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Blasphemy in the digital age

Published Sep 14, 2012 11:02pm


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AS yet another furore breaks out over a movie with an unflattering depiction of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), it is time to reflect on how Muslims should react to offensive material on the Internet.

In our digital age where social media sites contain millions of pages of all kinds of material, should we respond to every scurrilous image with violence? The attacks on the American missions in Benghazi and Cairo because of the film Innocence of Muslims is a case in point.

Having watched clips from the movie on YouTube, I can say that it is deeply offensive, both religiously and aesthetically. Crudely produced, it would have sunk without a trace had it not led to the death of the US ambassador and three other Americans in Libya.

While the producer/director, ‘Sam Bacile’, clearly set out to offend Muslims by his crass film, should they have taken offence? Each time there has been a violent reaction in the Muslim world, the object of protests has been given publicity and attention it would not otherwise have received. Beginning with Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in the 1980s to the infamous Danish cartoons, and many other similar episodes, Muslims have inadvertently promoted offensive portrayals of their faith through violence. Books, cartoons and films that would have otherwise faded into oblivion have gained iconic status though irrational Muslim reactions.

It is the nature of the Internet that any nut with a computer can post all kinds of hateful material from the anonymity of his home, and at virtually no cost. No government can do anything about it, so to burn down a country’s embassy in protest really does no good at all. In fact, what it does is confirm the widespread impression in the West of Muslims as volatile, irrational people.

And while one can understand the fury of Muslims over the Bacile film, what is one to make of the reaction to the Channel 4 series Islam: The Untold Story? This is meant to be a scholarly, serious examination of the earliest period of Islam by Tom Holland, a respected historian who recently wrote Under the Shadow of the Sword about the same subject.

Holland’s purpose in the series is to question assumptions and beliefs about a virtually undocumented period of early Islam. Given the lack of historical documents from the era, he indulges in speculation, as historians do in the absence of hard evidence.

After the first segment was aired in late August, Channel 4 has received so many complaints and threats, presumably from Muslims, that it has decided to drop the series. While some may regard this as a triumph of Islamic activism, it only reinforces the view of Muslims as intolerant.

It is true that the scientific method of basing research into the past on evidence comes into conflict with blind belief. Historians are sceptics who demand proof before they accept a version of past events. They have long subjected the early days of Christendom to similar analysis, with the result that many anecdotes about Jesus are now generally seen to be questionable at best.

But most believers see a dispassionate examination of the foundations of their religion as an attempt to somehow de-legitimise their deepest-held beliefs. However, history is seldom value-free: even the most objective historian is never entirely free of bias.

Devout Christians have often recoiled from the constant questioning of their faith. Indeed, their belief and their spiritual icons are regularly pilloried on television, in books and on the stage. Senior clerics have complained that while the media criticise and mock their faith, it adopts a generally more cautious line where Islam and Muslims are concerned. We all know why, of course.

In the first and only episode of Islam: The Untold Story to be aired by Channel 4, Holland says: “History is like a labyrinth — once you are inside, who knows where it will lead?” But clearly, while he views Islam as a legitimate field of study, many Muslims are convinced that it is a matter of strict belief, not speculation and analysis.

It seems that what is blasphemy to some is freedom of expression to others. And even the definition of what constitutes blasphemy needs to be revisited in this digital age: if somebody sends me an unsolicited email attachment containing a segment of the scriptures, and I delete it accidentally or deliberately, am I committing blasphemy? Some cellphones are sold with religious text pre-loaded on them. If a non-Muslim buys one and then decides to delete the app, has he committed blasphemy?

Since words and images in cyberspace are ultimately composed of 0s and 1s, do they correspond to alphabets and pictures on sheets of paper? I am not sure if these issues have been addressed by Muslim clerics, but I would like to hear the views of religious scholars.

And as accusations of blasphemy are constantly being hurled at the weak and the vulnerable in Pakistan, I wonder if somebody could tell me what happens to all the millions of pages of religious texts printed every year. Surely it is physically impossible to preserve them all.

Clearly, we need to draw a clear distinction between gratuitous attempts to shock and offend and historical research. But in either case, protests only serve to give them a far larger audience than they would otherwise have enjoyed.

