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Lahore
Friday, May 20, 2022
EditorialReligious vigilantism

Religious vigilantism

In a gruesome episode of religious vigilantism, three female teachers of a seminary in Dera Ismail Khan have allegedly killed their former colleague after accusing her of blasphemy. According to the FIR, sharp objects were used and victim was found lying in a pool of blood with her throat slashed. Pathetically, the heinous crime was committed by teachers who are in the age bracket of 17 to 24 over “difference of opinion on religious issues”. The motive of murder is also very illogical as a dream about alleged blasphemy committed by the victim was the main reason for the murder. The incident is one of the negative effects of vandalism of extremist forces that are busy misguiding our new generation by poising their minds with extremism. In a country where religious fundamentalism has so vehemently branded itself on to the psyche of the common man, just a dream with a misguided interpretation is enough to make young teachers kill their unfortunate colleague who dared to challenge their ideology. It is an appalling incident. While the insanity of the brutal act is completely lost on the young teachers, the rest of their community will soon start celebrating this act of ‘bravery’. The daunting realisation that extremism and fanaticism, rampant within all facets of society, dominate the way religion is understood confronts us time and time again, and this incident too is a clear reflection of it. However, the sheer savagery of this act compels one to ask: have we really been driven to the edge of insanity in our subservience to the maulvis and mullahs that we now can kill our peers in order to acquire the status of a believer.

Unfortunately, the black and white mindset has coloured religious interpretation in such a way that people have turned religion, in its essence a potent force driven by rationality and reason, enjoining a way of being that is humane, merciful and tolerant, into a convoluted version that constantly demands violent acts from others and from one’s own self. The insanity has led us to close the doors to any debate or open discourse on matters even remotely related to religion. These beliefs are left to stew in the absence of any counter-narrative from the government, media or any other institution, which has allowed more harmful attitudes to emerge. This growing culture of peoples’ tendency to act as the religious vigilante is indicative of a larger issue. The government should heed the signs to strengthen Pakistan’s social structure and work towards the prosperity of the lower classes. Unless a public debate starts on the topic and the bullying power of Mullahs is taken away, such incidents of sheer injustice will continue. Change in thought, policies and attitudes is a tall ask in any given timeframe, yet there needs to be a conscious effort to harness values that encourage tolerance and harmony, even in an uncivilised society.

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