ON Ishq-i-Rasool Day on Friday last to express our deep love for the Holy Prophet Muhammad( peace be upon him), the PPP government, led by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, declared the day as public holiday to allow the Pakistani nation to express anger and revulsion at caricaturing and tarnishing the sacred image of the beloved Prophet Muhammad.
After addressing the meeting of the cabinet, the prime minister addressed, in Urdu and English, a huge gathering of diplomats, representatives of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and ulema, urging calm and civil behaviour while protesting.
He called for maintaining unity and order while condemning disrespect to the Holy Prophet by the mischievous filmmaker. He urged the Pakistanis to show respect for all religions and protect churches, temples and other places of worship.
However, in the charged atmosphere the inflamed mobs resorted to destruction, arson and killings. The mob violence by 50,000 armed protestors in Islamabad and 25,000 from Barakhou tried to enter the diplomatic enclave and the red zone.
The police were outnumbered and policemen and journalists were killed and injured. An ARY cameraman was shot dead by the mob.
The inflamed mobs were led by rowdy youngsters and loafers, who set fire to cinema houses, toll plazas, police vehicles, police posts, shops, petrol pumps and private properties. Two cinema houses were torched in Peshawar.
Pakistani Christians were in the forefront of the minority communities who had fully supported the public protests. Yet a church in Mardan was set on fire. Appeals by officials, and religious scholars and the police for restraint was disregarded by hooligans. Despite provocation and stoning the police exercised great restraint. It was most disgusting to see criminals and scoundrels stoning, burning tyres and rampaging when they should have shown respect for Holy Prophet Muhammad and his message of peace and compassion .
The best way to show respect to the Prophet is to pray in silence for peace and amity and interfaith harmony.
Shouting abuse, violence, arson, derogatory threats and killings are not what the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad have taught us.
The torching of the church in Mardan and criminal behaviour and actions, specially threats to the West by fanatic clerics and mobs, will weaken the support for President Zardari’s effort to impress upon the world community in his address to the UN General Assembly on Sept 25 to pass a resolution to condemn the making of crude video films mocking Prophet Muhammad.
The people of Pakistan must control their passion and anger to convince the world that we are grieved and our grief must be redressed.
AYAZ AHMED KHAN Nathiagali
THE blasphemous movie is the product of a twisted, perverted and mischievous mind of an individual with a known criminal history. The disgusting act has hurt the feelings of millions of Muslims all over the world. Protests have caused a lot of damage and claimed a number of lives in Pakistan, as well as the lives of three Americans, including their ambassador to Libya.
Very strong protests and violent agitations have taken place in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia. Afghanistan and Pakistan. These protests are continuing and are not likely to stop so soon.
What kind of freedom of expression is this that allows spread of hatred for other religions? Freedom of expression is all right as long as it does not cross the limits which have to be set down by the law.
The sentiment of all religions and the honour of all Holy Prophets of all religions must be protected by law under the American Constitution, through an amendment.
It is good that a lot of countries have blocked the blasphemous movie and YouTube. The blasphemous Sam Bacile must be taken into custody and punished by US authorities because he is spreading hatred and hurting Muslim sentiments all over the world and is causing disharmony by spreading hatred within the US.
We Muslims should, however, show restraint and protest effectively but not violently. We do not want evil and mischievous individuals to succeed in provoking us into violence, damaging state and private property and indulging in bloodletting.
Diplomatic efforts are required by a united Muslim Ummah and the OIC to persuade all states to legislate and make laws under their constitutions and a UN resolution to show respect to sensitivities of all religions and protect the honour and high reverence to all Prophets. If this does not happen, such acts will keep occurring and shattering world peace and harmony.
ZAHEER AHMED Islamabad