I am at a loss over why people insist on watching or reading material that offends them, whether it is blasphemous or obscene. Instead of calling for them to be banned, why don’t they just switch channels or click their mouse to another site?

Actually, in most cases, people just accept the word of others and go on a rampage, irrespective of the actual contents of a book or a web page. It seems we still have a lot of growing up to do.

The writer is the author of Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West.


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (78) Closed

Muhammad Alvi Sep 15, 2012 07:32pm
I liked the views expressed by Irfan Hussain regarding Blasphemy and other similar laws. I watched the video of Sam Bacile on YOUTUBE. It is a crude video in poor taste, which has nothing in common with historical facts. After watching it, I felt that it could hurt the emotions of some muslims but there was nothing in it that could hurt Islam. It could have been easily ignored. Islam is a time-tested religion which has survived for 15 hundred years. The video is a crude joke and should have been taken like that. It does not justify all the commotion in the whole muslim world. The person who made this video is an ex-convict in fraud cases and is on probation at this time. This was his mischievious and selfish idea to create this video. He collected 5 million dollars from some anti-muslim individuals, spent hardly 0.1 million on the video and pocketed rest of the 4.9 million dollars. You can easily understand the motives behind all this.
gp65 Sep 15, 2012 11:04pm
Afghanistan has not been calm. A base where Prince Harry was posted has been attacked.
msaj Sep 15, 2012 11:44am
Hate speech is not freedom of speach .... Freedom of expression is good a long as it is not disrepecting other beliefs especially if the religious beliefs ..... I am unable to understand why nobody can exercise his freedom of speech on holocaust ... try to post something on holocaust denial on social network such as facebook ... it will be termed as hate speech and will be immediately banned. We need to learn to repect each others beliefs and avoid to hurt others on the name of freedom of speech or searching the history ... I condemn the attack on american embassy .... however i condemn more the origination of these. the movie is not attempt to present the history it is serious offence. I agree the recent incidents on Blasphemy in pakistan are really unfortunate and needs serious regulatory and moral attention. The example you used for digital deletion of holy scripture does not fit here and just seems an attempt to confuse. The only point is the intention of the doer, if it is done with intention to hurt others feelings then it should be stopped. Moreover, switching the TV or clicking is not a solution, Y the author have especially watched it on you tube. these things will seep into the very basics gradually and any hoax created now will be considered as reallity if not challenged now. Hate Speech is not Free Speech!
guest62 Sep 15, 2012 10:06am
ZEROs and ONEs ( 0 and 1 ) or in electronic terms OFF and ON ( the only two states possible ) How can this be Insulting God almighty and The Prophet PBUH , Brilliant idea to question the Ulema !? I am 100% sure , they would not have known it before nor it would ever crossed their minds before hence they will come up like they do when they do not have any clue about , with the answer ,Its biddaat ( change in the din to put it bluntly ) hence against Islam !!!! WOW
mkb Sep 15, 2012 05:43am
Beautiful and pragmatic analysis. It is obviously a madness. You can not bog down America. Or America as a state is involved in the making of the film. What is the fault of the 4 innocent American? Is not a crime to kill innocent person? Is not the grater crime than the film? What is the wrong with Islam? Many writers (Salman Rushdie, Tasmlima) film maker (Van Gogh) Cartoonist (Kurt Westergaard ) either killed or threatened for their remark / work which purportedly gone against Islam or Mohammad. Protest is fine, express of opposite view is fine but killing, arson, threatening & mob violence do not portray good massage & test. The universe is occupied by almost 7 billion people. Out of which 1.4 billion may be Muslim, remaining 5.6 billion are non-Muslim & they do not understand this madness. Taliban had destroyed 1500 years old very elegant, a link between the civilizations, famous statue of Buddha. There was wide spared protest, Whole world irrespective of religion have condemned it, but not a drop of blood had been shed. Violence begets violence. Those who are protesting against America are the crony of America. Many of them are directly or indirectly receiving funds, getting export orders to sustain their economy. So pls. come on to your sense.
