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Protecting the killers: A response to Dawn blog on confining religious processions – by Sabah Hasan

Related post: What can Pakistan and the entire world learn from Pakistani Shias?

Text of the blog published on Dawn.com

Low-key Ashura

22 November 2012In a week since the commencement of Muharram, at least 16 lives have been lost to targeted sectarian attacks on Imambargahs in Karachi and Rawalpindi. In addition, there have been reports of bombs being defused and removed from sensitive areas in the run up to Ashura. This, in spite of the government’s restrictions and bans on the use of mobile phones and motorbikes, among other preventive security measures.

It is clear that given the current security situation of the country, it would be wise to remain cautious during a sensitive period such as Ashura. There have been suggestions to curb the threats of attacks on Muharram processions by taking alternate routes that comprise roads which are less frequented and congested. Meanwhile, some officials have also urged people to try and remain indoors and hold their religious gatherings away from sites that are commonly targeted by assailants, especially in the wake of sectarian violence.

Is it wrong, then, for officials to suggest that processions be kept low-key affairs and in smaller numbers? There remains a great deal of respect towards the religious zeal and emotions of Shias during Muharram, however, would it be better to take preventive measures during rallies and processions, especially when thousands of innocent lives are at stake?

Would indoor gatherings, lesser number and smaller sizes of processions help avert threats that are known to lurk on such religious events?

The number of attacks and deaths that have occurred during these seven days is already close to the figures from last Muharram and with the increasing number of threats and bombs being found, would it not be sensible to try and lessen the damage by acting cautiously?
Souce: http://dawn.com/2012/11/22/low-key-ashura/

 

Once a wolf entered a village an created havoc. The village elders ordered preparation of a very, very large cage. When the cage was ready, all the villagers were invited to attend its inauguration. Expecting that now attempts will be made to to entrap and cage the wolf, they were somewhat surprised when the elders asked all of them to enter the cage, so that they could be locked in and protected from the wolf. But they chanted “Pakistan Zindabad” any way. You see, the name of their village was Pakistan.

I strongly agree with what has been suggested by the anonymous writer. In fact I will take it further to encompass the following:

* The GHQ has been attacked. So let us keep our brave armed forces indoors.
* FIA and police establishments have been attacked. Let us protect our law enforcers by not making them go out on streets and roads.
* Five-star hotels have been bombed. Let us close down all hotels and restaurants.
* Girls’ schools have been torched. Let the girl child sit it out at home instead of following the instruction to even go to China for education.
* Universities have been targeted. Let us close down all institutions of higher learning.
* Jinnah Hospital was bombed. Do I have to even say what we need to do here?
* Juma congregations have been attacked, and so have churches. Let us stop all religious activity not approved by terrorists.
* Sunni Barelvi Milad un Nabi gathering at Nishtar Park was bombed. Let’s restrict them to a less open space.
* Raiwind ijtema and the likes have never been attacked. That’s one area that is not problematic. Let it continue freely.

In the end where shall we be sitting? Yes, you are right. Right there in our cosy little homes, except for those attending the ijtema at Raiwind or attending illegal (as per Pakistani law) gatherings addressed by the likes of Ludhianvi and Malik Ishaque. And when they come for us in our homes, what do we do? Isn’t it obvious: leave for cool climes of Switzerland and leave governance of Pakistan to the terrorists. As for the latter, my suggestion may be a bit late, for haven’t we already done so?

In parting I would ask you do you share my feeling of there being the situation of being more loyal than the king? What is our objective in the exercise suggested by the anonymous writer? To protect the lives of state’s Shia Muslim subjects. Right? But has someone asked if those idiots even want it? A cursory study of history shall tell us that they do not have this as their priority. in the good old days of Umayyad and Abbaside caliphates when such pious eminences as Hajjaj bin Yusuf and Mutawakkil Billah ruled the Muslims, these dumb-heads got their limbs cut (as required by the Muslim caliphs) just to have a go at visiting Karbala. More recently, they gave their lives in thousands during Saddam’s rule in Iraq or the Taliban’s emirate in Afghanistan just to continue azadari. Even today, they pay with their lives in Saudi-occupied Arabia and its colony of Bahrain to have that privilege.

If our federal and provincial governments lack the competence to protect the 42,000 aza processions they have themselves licensed, the solution obviously is to discontinue the processions rather than continue measures as taken heretofore to protect them, including, if necessary, by cracking down not just on known and publicly roaming mass-killers, but more so on the terrorist making factories, that are seemingly the madrassahs of a particular school of thought (Deobandi and Wahhabi) that publicly apostatizes Shia and Sunni Barelvi Muslims who, incidentally, comprise together the majority of Pakistani population.

