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Nadeem F. Paracha vs Aamir Liaquat Hussain

Source: Pakistan Media Watch

VS

Though we typically focus on news talk shows and newspapers, it is not beyond the boundaries to also include some religious television shows. Obviously, this is not a blog about Religion Watch, and I don’t want to venture too far into questions of religion. But I do think it’s fair to make some criticism of the way that religious programmes on TV take it upon themselves to comment on matters of current news and politics. Other countries have their televangelists who meddle in politics, so we have the same thing.

Nadeem Paracha takes one of our homegrown televangelists to task in a blog post on Dawn today.

When ‘Islamic’ televangelist, Aamir Liaquat, traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform (his umpteenth) Hajj late last year, intelligent, sensitive and rational Pakistanis let out a sigh of relief.

The more mischievous ones among us even prayed to the Almighty to let the Saudis fall in love with this eminent ‘Islamic scholar’ and fund his outlandish theories. The whole idea behind this sincere pray was for Liaquat to stay put in Saudia Arabia playing the Saudi faith’s Dr. Frankenstein (remember Dr. Maurice Bucaille?), leaving television viewers in Pakistan ever so grateful to the Saudis for keeping him there, away from the corruptions and temptations of Pakistan.

But, alas, all hopes have been dashed as Liaquat has been brought back for yet another invigorating season of ‘Alim Online.’ This despite the fact that in 2008, he was accused of instigating violence against the Ahmadiyya community through his highly enlightening show, and is also known for holding some truly audacious views about Islam, society, and politics in Pakistan.

Well, actually, such men (and some women), have ironically proven to be real attractions for multinationals wanting to advertise their brands during the most foolhardy shows, so one can understand private television channels’ unflinching obsession with these characters.

That said, this article will focus on a 10-minute section of Liaqaut’s show that aired on January 29 this year. After announcing his return to the mini-screen (so much for our prayers), Liaquat launches into a discussion on our unfortunate cricket team that has recently turned suffering defeat into an unparalleled art, nay, a fascinating science.

For a second I thought he would start cursing the fact that there are still not enough Tableeghis in the team for it to start winning again. But Liaquat, being the bolt he is, said this instead: “Our team has been losing a lot lately. So, a viewer called me and said, Liaquat bhai, do mention the fact that ever since Pakistani cricketers started wearing shoes with green soles, they have started to lose!”

Yup, you read that right. Liaquat bhai then went on to endorse this brilliant insight by suggesting that green soles are the culprit because green is the colour of Islam and also of our national flag.

Marvelous. This should also mean that the Pakistan team should stop playing on grass, and the hockey team should stop dribbling and running across green AstroTurf as well?

Conscious of the fact that maybe even the biggest religious nutcase will have some trouble swallowing this belligerent and breathtaking proclamation, Liaquat then quickly adds that this was a matter of faith and not aqal (reason). In fact, he said that such talk has to do with belief and would not be understood by the ‘worshippers of reason’ (aqal kay poojney walley).

So, on a mainstream Pakistani TV channel, which has recently made it a point to become the leading upholder of a corruption-less society, we get to hear about a very green reason behind Pakistan’s defeat in Australia. More than that, in a country with less than a 50 per cent literacy rate, we also get to hear how useless and sinful things like logic, reason, and intellectuality really are for the Muslims. Bravo.

Anyway, in that glorious 10-minute span, Liaquat then moved on to comment on some international politics. He talks about the recent murder of an Iranian nuclear scientist, and asks our own bomb daddy, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, to watch his back.

Interestingly, he also alludes to the fact that Dr. Khan is a regular viewer of his show. If so, then I have a question. Was it aqal that Dr. Khan used to make the bomb, or did the non-green soles of his shoe did the trick? Or maybe the doctor sahib’s brains are (literally) green, along with his heart, gallbladder and kidneys? Maybe it is not a bomb at all that he has made, but a giant shoe with non-green soles that we will use to kick India with?

Moving on, Liaquat bhai then at once puts the blame of the Iranian nuclear scientist’s murder on the continuing existence of a handful of synagogues in Iran! Shame on Iran for being a repressive theocracy and still managing to demonstrate more religious tolerance than a democracy like Pakistan can or ever will afford.

Then, like a typical whining demagogue, Liaquat says that there are synagogues in certain Muslim countries, but no mosques in Israel. At once realising that one of the holiest mosques of the Muslims is situated in Jerusalem (Dome of the Rock/Masjid Aqsa), he quotes a supposed Gulf News report that states that the Israelites have protested that the early morning call for prayer from the mosque is too loud and should be stopped.