gp65 Sep 15, 2012 06:32am
As always thoughtful, wise and internally consistent. May your tribe increase.
Keti Zilgish Sep 15, 2012 06:30am
Minorities because of their inherent ability to tolerate majority nonsense are inherently superior to the majority. Remember the experiences of Prophet Mohammad before he migrated from Mecca to Madina.
Vijay Kanchan Sep 15, 2012 01:19pm
Dear Mr. Irfan Husain. I saw the movie yesterday and found it extremely offensive and vulgar, not just to Muslims but to all who would call themselves rational. But like you, I too wonder what is the point in venting frustration by rioting and burning our own property ? Best regards/ Vijay Kanchan
Surendran Sep 15, 2012 01:09pm
As usual a very balanced article by Irfan Husain but the message will be lost on the radicals, who are looking out for such events and their actions, which have drawn condemnation from wide sections of Muslims who are also deeply hurt but do not support the violent reactions. However, the short and crude clip as seen on the internet was deeply offensive and it just does not make sense to hurt religious sensitivities under the guise of freedom of expression There is nothing to differentiate between the producer and the violent protesters, two sides of the same coin, feeding on each other for their survival.
naseer Sep 15, 2012 12:47pm
I wish more Muslims demonstrate a mature thought like Irfan. People who publish profane material about Islam and Muslims want us to react in a set way and many Muslims dutifully oblige them. Illiteracy and being intolerant are biggest problems with Muslims. Writer accurately said that if Muslims had not reacted, none of this objectionable material could be so popular. Its these people who actually reacted so violently that generated so much interest. And of course, we must not forget the word Islam means, "religion of peace". Our prophet (S.A.W.W.) was called "Rehmatul Lil aalameen" (kindness to all, not only Muslims). This is the reason, our prophet (S.A.W.W.) never picked up sword, never fought in any war.
Suresh Sep 15, 2012 06:34am
Thank you Irfan - a rational approach, but we dont live in a rational world and human kinds especially muslim do not have the capacity to think rationally, they go on rampage the moment somebody talk ills about Islam and PBUH. I am not saying Hindus/Christians are better but they don't go on killing and damaging properties. Hope sanity will prevail.
Keti Zilgish Sep 15, 2012 06:40am
"go on a rampage" is not exactly a bad idea when the poor do so against the rich but when indulged in with a religious flavour it is designed to produce negative publicity and becomes the best possible weapon in the hands of the anti-religious.
MP Sep 15, 2012 02:12pm
One of the best articles I have read, prudent and thoughtful, beautifully written. We want to read such articles more often.
Prakash Rao Sep 15, 2012 11:00am
I wonder if there are any rational people in Muslim world who agree with Mr. Irfan Husain. Even to agree with what he says may be considered blasphemous.
nav Sep 15, 2012 09:26am
.corrected... one of the bad things about internet is that news spread very fast before people have time to analyse it
Ahmer Sep 16, 2012 08:35pm
These views come easy to Irfan Hussain. He obviously writes good English but I doubt if he is a Muslim. Every right thinking person, not only Muslims, wants some control on what is put up on the internet.
asif khan Sep 15, 2012 10:08pm
Well said Rafi. The movie was posted in July and it attracted less than 700 hits until the egyptian tv brocast. It would have simply vanished with no loss of life or destruction of property except for one broadcast in Egypt. All this violent and immature behaviour is only making millions of people watch when the opposite needs to accomplished. There are tons of offensive material on the internet and we don't even hear about them because people from other religions don't publicise them by their demonstrations and violent acts.
ck67 Sep 16, 2012 02:28pm
I watched the movie. Its a dumb, childish movie, made with aim to offend Muslims.
Drow Sep 15, 2012 04:53am
Nice article. But remember, only educated and liberal like you can think like this. 90% of Pakistanis have a completely different and twisted way of thinking and they don't read your articles.
Abul Kalam Sep 15, 2012 07:32pm
When the holy prophet, Mohammad PBUH, was stoned at during his preachings, so much so that his slippers were bloodied... what was his reaction? He forgave them! On innumerable occassions the Prophet (PBUH) and God Almighty too, in the Quran, make great virtue of forgiveness. Why then do the Muslims the world over react with violence? Irfan Hussain courageously focuses on the need to change our attitudes to questions of blasphmous words and acts of Sam Baciles of the world!
