Desperate Fasadis trying to change Sindhi culture

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Muezzin by day, musician by night

Shikarpur and other areas of Sindh have always been famous for their tolerant, syncretic Sufi culture — and sweets. Not suicide attacks. That is obviously something that cowardly Takfiri Fasadis are trying desperately to change. From kidnapping and forced conversions of Hindu girls, to attacks on shrines and target killing of Ahmadis and Shias, they’re at it full throttle. Funded by Saudis and other sources in the Middle East, they are building massive madrassahs throughout the provice, huge buildings that look threatening and unfamiliar in a landscape where the traditional mosques have delicate minarets and people of all religions and sects have lived together peacefully for centuries.

On Saif Samejo‘s rooftop in Jamshoro a couple of summers ago, we were treated to music by some local folk musicians from Mithi. I did some sketches with ballpoint as they jammed. The man who plays the bhorindo (string instrument), on the left, is the maulvi of a masjid. Muezzin by day, musician by night. When the floods hit in 2010, he was approached by JUD to rebuild his mosque. He refused because “If I took money from them, I would be made to say what they want and my masjid would not be my own anymore.”

Pakistanis against terrorism: global protest vigils #ReclaimYourMosque

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Shehroz Hussain was a foreign student from Pakistan, a freshman at college in the USA, when Taliban or their affiliated groups shot dead his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah, in front of his clinic in Peshawar in January, 2013. “In August 2012, as I stood at the airport to say goodbye to my family, I did not know I would never see one person again,” said Shehroz, speaking at a protest vigil last Friday in Boston’s historic Copley Square. “That person was the one with the most tears. He cried so much that relatives joked with him. I will never forget that night when I was woken up in the middle of the night on 9th January, 2013, to the sound of my crying brother on the phone: ‘Baba ko Maar Diya‘. They have killed Baba.”  Continue reading

India, Pakistan: Build on goodwill, not hate

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

I wrote this for The News on Sunday’s Jan 11, 2015 issue:

Build on goodwill, not hate

In the wake of escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, people on both sides of the border continue to express solidarity through peace initiatives

In an unprecedented and heart-warming gesture from India to Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Modi requested schools in his country to observe a two-minute silence to commemorate the children and teachers killed in the horrific attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar on Dec 16, 2014.

In another unprecedented, spontaneous show of solidarity, Indians began tweeting with the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan, started by Indian columnist Tehseen Poonawala who tweets from the handle @tehseenp. …  [Read more]

 

No country for Shia men!

The Indus Ripple

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The bus is stopped. People are pulled out. Without asking any questions armed men start filtering the crowd. Almost everyone is asked to get back inside the bus but your family is left behind. You suddenly realize it is because you look different. As everyone else around you look of Turko-Mongol decent your family and you look Indo-Aryan. In a matter of seconds you feel like you are in a foreign country amidst alien people. But your father and your mother were born and raised here in Pakistan.

Gun Shot! You are too scared to look who fell but you know it’s a kin. Your only fortune is that you won’t have to feel that agony and pain for long as the gun barrel is now pointing at you. Reverse the ethnic equation and that’s just how the Hazaras are made to feel in Balochistan. A pre-dominantly Shia ethnic group…

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Who said moderate Muslims are silent? Pakistanis plan rallies to #ReclaimYourMosque

Irfan 'Khudi' Ali: a legacy of love and activism

Irfan ‘Khudi’ Ali: a legacy of love and activism

A series of protests over the next few days will demand the arrest of the head cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and condemn the Takfiri thinking that has killed innocents in Paris, Peshawar and beyond. My article in Scroll.in, slightly updated below:

By Beena Sarwar

January 10 marks the second death anniversary of the smiling human rights activist Irfan “Khudi” Ali.

The recently married 33-year old was eating dinner at home in Quetta on that day in 2013 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a snooker club, killing 11. Ali rushed to help the injured and died when a second, more powerful bomb went off nearby minutes later, killing at least 86.

Both blasts targeted the Hazara Shia community of which Ali was a prominent member. He had in fact moved to Islamabad two years earlier due to threats, and was visiting his hometown when he died.

Commemorating his death and celebrating his life, his friends join others at vigils and demonstrations around Pakistan and the world marking other recent, shattering tragedies – the attack on the army public school in Peshawar on December 16 that claimed the lives of 148 innocent souls, most of them children, and the January 7 attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris that killed 12 people, including senior journalists and cartoonists. Continue reading

Who is Shafqat, why is he being hanged, and why should we care?

Shafqat is safe… for now. This is the second time he has received a reprieve at the last minute. Kudos to Justice Project Pakistan and everyone who raised their voices and fought to prevent a terrible injustice from taking place. This is just one of many such cases in Pakistan where the justice system leaves much to be desired. That’s one reason I’m against the death penalty. If even one innocent is sent to the gallows, it is too much. There are too many chances of that happening, even in a ‘good’ system.

On another level, he is the victim of another system, the social and economic inequalities that forced him, as a young boy of 14 to leave his home in Azad Kashmir and go to Karachi looking for work. That was ten years ago. His mother has not seen him since – they are too poor to make the trip.

Journeys to democracy

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago. Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

UPDATE: Jan 01, 2014: Funds urgently needed for Shafqat’s defence. Please click this link for details and see what you or your friends can do. Detailed BBC report Justice at risk as Pakistan rushes convicts to the gallows

This is Shafqat Hussain. A poor boy who was arrested for  kidnapping and murder when he was 14 years old. He confessed to the crime after nine days of police torture (they pulled out three fingernails, the cigarette burn marks are still visible on his body). He has been in Karachi jail for over 10 years now and is on the list of ‘terrorists’ to be hung (his date is set for Tues, Dec 23rd). He comes from a very poor family from Muzaffarabad, had a learning disability, had dropped out of school at grade 4, and run…

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Jan 4, 2015: Remembering Salmaan Taseer

SalmaanTaseer vigil file pic

Vigil for Salmaan Taseer: File photo

On  Jan 4, 2011, the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard who believed in the propaganda that had been orchestrated against Taseer falsely accusing him of ‘blasphemy’ (See: Salmaan Taseer: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination, my article for Viewpoint). Vigils commemorating him are planned in several cities around Pakistan. Here is the information I have about some of them:

* Islamabad:  Kohsar Market, 5 pm
* Lahore:        Liberty Roundabout, 5 pm – Facebook event
* Karachi:       Do Talwar, 8 pm – Facebook event

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