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After Taseer's death, bloggers campaign on

Anita Joshua

ISLAMABAD: When bloggers expressed concern about the security of politician Sherry Rehman after she incurred the wrath of the ‘religious' right wing for advocating a change in the blasphemy laws, no one expected another voice of reason and moderation to be silenced so soon.

Now, after the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer [by his gunman Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri] for his opposition to the blasphemy laws, the blogging and tweeting community are trying their best to keep the morale of civil society from flagging in the face of the rampant use of violence by the ‘religious' right wing.

“Salman Taseer is gone. But there's a Qadri [name of the assailant] on every street and in every newsroom. Pakistan has a malignant cancer,” tweeted writer Mosharraf Zaidi within an hour of the assassination; demanding that cases be registered against every single person who called for his death. “There is blood on those hands.”

On the ‘Citizens for Democracy' — a group formed over the past few weeks to mobilise opinion against the blasphemy laws — an exasperated blogger wrote:

“Absolutely sad and tragic. We all are hostages to every one who does not agree with our point of view. The religious fanatics have chosen violence to establish a fascist system. What do we do when the State actively supports this process by first creating these laws and then choosing to look the other way?

“No action has been taken against the Mullah who announced an award of 50,000 for killing Aasia [the Christian death row-designate, in a blasphemy case whose cause Mr. Taseer championed]. No action was taken against Mullas who made public statements of “khoon ki nadian” [rivers of blood] in case the blasphemy law was changed. No action was taken on hundreds of posters put up by religious groups all over the country.''

While some members of this group advocated a toning down of the debate in view of the assassination and keeping in mind the harsh ground realities, another anguished participant in the raging debate wrote: “We are living in a hell hole we built for ourselves for 63 years… Religion has become the argument for insane irrational behaviour and perversion of the worst kind. Salman fell an easy prey to that insanity. No one is safe… This is the house we all built after all!''

Counter-narrative

The counter-narrative was also building equally fast as supporters of Qadri created a Facebook page with a photograph of him as he was being taken away by the police. Within a couple of hours, there were 730 people who said they liked the page and “support the action of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri and want that Supreme Court of Pakistan take immediate action against his arrest and order to free him.”

This page also saw a raging discussion as liberals took on the right wing thought; unwilling to surrender to fundamentalist ideologies. Their spirit bruised by Mr. Taseer's assassination, civil societybloggers seem to have decided to keep up their campaign.

Or so it would seem from: “Enough is enough, another brave soldier has embraced martyrdom, this madness has to go, the blasphemy law along with all other black laws has to go, this chapter has not been closed, in fact his martyrdom has opened a new chapter… He is not dead, he is alive, looking at us saying, “I have done my part, what about you?”

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