Masud Sep 15, 2012 06:42pm
The question arise is that do you consider yourself a Muslim?
Rahmat Ali Sep 15, 2012 09:44am
Well written article . People who can read this would be agree with the ideas , but the problem is who will convence hardline muslim clerics and how the issue will be stoped from being politicized .
gp65 Sep 15, 2012 11:03pm
From what I understand this movie was made by an Egyptian Copt who had been oppressed by Muslims and went to US to escape persecution. So this was his way of revenge. OF course the movie was in poor taste and should not have been made. But it was a MOVIE - no-one was killed by the act of making a movie. I wish thousands of people had come out to oppose target killing of Shias or forced conversion of Hindus or descration of Ahmadi graves or in support of Mukhtaran Mai - all things that happened to their fellow Pakistani citizens. Not justifying the movie by any means but questioning the priorities of people in terms of what issues they protest and which they ignore in their apathy.
sja Sep 15, 2012 04:28am
Digital Darkness AGE----""""Instead of calling for them to be banned, why don
eli Sep 15, 2012 09:32am
agree with u
Asif Sep 15, 2012 05:17am
When the prophet (SAW) was subject to indignities, and persectued, how did he react ? Did he exhibit patience or did he fly into a rage ? I believe we all know the answer ! It is perplexing, sad, and pathetic to see how many of us Muslims are reacting to a movie which cannot have any effect on the stature of the prophet (SAW). Enough said!
Rafi Sep 15, 2012 08:37pm
this artical is sheer common sense, which sadly is a very uncommon commodity in the muslim world.
Laeeq, NY Sep 16, 2012 01:16am
Unfortunately, American constitution guarantee freedom of speech and government can not do any thing about it. They are not able to throw some quick amendments in the constitution to make it islam friendly. You have equal rights to write against to any religion and no one will take you in the court or a mob will kill you
gp65 Sep 15, 2012 10:58pm
I wish that were true . But the lawyers who threw rose petals on Qadri were neither ignorant nor illiterate, neither was Meher Bokhari due to whose ongoing tirade Salman Taseer was killed.
Bob Sep 15, 2012 05:42am
Grow up people, this is an age of mass communication and you are still living in 14th century. This over reaction is a symptom of societies not undestanig the modern times and thinking. I do not how this promote your cause when this 3rd grade clip can cause at least 10 death. The guy who made this movies is smiling at the success of this 3rd grade production. he won and you lost when you reacted in this fashion.
ck67 Sep 16, 2012 01:14am
Good article. people are free to say and think, one can not shut their mouths. Muslim need to learn to live with it. For last 1400 years they been shutting people mouth by threats and killing anyone who question Islam. Because of internet more and more muslims will be able to see both good and ugly side of Islam.
Muslim Sep 15, 2012 08:05pm
Mr.Irfan it is very easy to write such words like "....I am at a loss over why people insist on watching or reading material that offends them, whether it is blasphemous or obscene. Instead of calling for them to be banned, why don
S. Nasir Mehdi Sep 15, 2012 08:13pm
Media should tel and educate ignorant masses
Agha Ata Sep 15, 2012 01:42pm
Good reasoning, very logical, but for those who can reason and for those who can think logiclly. But while discussing "blasphemy" we have to deal with people most of whom--certainly not all of them-- are ignorants or illiterate, or both.
Rajeev Nidumolu Sep 15, 2012 05:03am
As you really pointed out that there is no way anyone can censor or control material in internet. US with all its technical sophistication could not prevent Al Qeda videos and propaganda on the web. .There is offensive material against every religion on the web posted by crackpots . But followers of different global religions other than Islam do not react in the way as followers of islam do.Having said that why is it that only Muslims cause violent international riots in response to offensive material ?Some serious thinking needs to be done. May be informed educated people with Islamic heritage like you can enlighten the rest of world about the above question
Nadeem Sep 15, 2012 05:02am
Gentelmen give such sermons to others also. The writer is good at finding faults at home - always. He has inferiority complex.
nav Sep 15, 2012 09:24am