After going through dozens of recent editions of Gulf News I could not come across even a single report suggesting the above. However, even if this is true, then Liaquat bhai should also share with his evergreen viewers the many incidents in Pakistan where perfectly good Muslims have rightly gone to court against a maulvi or two to stop them from turning the volume up to 10 while delivering the morning azaan. And as any pious Pakistani would vouch, the early morning call for prayer is (comparatively) the softest.

Anyway, doesn’t this make Iran and all the other Muslim countries that have synagogues seem a lot more tolerant than Israel?

Liaquat bhai then goes on to talk about the ‘Jesus’ Bible coded guns that were handed to some American soldiers in Afghanistan (but then taken back, even though bhai does not mention this). He says this is a sign that the war in Afghanistan and Iraq is a crusade. He moves on to suggest that the Swiss cannot tolerate minarets (on mosques); the French can’t tolerate hijabs, so on and so forth.

Indeed, how intolerant of them. But for the sake of the argument, let’s reverse the situation. Let’s say, a misled, misguided, bad and green-soled-shoe wearing Muslim like me objects to the fact that the Pakistani soldiers are trained to chant ‘Allah Akbar’ as a battle cry; or that army tanks and trucks have hadiths written on them – these are the trucks, tanks and soldiers the army will take into a war, wouldn’t it? So how is this any different than guns having verses from the Bible?

Let’s now go on to say that a bad Muslim like me also bemoans the fact that churches are regularly attacked in this country and that there are many areas in Pakistan were a woman without a hijab, a burqa, or a woman in a western dress, can’t even imagine venturing into without being harassed or attacked. If I start asking such questions, how many bemoaners of western intolerance will be willing to exhibit any tolerance themselves?

And now, returning to our cricket team, Liaquat bhai should also remind himself that each and every non-Muslim country where Inzimamul Haq’s hyper-tableeghi team played, it made it a point to hold public prayers (in the stadiums) and openly practice Islamic evangelism.

The Indians, the Australians, or the British didn’t challenge this blatant show of religious exhibitionism. It was stopped (and rightly so) by the Pakistani Cricket Board. And can you imagine what might have happened had the Indian team or an English squad decided to use Pakistani stadiums for Hindu or Christian rituals and their tours to the country as a recruiting side activity? Liaquat and the likes of him would have been throwing green-soled shoes at them and calling it jihad!

So, Liaquat bhai, life’s a two-way street, a fact that men like you continue to dodge. But what can one expect from a person who has nothing but contempt for reason and aqal?

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Farhad Jarral

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  • The only problem with Dr (?) Aamir Liaquat’s show is its name “Aalim online.”
    It should be “Jaahil online.”

  • Shocking TV interview haunts Dr Aamir Liaquat’s career Daily Times Monitor Daily Times – Site Edition Thursday, May 26, 2005 ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: President Pervez Musharraf’s favourite Islamic TV preacher, the minister of state for religious affairs, Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain, has finally shot himself, not in the foot but almost in the head, South Asia Tribune reported on Wednesday. “The minister, who was already in trouble over his allegedly fake degrees scandal and his sharp criticism of the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and is being replaced by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), despite all his denials, went on record in a TV interview last week and said Pakistan supported Iraqi insurgent leader Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi and what he was doing to US forces in Iraq,” it reported. “Aamir said this in an interview to ARY’s famous host, Dr Shahid Masood, on the subject of a fatwa (decree) issued by some Pakistani religious scholars recently, on whether suicide bombing was permissible in Islam. Aamir had been called to discuss the fatwa along with senior Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed,” it said. “The young and inexperienced minister, a loud-mouth who offends listeners, said such ‘truthful’ things about Pakistan’s policy on jihad in Iraq and Kashmir and even so strongly blasted President Musharraf for supporting the US that ARY TV decided not to run the programme on popular talk show Views-on-News,” South Asia Tribune added. Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, who was the other guest on the talk show, was shocked out of his senses when he heard the comments of the minister during the interview. He asked Aamir several times whether he was speaking in his personal capacity or on behalf of the MQM or the Musharraf government. When he was told that he was representing the government’s point of view, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed reportedly could not refrain from making the following remarks: ‘If this is what enlightened moderation of General Musharraf means, who in hell can oppose it. The MMA will fully support the MQM and Musharraf if this is the official policy’,” it said. “The whole show became so ridiculous that ARY decided not to run it, but the tape immediately became a hot potato and was soon in tremendous demand from all interested parties,” South Asia Tribune reported.

