| by Malhar Mali |
Yesterday a man lost his life in Pakistan because of what he wrote on a social network. Mashal Khan, who identified as “The Humanist” on Facebook, was beaten, shot, and tortured to death by a homicidal, righteous mob of students and university affiliates at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, Pakistan while police officers watched. His alleged crime? Blasphemy. Khan was accused of promoting the Ahmadiyya faith on social media. Though he repeatedly denied the claim to his accusers, the mob set onto him nonetheless.
Ahmadiyya Muslims are a religious sect within Islam who consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be the awaited messiah (Not Muhammed). Incidentally, they are the sect who congregate to condemn terrorist attacks in Europe — the same faction, as Douglas Murray points out, who the left-wing media swoon over while failing to note that they are in fact a persecuted religious minority in the Muslim world.
If you’re inclined towards this type of terminology, Ahmadis are the victims of Islamic “Islamophobia” towards Muslims from Muslims. To get a Pakistani passport, one must sign a declaration stating that they consider Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. Ahmadiyya Muslims are also regularly harassed, targeted, and in some instances killed simply for their faith. Remember the murdered Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, Scotland, Asad Shah? The incident which some speculated was a hate crime in the wake of growing animosity towards migrants and foreigners in Europe? His death was actually attributed to sectarian violence (Shah was an Ahmadi). His murderer, Tanveer Ahmed, killed Shah because he felt the shopkeeper had “disrespected Islam.” Why? Ahmed said in a statement:
“This all happened for one reason and no other issues and no other intentions. Asad Shah disrespected the messenger of Islam the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. Mr Shah claimed to be a Prophet.”
The situation is far more dangerous in Muslim majority countries. There are millions of dissidents, religious minorities, ex-believers, and liberal and secular Muslims who live in fear of voicing their opinions. A mob descending upon you and beating you to death for what you may have merely said is not an obscure fantasy born out of paranoia. It is a reality. Wherever religious dogma, inflexible doctrine, and demagogy are accepted and celebrated, free thinkers and those who deviate from the norm are not free.
Do these individuals receive assistance, guidance, or even a semblance of a thought from “progressives” here? Rarely. Usually, no. Self proclaimed “progressives” in western countries, rather, titillate themselves by watching shows like The Young Turks and patting each other over their backs by repeating mantras of, “Nothing to do with Islam,” and “Islam is the religion of peace.” They convince themselves that behaviors like blasphemy mobs, stoning for adultery, and detonating one’s self in a crowd of children have nothing to do with the religious beliefs people hold.
They are unable to grasp that all religions — simply a set of beliefs — are not equally bad. Some are worse than others. When confronted with events such as blasphemy mobs these “progressives” either splutter “Islamophobe!” and “racist” in response, or scamper to find imaginary links between Western foreign policy and a group of angry men beating someone to death for allegedly promoting an esoteric faith which is no truer than their imaginary one.
But by discounting the religious — belief based — motivations for such heinous actions, these people effectively state that brown people are subhuman illiterates willing to act like barbarians and succumb to their basest tribal instincts and kill people for stepping outside accepted norms of thought. They posit that brown people are born this way and act this way without provocation or motivation. Who are the real racists?
Beliefs matter. If you genuinely believe with everything in your being that someone posting words on Facebook which promote another faith over yours is a grave offense to the holiest figure in your life — in all of Allah’s beautiful creation, of course you’re more willing to engage in such abhorrent actions. Do the chants of “Allahu Akbur” (God is great) give that away yet? Will that ever give it away?
To “progressives” all these points don’t matter. They will go to astronomical lengths, delude themselves, and twist each other around in knots to discount the religious — belief based — motivations for these instances, and free thinkers, atheists, secular and liberal Muslims, gays, transexuals and women will continue to live under oppression. And I don’t use that word lightly.
However, when they hear that a Christian assailant shoots up an abortion clinic they will clamber over one other to blame Christianity as his motivation. When they hear Dylan Roof killed black people because he was a white supremacist, they will rightly attribute blame to the ideas he holds.
I doubt they’ll ever make the same link with what they see as the brown man’s religion. Why? To them the West is the worst. It did atrocious things years ago so it must hold its tongue. It must repent for colonialism, imperialism. It must refrain from passing judgement. Besides, in their eye racism, sexism, homophobia, “Islamophobia,” and transphobia are rampant in the western world and must be called out.
I suppose I must take my own prescription and accept that beliefs matter. If these “progressives” really believe that western countries are awash with bigotry, and the specter of every negative ism and phobia hides around every corner, I can see how they can focus excessively on trivial concerns — often fabricating and imagining slights to pretend they live in abhorrent conditions.
But while they do, human beings are being sacrificed on the altar of 7th century values and norms. Rest in peace, Mashal.
[Author’s note: I incorrectly identified Asad Shah’s murder as having occurred after the Brexit vote. The article has been updated to remove reference of Brexit]