By Aqsa Shams

Religious demagoguery and indoctrination is a curse that strips people of their humanity and turns them into vicious beasts.

Hate and extremism are instilled among people to such an extent that they barely think for a second before beheading, chopping, butchering, or burning alive another human being. And the indoctrination is so strong, that the audacity of butchering someone would be something that is actually reinforced by the state.

The Sri Lankan factory manager who was tortured to death and later set ablaze in Sialkot on Saturday, December 3, was accused of desecrating postures bearing the name of Holy Prophet (PBUH).

And yet it is not the first time that such news has haunted and shattered us all. There is a record of such cases in the past.

Only a few days earlier, a police station in Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was set on fire after an unruly mob demanded the police to hand over to them a man accused of desecrating the Holy Quran.

The list of such incidents goes on. One dates back to May 2017, Quetta, when in a similar incident, the mob attacked a police station which demanded a 34-year-old accused man, the attack that led to the death of a 10-year-old boy.

How can one forget Mashal Khan, who was lynched and murdered brutally by a mob over the same allegations? But what did the state do to the culprits? Many of them were acquitted, and while the one who shot Mashal Khan was sentenced to death in 2018, in 2019, the Peshawar High Court commuted the death sentence while maintaining the punishments of 32 others who were rewarded with less severe sentences.

In other words, no one was given any harsh punishments for their role in the cold and brutal murder.

The loopholes and lacunas in the judicial system strengthen and abet such incidents. The audacity to murder set ablaze, and mutilate is strengthened by the ignorance and negligence of the state. Who speaks about Mashal today? Who remembers Mashal today? Not enough people. Condemnation and a few statements out of formality will not reduce this poisonous culture of mob lynching. The state has to take some practical steps and adopt a mechanism to put a halt to this.

It is pertinent here to discuss the role of parliament in this regard. The seminaries – the key institutions must be impugned. There must be a mechanism to regulate the courses and the syllabus. One of the attackers who was part of the mob who attacked the Sri Lankan factory manager said, “We have set an example for all.”

Referencing books of Hadith (sayings of the Prophet), he added, that it had been written there “to kill those who attack and violate the dignity of our Holy Prophet (PBUH)”. This leaves a question in the court of the state and the leaders to reflect over their conduct and role to monitor the so-called Islamic teachings in the country.

Furthermore, it is important to introduce subjects regarding inter-faith harmony at school levels. The state has to shun demagoguery and bring a change in its ideology toward Pakistan and Pakistani society.

Bringing forth a twisted version of Islam will lead the country nowhere. Instead, it will produce only more fanatics.

The writer is a journalist


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