Mr Hussain you very correctly said the movie would have sunk without all this violent propanganda may be few hundred would have seen it ( i saw the clip there was nothing very intersting in it or which made any impression on me ). I think one of the bad things is that news spread very fast before people have time to analyse it
asif khan Sep 15, 2012 09:58pm
how can you hold American government responsible when some nut case does something crazy with the computer? According to American Constitution every speech is protected regardless of what people feel about it. It is part of their constitution and thats what makes America a great nation.
Irfan Sahotra Sep 15, 2012 12:28pm
Instead of ordering Youtube to remove this film from its website, American government is beefing up security of its diplomatic missions in almost all Muslim countries. Some Americans have already been killed and a few others may get killed till this fury is over. So what could have been achieved through a simple administrative decree is being attained by spending millions of dollars and through potential loss of human life. All this goes to prove that Americans are as fanatic about their cultural values like so-called freedom of expression as Muslims are about their devotion to Islam. Therefore, talking about what is reasonable and what is not is purely futile in this situation.
M. Alvi Sep 15, 2012 12:24pm
You are right; perhaps 99% Pakistani's are not enlightened enough to have the views similar to the ones expressed by Irfan Hussain in his article, and do not read such articles. But, I think it is still worthwhile to reinforce the ideas of that 1%. With time, it will multiply and become widespread. Societies change, but not fast enough that we like to see. Keep the hope alive.
sja Sep 15, 2012 09:34pm
pathanoo Sep 15, 2012 11:49pm
I also condemn the effort of this individual. But I disagree with you. He has every right to say what he wants, as offensive as it may be.That is freedom of speech. It is not selective (freedom of speech). Either you have it or you don't. Almost ALL AMERICANS condemn this sucrilous attempt to insult the muslim prophet Muhammed. We Americans respect ALL religions. No Exceptions.
jay wall Sep 15, 2012 11:05am
"No government can do anything about it, so to burn down a country
Lakshmanan Krishnamurti Sep 15, 2012 11:10am
Very thoughtful and balanced. So long as folks continue to come out of Friday prayers and go on a rampage, there is no need to look for a conspiracy against islam. The folks who use the pulpit to spread hatred and rouse the passions of the pious to violence against those who are different or merely poor and defenceless are the leaders of the conspiracy against islam. That no such hatemonger has ever been prosecuted is incomprehensible to me. But give it time, those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. A time will come when society will tire of being manipulated by individuals who are only trying to increase their own power. The fall from grace of these individuals will be a pretty sight to watch. I hope it happens in our life time.
Nabeel Akhter (@nabeel1988) Sep 15, 2012 11:56am
You talk about muslims being intolerant. What are your views on the act of Royal Great Britain act after publishing of topless photos of their princess in closer magazine? If they can get this intolerant on a photo of their princess. Tell me what Muslims should do when someone tries to humiliate the Beloved of Allah (SAW)? I live in Uk and I am seeing the acts of this government taking every possible action of creating hatred for that magazine. This is not about tolerating when someone insult your father.This is about our Prophet for God Sake. They are creating a false image of Islam and Muslims because of which Muslims in the West have to face a lot of hatred. But you will never realize it. You talk about their self proclaimed historians suspecting our History of Islam? these Historians have called the era when Muslims ruled the World as "the Dark era". thats what they are teaching their children. They have portrayed Muslims as villains in history. You talk about being tolerant. When you will say in front of a jewish crowd that holocaust never happened or only 1000 people died in that incident. They will not only kill you but make it a headline in newspaper that this guy insulted our forefathers and that is what will happen to anyone doing this mistake again. and you talk about being patient? Hats off...!!!
M. Salim Sep 16, 2012 02:39am
Very well articulated thoughts and views which reflects the aspirations and views of intellectually enlightened Muslims, which sadly comprise small segment of the teaming millions.....
Tayyaba Sep 16, 2012 02:39am
