Don’t ‘like’ this

February 24, 2014


YOU’VE heard of Pakistan Idol. You’ve also no doubt heard of, and heard, Hadiqa Kiani. And chances are you’re familiar with Mufti Naeem, of Jamia Binoria fame. But perhaps you don’t know of the thread that ties these three together, a thread that weaves into the fabric of a vast global conspiracy that stretches back into the mists of history.

On one show of Pakistan Idol, Hadiqa wore earrings. Not just any old hoops but large triangular earrings, with a great, lidless, staring eye placed in the centre. She may have tried to pass these off as a hip adornment, but Mufti Naeem knew the truth: Hadiqa was a servant of the dark powers. No not Sauron, the scourge of Middle Earth, but that dreaded, world-dominating secret society known as the freemasons. Or possibly the illuminati, it’s hard to tell sometimes.

What we do know is that the ‘freeluminati’ are mostly comprised of pop stars, or anyone reasonably well known who has ever been photographed interacting with a vaguely triangular object or caught winking at some point in their lives. The only other thing we can be sure of is that the freeluminati like to sign their work, whether it’s an earring, the dollar bill or the cyclopean London Olympics mascot. They want you to see them coming.

Mufti Naeem did, and after much ‘investigation’ and ‘research’ took it upon himself to tell the world. Pakistan ideal, as he called it, was part of the Jewish freemason conspiracy to encourage mixing of the sexes, spread obscenity, and worst of all, to teach music to the youth of Pakistan.

The ulema will not stand for it, he declared, as he called for a boycott of the show in a six-minute video posted on his Facebook page.

Scrolling down to the likes and comments, of which there were quite a few, was illuminating if not surprising. The majority were all ‘jazakallahs’ and ‘aap nay humari aankhain khol deen’ for the learned mufti.

Out of morbid curiosity, and pretending I was some kind of social scientist, I made the mistake of clicking onto the pages of these people. Most of them seemed real enough, with selfies and education histories and likes that varied from atrocious pop music to random football teams. But click related pages and it goes from sad to scary.

Now you’re on Sipah-i-Sahaba fan pages, now you’re praising Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, now you have the users with Hakeemullah Mehsud and Osama Bin Laden as their profile pictures. One more degree of separation and you’ve gone beyond lazy Dajjal drones references and badly edited videos showing incontrovertible proof to the actual belly of the beast.

Here is slickly produced propaganda and well-thought-out recruitment lectures that hit all the right notes. Here are the official TTP pages and Al Qaeda in all its online glory. And this is really just the beginning.

Go deeper and there are the actual bomb-making techniques and training videos, the forums and chat rooms of global terror.

That’s what the net is about in many ways; it brings together people of the most divergent and often deviant interests. Enjoy watching women in high heels stomping on frogs? There’s a community for that.

Looking for a willing victim to kill and eat? That’s also possible, just look up Armin Meiwes if you dare. These groups become closed, self-referential circles where the common culture is one of ‘I’m okay, you’re okay. It’s those other guys who don’t know where it’s really at.’

And when it comes to the world of violent religious militancy, those ‘other guys’ are the enemy. The anonymity of the internet makes it a perfect recruiting ground. There’s no longer any need to be in direct contact with extremists to get radicalised, no need to seek out takfiris to get turned. You can do it from the comfort of your own home.

Take the 2009 case of the ‘Sargodha five’: young American men who travelled to Pakistan, allegedly to link up with local militants, had been in touch with radicals through comments on jihadi videos on YouTube.

But surely this isn’t a concern in Pakistan, where radicals are easily accessible? No, perhaps not when you consider the physical areas and centres where militant ideology spreads and holds sway. But consider that there are, give or take, 15 million Pakistanis on Facebook alone, a number that grows every day.

And for everyone liking random shaadi pics, there is also a recruiter, an enabler or a handler waiting for the naïve, for the easily misled or for the irredeemably psychotic. They’re out there, and are just four to five clicks away from ‘Ban Pakistan Idol’.

The writer is a member of staff.

Twitter: @ZarrarKhuhro