RIP Mashal Khan – University Student, Latest Victim of Pakistan’s ‘Blasphemy’ Vigilantism

Here’s the story I wrote for The Wire about journalism student Mashal Khan and his barbaric murder on campus yesterday – a tragedy I felt quite gutted by and felt compelled to write about (text below). For a short, sharp analysis of the phenomenon that led to the brutality, read Raza Rumi’s piece in The Daily Times, ‘Blasphemer Hunting must Stop’.

Mashal Khan-poem

Facebook post by Mashal Khan with an Urdu couplet (roughly translated): Along the way sometimes I feel / As if those hidden eyes are watching me.

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Don’t snuff out the lights

The horrific murder of a journalism student lynched on a university campus in Mardan on April 13 after being accused of ‘blasphemy’, 2017 has revived the urgency of coming together on a joint platform with a minimum common agenda to uphold humanitarian values. Nothing will bring back Mashal Khan, a poet, self-declared humanist and “voice of the voiceless”, but we can at least try to ensure that no other mother loses her Mashal (light) to such barbaric ignorance and orchestrated violence.

We drafted this statement a few months after the massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar, signed by over a hundred activists, teachers, lawyers and other professionals as well as students in March 2015: Pakistanis against terrorism: Minimum common agenda against violence in the name of religion – below. Does it need to be amended or updated?  Continue reading

Online petition and GIA demo against invasive TV show

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

GIA demo in Karachi (file photo): Human beings must be treated equally, regardless of gender or sexual orientation

The Gender Interactive Alliance (GIA) has called for a demonstration against Abb Takk TV’s show Khufia for its gross invasion of privacy and human rights, to be held today, Monday Dec 30, at 4:00 pm at the Karachi Press Club. If you’re in Karachi, please show your solidarity by joining them. Also please read and sign this online petition “Act against AbbTakk TV for violating privacy and human rights

No to vigil-aunties: thousands protest media’s moral policing in Pakistan

A morning show broadcast in Pakistan on Jan 17, 2012, on Samaa, a Pakistani television channel, has catalysed what could well be the beginning of a media consumer rights movement.

In the show, Subah Saverey Maya kay Sath (Early Morning with Maya), the host Maya Khan, charges through a public park looking for dating couples to interrogate. With her is a battalion of other women, who join her in self-righteously lecturing the couples they come across – does your family know you are here, why don’t you meet at home if you are engaged, and, most outrageously, if you are married, where is your nikahnama (marriage certificate)?

When the harassed couples ask for the camera to be turned off, the Samaa team pretends to acquiesce but carries on filming with sound. As several people have pointed out, this intrusive behaviour could result in putting those couples in life-threatening situations in a country where forced marriages and ‘honour killings’ continue to be the norm. Continue reading

Act against vigilantism, incitements to violence

Endorse the Request for Suo Moto action against vigilantism, incitement to violence posted at the Citizens for Democracy blog

See report on Karachi citizens and their complaint filed against Sultan Masjid Imam for instigating violence (complainants included Shaan Taseer and Sherry Rehman)

When a kiss is not just a kiss

This tantrum at the Lahore University of Management Sciences about a peck on the cheek is indicative of the mentality (justifying vigilante action against perceived moral transgressions) that led security guards to shave the heads of a poor couple chatting under a tree at Faisalabad (formerly Lyallpur) Agricultural University.

See follow up letter from Ghazala Rahman about the vigilantism and harassment going on in Model Town Park, Lahore

Catch any mullah type condemning the attack on the co-ed (but segregated) Islamic University that killed so many students

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