Excellent article,
pathanoo Sep 15, 2012 11:56pm
Till the Muslim masses understand that just because some one insulted their prophet; they do not have the right to kill him or some innocent people who had nothing to do with that insult; they will be thought of as barbarians, intolerant and extremly violent uncontrollable people. Just for the record, I am agaianst insulting the muslim prophet Muhammed or any other religion's prophet. We must, and almost ALL AMERICANS do, respect other religions. We Americans are taught that from early childhood in our homes and in our schools starting at kinder Garden. Can the Muslims say that?
Venkat Sep 16, 2012 01:27am
My deepest regards to you Sir for such a wonderful article using the most appropriate words. You made my day. Venkat
Tuglaq Sep 15, 2012 11:52pm
Ridiculous! Under that logic the Pakistani govt. should apologise to Hindus for the text books that are published in Pakistan that offends Hindus! That is more egregious. It is kind of logic is what gives the political mullahs a free ride!
allgoodthings Sep 16, 2012 11:00am
Agreed! but do you have any views on ensuing violence...
Civi varghese Sep 15, 2012 11:31pm
Very nice article.Congratulations to Dawn news for publishing it.The Ambassador and the others who were killed might not have seen the offensive film?
Gerry D'Cunha Sep 15, 2012 12:05pm
freedom of speech does not mean one has the authority to insult a God's messanger who is no longer on this earth and His followers respect and honour His name - I fully condemn this cowardly act by a few inhuman people in america and feel sorry for the muslims around the world who have hurt their sentiments.
sam Sep 15, 2012 06:27pm
this aticle proves that level headed people live in Pakistan though very few....................
Zaigham Ahmad Sep 15, 2012 06:24pm
I understand that no government is involved in it, ambassosors and others should not be harmed, but dont you think american govt should be apologetic to muslim world and as gesture of respectting emotions of muslims responsibles should be punished.
Zaigham Ahmad Sep 15, 2012 06:18pm
I would like to beleive you are against the way muslims are responding to this extremely disrespectfull act, not responding itself.
Bashir Sep 16, 2012 06:11pm
Clearly these extremists have nothing to do with Islam. Neither Holy Quran, nor the conduct of Holy Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) had anything to do with these kind of violent reactions. In several places in the Holy Quran, it is mentioned that if somebody tries to offend you in the name of Islam, just say
bkt Sep 15, 2012 08:59am
The level of tolerance has not only gone down, but it continues to plummet. However the Channel 4 documentary was based on the assumption that if there was no contemporary evidence on early Islam and on the Prophet, then his existence at the time was to be questioned. This is hardly scholarly or academic. If you look at China and its knowledge of the outside world there is a gap there. Just because there is no evidence of a certain glorious period of Rome in Chinese documents, does this mean that Rome never existed and was actually made up centuries later? Because that is the argument here. Similarly the lack of documentary evidence on the period of the Emperor Chin from surrounding countries like India or Central Asia, should equally indicate that this period of Chinese history was all made up and never really existed. This is not scholarly. If anything it reeks of ignorance.
Satyameva Jayate Sep 15, 2012 05:19pm
Very pertinent, indeed.
NASAH (USA) Sep 15, 2012 04:39am
We should be glad that Pakistan and Afghanistan are relatively calm.
Shehram Khan Sep 15, 2012 08:04am
"While some may regard this as a triumph of Islamic activism, it only reinforces the view of Muslims as intolerant." Totally Agreed!
AC 80 and 308 Sep 15, 2012 04:03pm
Wow! my thoughts, but expressed much better. The sad part is that people reading this probably already share these views. It will not get to people who need to hear a different view point, weather they agree with or not. Bravo!
AB Sep 15, 2012 04:04pm
What a marvelous, serene and an appropriate article! An irrational exuberance is a part and parcel of being a human however its expression is our own doing. We must learn not to dignify by bringing attention to the film like "innocent of Muslims". It gives them further encouragement to produce the same materials based on its scope and far reaching consequences. I'm an Hindu and I recall in recent years there was a problematic issue in Russia on Bhagabat Gita and it was settled without any fanfare. It does not Hinduism is better than Islamic religion there are good and bad followers in every religion. What Mr. Hussain said we may garner more respect and humility by rationalizing our behavior rather than responding to an impulse. I already provided a lots of link to Mr. Hussains in the cyberspace other readers should do the same.
