Fissures in the middle: Islamomania of Pakistan vs. Islamophobia in the West

Dawn:  |

 The most convenient understanding of the phenomenon of Pakistani extremists that one hears being echoed from TV studios and their favourite ‘guests’ suggests that young Pakistanis turning into religious fanatics has something to do with illiteracy and unemployment.

Though not entirely incorrect, this notion, however, is a lazy explanation.

It fails to explain the emergence of young religious extremists such as Omar Shaikh, Shahzad Tanveer and Hasib Hussain, and Faisal Shahzad. Each one of these young men came from educated, middle-class families.

Saying they were products of the western societies that they were raised in is a weak retort.

This attitude simply refuses to seriously address the issue of educated, young Pakistanis falling for an extremely myopic and nihilistic brand of the faith — something that was once explained as a vocation only of the illiterate and the financially desperate.


Omar Saeed Sheikh, the British Pakistani who studied at prestigious educational institutions like Aitchison in Lahore and than at UK’s London School of Economics was involved in the kidnapping and beheading of US journalist, Daniel Pearl, by radical Islamist organisations in Pakistan.  

There has been an alarming rise in the number of young, educated middle-class Pakistanis (here and abroad), embracing the most reactionary and anarchic strains of the faith, believing it to be a justified and logical portrayal of ‘true’ Islam.

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