PS: Now the liberal media too is getting off the fence and picking a side! Shame on Dawn newspaper on conducting a blatantly anti-Shia poll. pic.twitter.com/7JQSpfOS

About the author

Taj

Ali Abbas Taj is the Editor of Let Us Build Pakistan.
@aliabbastaj on Twitter

95 Comments

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  • Comments from a different thread on LUBP:

    Rai Naveed says:
    November 24, 2012 at 11:28 am
    رانا ثنا اللہ باہر نکلو اپنے گھر سے! اور دیکھو پاکستان کے ہر حصے میں جلوس عزا برآمد ہوچکے ہیں! عزاداری کو چار دیواری میں محدود کرنے کی کوشش تھماری ناکام ہوگئی!

    رانا ثنا اللہ گھر سے باہر نکلو اور دیکھو ہر طرف صرف حسین(ع) حسین(ع) ہے!! یزید کا لشکر جیت کر بھی ہار گیا! حسین(ع) کا لشکر 14 سو سال بعد بھی میدان میں ہے!! “لنیک یا حسین”

    http://www.facebook.com/shiakilling3/posts/453903357979641

    Chowrangi says:
    November 24, 2012 at 11:30 am
    Text of the controversial Dawn blog which is most probably written by Ali Chishti or Mosharraf Zaidi (Shia phobes):

    Low-key Ashura
    DAWN.COM

    22 November 2012

    In a week since the commencement of Muharram, at least 16 lives have been lost to targeted sectarian attacks on Imambargahs in Karachi and Rawalpindi. In addition, there have been reports of bombs being defused and removed from sensitive areas in the run up to Ashura. This, in spite of the government’s restrictions and bans on the use of mobile phones and motorbikes, among other preventive security measures.

    It is clear that given the current security situation of the country, it would be wise to remain cautious during a sensitive period such as Ashura. There have been suggestions to curb the threats of attacks on Muharram processions by taking alternate routes that comprise roads which are less frequented and congested. Meanwhile, some officials have also urged people to try and remain indoors and hold their religious gatherings away from sites that are commonly targeted by assailants, especially in the wake of sectarian violence.

    Is it wrong, then, for officials to suggest that processions be kept low-key affairs and in smaller numbers? There remains a great deal of respect towards the religious zeal and emotions of Shias during Muharram, however, would it be better to take preventive measures during rallies and processions, especially when thousands of innocent lives are at stake?

    Would indoor gatherings, lesser number and smaller sizes of processions help avert threats that are known to lurk on such religious events?

    The number of attacks and deaths that have occurred during these seven days is already close to the figures from last Muharram and with the increasing number of threats and bombs being found, would it not be sensible to try and lessen the damage by acting cautiously?

    http://dawn.com/2012/11/22/low-key-ashura/

    Haider Toori says:
    November 24, 2012 at 11:31 am
    حسین(ع) کا سر قلم ہو گیا لیکن نیزے کی نوک پر ذکرِ الہی جاری رہا، عباس(ع) کے بازو شانوں سے جدا ہو گئے لیکن محمد(ص) کا پرچم اسلام بلند رہا، میثم تماّر کی زبان کاٹ لی گئی لیکن دار پر سے علی(ع) کی ولایت کا اعلان جاری رہا۔ یزید عصر اور اس کے ریال خور مزدور سپاہِ صحابہ اور لشکر جھنگوی آخر کیوں یہ بھول جاتے ہیں کہ شیعہ اسی حسین(ع) و عباس(ع) و میثم(ع) کے پیروکار ہیں، ہمارے جسم دھماکوں سے ٹکڑے ٹکڑے ہو جائیں لیکن ہمیں موت نہیں آتی، ہمارے سینے گولیوں سے چھلنی چھلنی ہو جائیں تب بھی ہم عزاداری کرتے رہیں گے، ہم یا حسین(ع) یا علی(ع) کہتے رہیں گے اور عزاداری کے دشمن سدا جلتے رہیں گے.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=110236282476090

