Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Middle Ages still reign in Pakistan

This from www.ideastream.org:

It began in the summer of 2009 as a quarrel over water in a sweltering farm field in the province of Punjab. When the heated words were over, Asia Noreen Bibi was charged under the strict blasphemy laws of predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

A Christian wife and mother, the woman commonly known as Asia Bibi was convicted by a district court last month of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad. The punishment is mandatory death and Asia Bibi became the first female in Pakistan to be sentenced to hang for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi, a Roman Catholic, says she did not commit the crime. The case has drawn international condemnation, and Pope Benedict XVI has called for Asia Bibi's release.

But in a country where conservative religious forces are gathering strength, fundamentalists have called for her head.

At a recent protest after Friday's prayers in Rawalpindi, a small crowd of bearded men chanted: "Asia, the blasphemer: Hang her, hang her."

Such protesters who often eclipse the country's more peaceful majority views are passionate that Pakistan's blasphemy law should not be questioned let alone changed.

The leader of the demonstration, Mohammad Saleem of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan Party, said: "Our country is Islamic and we are Muslims. We want justice."

This sounds like the "witch" scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." In other words, it sounds like something out of Western Europe's Middle Ages. Combine this story with the recent spate of naturalized US citizens of Islamic origin, who have turned terrorist --- the Times Square Bomber, the Christmas Tree Bomber, the Fort Dix Six, etc. --- and all the blather about how peaceful Islam is at its core seems like just so much wishful thinking.

I find myself forced to wonder if Islam has ever actually emerged from its Medieval origins.

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