Can Secularism Help Pakistan?

Secularism must be embraced and should not be perceived as a threat to religion.

Source/Credit: The Express Tribune | Blog
By  Faraz Talat | September 13, 2011

The vox populi says “no”, and I understand that most readers would hold fast to this sentiment with earnest sagacity regardless of what I write here. But recognizing that this debate has been re-invoked by a popular article “Secularism does not equal tolerance”  about secularism not being a necessary prerequisite to religious tolerance, I beg to state my own case.

Firstly, I must stress (as many secularists do) that secularism is not an anti-religious system. It merely stipulates that the state affairs must not be influenced by religion, in acknowledgement of the fact that a nation is a collection of citizens with different religions, and putting one group’s religious laws on the pedestal would be unfair to the rest, who would want their own religious values to be prioritized.

Secularism is not an experimental model. It’s a tried-and-tested system that has consistently yielded splendid results. To emphasize this point, I’d like to talk about something I learned from an Irish friend of mine.

The image of Ireland following its independence and almost all the way up till the 70′s was a dismal one. With the Catholic group in power, an iron-fisted censorship board was established that banned films and magazines at the slightest hint of blasphemous or “immoral” content, and the artists and writers involved in these acts were punished.  Professors were frequently mistreated for teaching concepts which were not considered in line with the orthodox Christian beliefsReligious minorities faced unfathomable horrors as they were discriminated against by their government as well as the people.

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Categories: Pakistan

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