    Shah Nawaz Khan says:
    November 24, 2012 at 11:33 am
    Muharram, contrary to the popular perception, is not merely an event or episode in history, revolving around a grief-centric ritual. It is a philosophy, a concept, and a movement, that will always have contemporary significance, in every time and age. The threat of injustice and tyranny will always have contemporary significance. Muslims of the world commonly observe and commemorate Husain’s sacrifice each year, remembering his redemptive suffering for the greater good of humankind. Even 1500 years on, these annual commemorations have not lost their significance, but on the contrary have become even more powerful and potent. Mahmoud Ayoub writes in his book Redemptive Suffering in Islam: A Study of the Devotional Aspects of Ashura in Twelver Shi’ism, ‘in the ritualistic moment, serial time becomes the bridge connecting primordial time and its special history with the timeless eternity of the future. The eternal fulfillment of time becomes the goal of human time and history.”

    http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?283080

    Yasin says:
    November 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    First they want to confine Shia processions to Shia mosques and Imambargahs. They will then ban it there, the way they are doing to Shias in Egypt (or Ahmadis in Pakistan).

    ………..

    Police bar Shias from Ashura ceremonies inside Hussein Mosque
    Egypt Independent
    Sat, 24/11/2012 – 18:36

    Police stopped a number of Egyptian Shias from entering the Hussein mosque in Cairo Saturday afternoon, to celebrate the day of Ashura, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram said on its website.

    A force from the Gamaliya Police Department was stationed on Friday in front of the main door of the mosque to inspect worshipers before prayers, and security forces prevented a number of Shias from entering and ordered them to perform afternoon prayers at other mosques nearby. Mosque management also closed the Imam Hussein shrine.

    The move came after Walid Ismail, chairman of a Sunni Muslim group, filed a complaint with the police demanding they prevent any Shia rituals inside the mosque honoring the martyrdom of Hussein.

    The Endowments Ministry said it supported the minister’s decision to prevent celebrations inside mosques, and Al-Azhar issued a statement warning against celebrations on Ashura. It added that the day was for fasting and worship, and it stressed Egypt’s Sunni identify and condemned what it described as “heretical” practices in celebrating Ashura.

    Ashura is the day where Muslims mourns the death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed who was killed in 680 AD in Karbala, Iraq, by the armies of the caliph Yazid. The day is particularly significant for Shia Muslims, who gather in large numbers and sometimes beat their chest as a sign of mourning in honor of Hussein. The Hussein Mosque is believed by many worshippers to contain Hussein’s head.

    Sunnis recognize the first four caliphs as the Prophet Mohamed’s successors, while Shias believe that he named his son-in-law Ali as his true successor. The dispute has continued up until today, and the ongoing Sunni-Shia split has fueled instability and strife in some countries in the region.

    http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/police-bar-shias-ashura-ceremonies-inside-hussein-mosque

    Yasin says:
    November 24, 2012 at 5:19 pm (Edit)

    Healing scars: In G-B, Muharram blurs sectarian differences
    By Shabbir Mir

    Published: November 24, 2012

    GILGIT: The religious harmony apparent at a Muharram procession in Gilgit on Friday suggests the scars left by bloody sectarian strife do not have to haunt the region and its people forever.
    Dozens of Sunnis led a mourning procession in the heart of the city, where until recently Shias and Sunnis were victims of violent incidents stage-managed by extremist elements. The move is also a blow to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which had threatened to attack Muharram processions in Gilgit-Baltistan. G-B’s administration was informed of these threats in a letter by the interior ministry last week.
    A Sunni delegation comprising elders and the youth from Kashrote and Yadgar areas convened at the Imambargah in Majini Muhalla, where they joined hundreds of mourners.
    “We are here to show support and solidarity for peace and sectarian harmony,” said Mutawali Khan, a senior member of the Masjid Board, a representative body of Shias and Sunnis formed to address a spate of violence which ultimately led to the imposition of curfew in the area in April.
    “It is a message to the rest of our countrymen to live and let others live peacefully,” said Khan, who has seen at least five houses burnt to ashes in sectarian clashes near his own residence.

    The gesture was not lost on the Shia community. Walking in tandem, people from both sects made it clear the division along sectarian lines was not etched in stone – or rather, did not have to be.
    This will also ease the otherwise tense atmosphere of the city. Incidents of violence around the city and on the adjoining Karakoram Highway this year have claimed the lives of nearly 70 people, and left several others injured or emotionally scarred.
    Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said the occurrence was rare, but not a first. “It’s a rare occasion as it happened after three decades. Congratulations to all those who made it possible,” Shah said at a ceremony where he also distributed compensation cheques among relatives of those killed in recent attacks in Gilgit, Lalusar and Kohistan.
    “We are not made to fight each other,” said Shah, implying that anti-state elements, and not the region’s people, were the cause of this unrest.
    He reminisced about the time when Sunnis used to serve water to mourners during Muharram.

