted her blood. The keepers of the law pushed the poor child in prison, in the hope of appeasing her bloodthirsty neighbours. It is moments like these that make one question all faiths that can churn out such bloodthirsty followers. It is not simple bigotry (which by itself is unbearable) but the cruellest form of it mixed with a desire for blood — a child’s blood. Can one imagine the trauma of an innocent child being hounded and then locked away on the charge of blasphemy? If anything is heresy it would be to use religion to intimidate, persecute and harass people and that, too, a mere child.