Yesterday, Justice Azmat Saeed of the Lahore High Court issued orders to the Ministry of Information and Technology, asking to block access to all those websites that spread religious intolerance. This order was given out at the conclusion of the case that seeked to permanently block Facebook for hosting a competition of allegedly blasphemous caricatures.
Since the honorable judge was presiding over this matter that related to the nuances of freedom of expression on the internet, I will presume that he is proficient in matters related to IT and uses the internet regularly. With all due respect then, Your Honor, I most humbly request you to Google some things.
Google the definition of religious intolerance Your Honor, it might surprise you to know that religious intolerance is not limited to Islam, but to all religions, all beliefs, all faiths. Google the history of religious intolerance Your Honor and you will find atrocities committed against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and a host of others. Google just a bit further Your Honor and you will find that religious intolerance extends to sects within these major religions, intolerance against Dalits, against Protestants, against Shias.
Then Google this Your Honor, http://www.kr-hcy.com/, a website where you cannot enter till you accept that you are a Muslim as defined by the site. I would request you to squelch your repulsion and enter the site Your Honor and see what lies ahead. Witness the hatred that the site spreads against Shias and Qadyanis, Your Honor, and ban that site too, for is it not religious intolerance to call Shias ‘munkir, baaghi and dushman’? Is it not religious intolerance to ask people to join ‘the war’ against shias, and to ‘hunt them to the ends of the world’?
When you are done with that website, Your Honor, then Google this one http://alhafeez.org/rashid/terrorism.htm. Once you have navigated through it’s myriad headings and articles, you will have gone through pages upon pages that claim among other things that Qadyanis are anti- Pakistan, that they are behind the acts of terrorism we face each day, that they have dealt mortal blows to the export sector. Is it not religious intolerance Your Honor, to put forth such claims which might entice the general public to react against a minority? Is it not religious intolerance Your Honor, to imply that a sect is the enemy of the State just because their religious beliefs are different from the majority?
And lastly Your Honor, if you have the stomach for it, please Google Zaid Hamid and witness the many sites that carry his hatred filled speeches against Hindus including his own brasstacks.com. Is it not religious intolerance Your Honor, when Hindus are called ‘paleet’ and said to be part of a conspiracy to bring down Pakistan? Is it not religious intolerance to blame every thing that goes wrong not on a neighboring country, but on the faith of the neighboring country? I need not remind you Your Honor, that many in this country are Hindus, including one of your most esteemed fellows, Justice Bhagwandaas.
Lastly, Your Honor, Google George Jeffreys and see how selectively harsh punishments can lead to notoriety in dispensing justice, the most noble of professions.