    Published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2012.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/470524/healing-scars-in-g-b-muharram-blurs-sectarian-differences/

  • This ‘article’ by me was actually a comment on the ‘Dawn’ blog. After 18 hours of awaiting moderation, it has finally been deleted by them!

  • Youth guard Ashura: ‘I may be tired, but I am not afraid’
    By Rabia Mehmood
    Published: November 25, 2012

    A young girl offers prayers on burning coals during Muharram. PHOTO: APP

    LAHORE: Shivering from a mixture of adrenalin and nerves, Farwa Sajjad took up guard duty outside the Jamia-tul-Muntazir in Lahore’s Model Town, the evening of Muharram 6.
    The petite 18-year-old was on edge after news reached of the attack on Rawalpindi’s Dhok Syeddan, which claimed 23 lives just hours earlier. However, when she saw a woman charging toward the gate of the Imambargah, knew what she had to do.
    “Farwa went after her, thinking she is a bomber, the shock has left her with a fever now,” explained Zahra Naqvi, one of the three young women on volunteer security outside the Jamia. Fortunately for all concerned, the woman was not a suicide bomber but an over-enthusiastic mourner eager to hear the Majlis.
    As Pakistan grapples with a surge in sectarian violence, hundreds of young people in Lahore, like Farwa are placing themselves in harm’s way amid growing doubt that the state is capable of providing security. The trust in the police to afford any kind of protection is at an all-time low.
    Inside the small tent like make-shift partition, set up for the women devotees’ body search, Farwa took rest while her two friends strictly checked each woman and even their babies.
    “Aunty you cannot bring a huge handbag and please next time, use a transparent bag for Niaz (food for distribution among mourners and devotees) too,” said Zahra Naqvi with an authoritative tone, to the slightly annoyed woman attendee of the Majlis.
    “We do not care what people think about us being strict, this is for their own good and protection, they must understand and follow the rules,” Naqvi said, in between the alert body searches.
    Meanwhile, Saba Syeda Naqi, one of the trio on duty, and their course mate at the religious school of Shia Islam inside the Jamia-tul-Muntazir, explained how the girls ended up working security.
    “We were asked by our teachers at school, because after the Gamay Shah attack, we needed to protect our own and there is a huge difference between our security and police’s,” she emphasised.
    “We cannot trust the police, you see they just fulfill the formality, and we satisfy our hearts through this security too.”
    The Karbala Gamay Shah Imambargah, the main site of Shia Muslims’ procession, saw suicide bombing which killed at least 18 and injured scores, on the death anniversary of Caliph Ali (RA), on Lahore’s Lower Mall, in September 2010.
    After this attack, on the following Ashura in 2011 and at the current one the community has made a concerted effort to call young volunteers for security.
    “We were at the procession and the security was not enough,” said Naqvi.
    “That is why my cousins and I volunteer in different parts of the city during Muharram.”
    Right outside the women’s security tent on the main road, two male students of the Jamia, were on duty checking male attendees. On the main road, leading toward the Jamia, armed policemen were standing on pickets, but the final and thorough check was being done by the youth volunteers.
    Lahore has had a Haidri Scout Volunteers group for years, but the primary job of the group had been providing first aid to the mourners during the Ashura procession, and then help distribute sabeel or food.
    Nabeel* a 21-year-old volunteer for the Nisar Haveli, one of the central sites of Lahore’s main Ashura procession discusses the trust deficit towards the state.
    “We do not trust the police’s body search at all. So we ensure that we should at least do those ourselves,” he said.
    Other than the Ashura procession of Nisar Haveli which concludes at Karbala Gamay Shah, Model Town has been the site of another procession attended by thousands since partition in Lahore.
    Rakhshanda Zaidi or Baji Rakhshanda as she is known by those who visit the Jamia-tul-Muntazir regularly is the organiser of security in the women’s section and looks after administrative affairs.
    Baji Rakhshanda said, “The government is soft on the Taliban and groups attacking the Shia Muslims, there is definitely a lax in security somewhere, which leads to the sectarian groups attacking us.”
    Media creates fear: Rana Sanaullah
    The Punjab government has been criticised for their inability to control sectarian outfits like the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) with roots in the province and now operating in their midst.
    Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah holds the media responsible for the prevailing fear among the people of Pakistan and especially the Shia Muslims.
    “We have had bombings with very high death tolls in Punjab, but now the tolls are not as high, but the entire nation is scared, which is primarily due to the media’s focus on terrorists’ conquests.”
    Sanaullah adds that the image of the terrorist as the winner and the security forces and government as the losers is constructed by the media.
    “We try our best and have increased the security. The routes are well-guarded. But in an open arena, with thousands of people gathered at one place, ensuring that the security is foolproof is not possible,” Sanaullah says.
    “It is not that the rituals of Ashura take place within closed walls, where it would be easy for us to provide foolproof security, but we do try our best.”
    Sanaullah lamented that the policemen on security duty need people’s support instead of criticism.
    Attacks on Shias to persist, fear analysts
    Human rights organisations at home and abroad have repeatedly stated that the Pakistani state has failed to protect Shia Muslims.
    Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi said that since Pakistan’s religious discourse is sectarian and since the state is in retreat in the case of terrorism already, the country would need a generational process to undo the process of religious orthodoxy in politics.
    The matter of protecting the vulnerable sections of the society has gone beyond the domain of the police or just one government department, opined Wajahat Masood, Assistant Professor at BNU and political analyst who has written extensively on secularism in the country.
    “Security cannot be ensured in a compartmentalisation. The political and economic patronage of every armed group needs to be taken away. Such views, that a group involved in militant activity in Afghanistan or Kashmir, serves a purpose for Pakistani state, need to be forsaken altogether.”
    Masood added that the roots of sectarianism run deep, and the ensuing violence may eventually extend to all Pakistanis.
    “Saying that just one outfit like the SSP is sectarian is not correct; every outfit with arms like the Taliban are anti-Shia and religious minorities. My fear is that yesterday they came for Ahmadis, the Christians, today they are coming for Shias and tomorrow they will come for me.”
    Despite the imminent threat during Ashura, volunteers like Farwa and her friends keep guard with the help of one lady police constable at the Jamia.
    As an afterthought, Farwa added, “I might be tired, but please do not think that I am scared because I am the servant of my Imam and I will not deter.”