Think Sep 15, 2012 04:02pm
Well written article -- thoughtful and thought provoking
Ash Mirza Sep 15, 2012 06:05am
Dear Mr. Irfan Husain..... WOW, I am so glad to read your article...very informative. I think people can learn a lot from it. You are right. I am in USA.. and people are very upset to see the news about attack on Americans in somany muslim countries. Even that Muslims in America have more freedom than Europe. Thanks for your article. Sincerely, Ash Mirza
Cautious Sep 15, 2012 03:52pm
Are you sure it's only 90?
Mozam Sep 15, 2012 06:07am
Well written Pakistan needs to change
Mohammad Ali Khan Sep 15, 2012 09:53am
We need the power of a free mind, not a set of fragile beliefs.Any belief which cannot protect itself is not worth protecting under any law.It is not our duty to protect God,Prophets or holy books.The truth in them is their protection.If there is a strong feeling in your blood that it is your duty to protect them,then you are believing in a weak God,weak prophet and weak book.
Prakash Sep 15, 2012 06:17am
Hats off to you sir Irfan, very courageous article, Thnk you DAWN for publishing it
sadi Sep 15, 2012 02:52pm
wonderful writing
S.KAUSHIK Sep 15, 2012 06:28am
Irfan deserves credit for placing things in the right perspective. Granted that the youtube is offensive and is the work of a mad man. But how is a Nation responsible for this. Some fanatics were responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. but the Americans at large did not violently protest in front of Arab embassies . Why ? Because the Americans as a whole are more civilized and informed to distinguish between sanity and acts of insanity. I only wish well known Islamic scholars condemn the violent reaction of Muslims all over as insane and misplaced. I hope the Mullahs appeal for peace and prayers not retribution against innocent westerners. Islam is a religion of peace , and Muslims should not do something that disproves this.
ashfaq ahmad Sep 15, 2012 02:41pm
very true.
Cyrus Howell Sep 15, 2012 02:34pm
EXCELLENT TITLE. You are filling a need here. I have been online with a young Indian woman all night who is very angry with Pakistan. Thank God the internet is expanding. Millions more people will have college degrees at the end of this century Straight up - this will offend many people. All the Muslims rioting against the United States do not have an agenda. They are angry because they know that Islam is failing.The US is not the source of that problem. It is misdirected anger. >> ... what it does is confirm the widespread impression in the West of Muslims as volatile, irrational people." I am risking my money on Shia Islam because the Prophet Mohammed will have to return and straighten out the corruption. PROPHETS HAVE ONLY ONE MESSAGE WHICH IS ALWAYS THE SAME ONE. "You have discarded God's Law." A warning always comes with that message. It is not a good idea to know more than God. Do not let God to take suo motu notice of you.
Kumar Sep 15, 2012 02:29pm
Thank you Mr Irfan Hussain. Some time back I mentioned about blasphemy and digital age in my reply.. It is impossible apply them. Also, I questioned how the Holy Quran been preserved for 1000 years. What happens to old copies?
hikmat Sep 15, 2012 02:28pm
its really pathetic to receive sms from the so called educated people demanding boycott of the products of Holland knowing nothing about the country of the filmmaker .Again the unwitting circulation of these sms and demonstrations have led to the unwanted advertisement of the film .Alas! we are at loss once again.
Rafat Sep 15, 2012 02:24pm
Excellent article and very wisely spoken. Rational thinking is much needed.
Jayakumar Sep 15, 2012 02:20pm
Dear Mr.Ifran Husain, you are a gem of a person in a mullah controlled country. Pakistan needs more people like you. In U.S.A., people make fun of Jesus, Budda etc. on TV and nobody cares. This shows their mental maturity.
Ravi Sep 15, 2012 04:10am
It is known muslims are intolerant to anything non-muslim or any criticsm. Even muslims staying in western countries avoid wishing merry christmas but gladly accept eid mubarak. This is simlpe rule give respect to others then others will respect you. Impression of people that muslims are intolerant and violent at little provocation is proved by muslims themselves at many occasions. Muslims should know as they consider their religion so sacred and best, same way others also believe their religion to be sacred and best.