    Hafiz Hussain Ahmed confirmed the story of the censored TV show to South Asia Tribune. It quoted him as saying that he was shortly going to protest to the ARY TV Channel for not running the interview, as the minister had repeatedly said that it was the official government policy. “The minister agreed with all the points that I raised and all the arguments for jihad that I made and concurred that it was jihad being fought by Muslims in Iraq and the Pakistani government supported it. I was so surprised that I told him on record that if this is the meaning of enlightened moderation of General Musharraf, we (the MMA) are with you and kon kambakht mukhalifat kar sakta hay (which Godforsaken soul can oppose it),” it quoted him as saying. “ARY officials in Dubai and Islamabad refused to say why the interview had not been shown but Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said he would be protesting to the channel and urging them to release the tape as it would open the eyes of the world,” South Asia Tribune reported. “When Hafiz Hussain Ahmed started asking questions about the interview, the secret service got wind of what had happened and immediately demands were made from the ARY administration to let the authorities have a copy of the dreaded tape,” it said. “Surprisingly, the London headquarters of the MQM also got wind of what had happened in the interview and Altaf Hussain, who had already summoned Aamir Liaquat Hussain to London, also started looking for a copy of the tape,” it added.

    South Asia Tribune quotes US diplomatic sources in Islamabad as telling it that they had heard about the interview and that they would like to hear the tape and what the minister had said about President Musharraf’s policy about suicide attacks by Zarqawi’s men on US forces. It quoted sources as saying later that Pakistani authorities had informed the US diplomats about the contents of the interview and everyone might soon be watching the tape of the interview. “Whether President Musharraf, Altaf Hussain or the US diplomats have received the cassette and heard Dr Aamir’s comments or not is not yet confirmed, but experts in Islamabad said it is only a matter of time that everyone concerned will hear what this outspoken minister had to say and then the chips would fall where they may,” it added. South Asia Tribune quotes sources close to Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, who heard the minister in awe during the interview, as saying that the minister had become emotional while talking about jihad and suicide bombings and was grilled by the host of the programme, Dr Shahid Masood, who almost trapped him into making statements which no politician in such a high political position would make.

    It quotes the sources as saying that Aamir had openly criticised President Musharraf for his pro-US policies and had fully supported the jihadis in Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir, but at the same time he had insisted that suicide bombings in Pakistan were against Islam. “‘Anywhere, if there is one American soldier present, suicide bombing is permissible in Islam,’ Dr Aamir was quoted by these sources as having said on record. ‘There are times when the truth must be told,’ he added in one remark,” South Asia Tribune reported. “The minister was the main sponsor when about 50 Pakistani religious leaders issued the fatwa against suicide bombings in Pakistan, which according to some analysts, was done to please President Musharraf. But in his exuberance the minister was caught on the wrong foot when questioned by ARY and Geo TV Channels about such attacks in Iraq and other places,” it added. South Asia Tribune quoted sources in London as saying that MQM Chief Altaf Hussain had already been told by the army to name a replacement for the minister, as he had become too controversial and out-spoken in his remarks and it was difficult to keep him at the cabinet post.

    “The London sources also revealed a shocking story about Dr Aamir’s brother, Imran Liaquat Hussain, who studied in Iran and later declared himself an ‘Ayatollah’ opposed to the clerics of Iran,” it said, adding, “Dr Imran was arrested in Iran and later came to Karachi where he took up a fight with MQM Chief Altaf Hussain and declared him ‘an agent of Iran, and a mafia don’. He also issued a fatwa calling for Altaf Hussain’s death and accused the MQM of Wall Street Journal’s journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder.”

    “He claimed that the MQM was getting funds from Iran,” South Asia Tribune said.