    Reader Comments

    true voice
    Such shame.. Sana sahab should emphasize and concentrate on locking up the terrorists rather than advising the same to the victimized mourners. To imply a shift of blame from the terrorists to mourners by implying that they provoke terrorist elements by holding open processions. If its not today, fear the day that the mere existence of Shiites would be criminalized if irresponsible and insincere statements like this were allowed to take their course..!!!! (ref: http://tribune.com.pk/story/470740/our-gaza-our-karbala/)

    Tahir Zain
    There is no doubt that the volunteers have stepped in to fill the vacuum. Yesterday at Shah-e-Khorasan Imambarhag complex in Karachi I was searched no less then 4 times in 40 minutes by the volunteers. They did a far though job then the police personal posted there.
    In fact the police were content to let them handle the search department.

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/471008/youth-guard-ashura-processions-i-may-be-tired-but-i-am-not-afraid/

  • The solution to sectaeian problem is simple to take strict action against all tnose who preach sectarian hatred for any muslim sect. We should not have any [reference for just one sect. Our constitution allow every individual to practice their religion and exercise religious ritual also in a free manner .Taking out of different kind of processions is the Shia communoties right. Self defense is the best techmique. More over the zealots do not vcare for their lives at the cost of abondoning their important religious belief and accompaning rites and rituals, which is the expression of theor religious zeal. We should mot allow prejudices to play and weigh in against any such measures suggested by the security officials they should stick to their duties and take the challenge to protect shia community instead of restrycting their rights.

    Tgese are legal processions taken out hrom certain placesm and ending at the imambarghas. Theroute of the procession needs to be secured . The security forces are paid toprovide protection to sHia segment of our society. Shias do not interferf in any other sects preferences. sunis and Shias marry each other and practice their rituals in unison .
    We should identify the troubled s[[pots and areas instead of banning processions altogether.
    Shias are a peace loving community and honor others religios believes.

    Let their be a ban on the hate speech and hate pamphelts distribution. We can not ban loud speaker instead of terrorists.
    Let us work for the unity and close understanding of each others point of view.

    Javaid Bashir
    Attorney at law
    Lahore

  • Le musée comprend une fascinante et très rare collection de peintures du Moyen ge. On y voit également des uvres de la Renaissance et du début du 17 siècle. Le tout exclusivement Florentin. La Galerie de l’Académie accueille aussi des uvres du sculpteur Bartolini et un mini musée de la musique.