    “In response to his statements in 2002, Altaf Hussain pressured his father, who was also a senior MQM leader to disown his son and Sheikh Liaquat Hussain did exactly that, saying the statements issued by his ‘Ayatollah’ son were stupid, misleading and provocative and he as his father had nothing to do with these views of his son,” it added. “Imran Liaquat Hussain also has a website where he has numerous press clippings of his war against the MQM and its leader Altaf Hussain. He also supported President Musharraf in the 2002 referendum,” it reported. URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/print.asp?page=20055\26\story_26-5-2005_pg7_45

  • PAKISTAN: Two persons murdered after an anchor person proposed the widespread lynching of Ahmadi sect followers

    ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

    Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-203-2008 10 September 2008

    http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2008/2999/

    ———————————————————————
    PAKISTAN: Two persons murdered after an anchor person proposed the widespread lynching of Ahmadi sect followers

    ISSUES: Murder; religious discrimination; freedom of religion; media
    ———————————————————————

    Dear friends,

    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an anchor person working for a prominent television channel has incited Muslims in Pakistan to kill – to devastating effect. The targets are followers of the Muslim Ahmadi sect, a group which has been declared non-Islamic under the constitution of Pakistan. The first killing happened within 24 hours of the broadcast, and just under two days later a district chief of the Ahmadi was murdered. Followers of the religion are understandably frightened, and many have left their homes and are taking shelter at their central mosque, the Rabwa.

    CASE DETAILS:

    In a program aired on 7 September 2008 the anchor of the religious program ‘Alam Online’, Dr. Amir Liaquat Hussain–also former federal minister for religious affairs–declared the murder of Ahmadi sect members to be necessary (Wajib ul Qatal) according to Islamic teachings, because its followers don’t believe in the last prophet, Mohammad, peace be upon him. Dr. Amir repeated his instruction several times, urging fundamentalists Muslims to kill without fear.

    While on air the anchor person also pressured the other two Islamic scholars (from two different sects) on the program to support the statement. This resulted in a unanimous decision among the scholars, on air during a popular television show, to urge lynching with the intent to kill. This was not a one-off. On September 9, Mr. Hussain answered a query with the comment that blasphemers are liable to be put to death.

    According to the information received, at 1:15pm on September 8, 18 hours after the broadcast, six persons entered the Fazle Umer Clinic, a two-story hospital at Mirpur Khas city and two of them went to the second floor and started pressuring 45 year-old Dr. Abdul Manan Siddiqui to come downstairs to attend to a patient in crisis. Dr. Manan left his office and descended into an ambush. He was shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard was also shot and is in a serious condition. A woman was also injured by firing. The killers remained at the hospital until the doctor was declared dead, then they walked out of the building’s front entrance. Police registered the killers as unknown.

    On September 9, 48 hours after the broadcast, Mr. Yousaf, a 75 year-old rice trader and district chief of the Ahmadi sect was killed on his way to prayer in Nawab Shah, Sindh province. Yousaf was fired on from people on motor bikes, and sustained three bullet wounds. He died on the way to the hospital. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

    The Ahmadi sect was declared non-Islamic sect on September 7, 1974, through a constitutional amendment, and was labeled a minority sect. Since then, there has been open hatred of the sect by certain Islamic circles and fundamentalists across the Muslim world, and sect members suffer widespread discrimination. Ahmadi followers are not allowed to bury their dead in the ordinary grave yards of Muslims, and many of those buried before 1974 were shifted by fundamentalists.

    Since 1984 (when statistics have been compiled) around 93 Ahmadis have been killed for their allegiance to their sect, with four killed so far this year, including Dr. Ghulam Sarwar on March 19 in Faisalabad, Punjab province and Mr. Basharat Mughal on February 24 in Karachi. The Dr. Siddiqui is the 15th medical doctor killed since 1984.

    SUGGESTED ACTION:

    Please write to following authorities and urge them to appropriate actions in order to stop the killings of Ahmadi followers and recognized religious freedom. Please also demand them to prevent any religious hatred or discrimination from broadcasting through the media.

    Please be informed that the AHRC has also written separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

  • Degree of Amir Liaquat not recognised – June 14, 2006 Wednesday Jumadi-ul-Awwal 17, 1427 http://www.dawn.com/2006/06/14/top12.htm

    ISLAMABAD, June 13: The Higher Education Commission has officially declared the BA degree of Minister of State for Religious Affairs Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain ‘not recognised’. The University of Karachi had already declared state minister’s degree ‘not recognised’ last year.Mr Hussain had submitted to the election commission his BA degree in Islamic Studies issued by the Trinity College and University Spain incorporated in Dover, Delaware (USA), while filing his nomination forms for October 2002 general elections. According to a letter written by the HEC Accreditation and Attestation director-general to the registrar of the University of Karachi, the respective college and university was not listed among the accredited/chartered institutions of the USA.—Online