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Pakistani Muslims must honor prophet Muhammad – by protecting Christians

Pakistani governor Salaam Taseer was assassinated for speaking out against the blasphemy laws that condemned Aasia Bibi (a Christian woman) to death. But to truly honor the prophet Muhammad, Pakistanis must repeal these laws – to protect, not persecute, minorities.

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Murder and blasphemy

While the federal government promptly issued statements that no amendments would be made to the blasphemy laws, Taseer responded differently by posting on Twitter: “I was under huge pressure 2 [bow] down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing.”

He stands no more.

On Jan. 3, his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri, shot him multiple times with a Kalashnikov. Why? According to Interior Minister Rahman Malik, Mr. Qadri told police that he killed Taseer because the governor had called the blasphemy law a black law.

While this is the most high-profile murder surrounding gross and frequent abuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, it clearly is not the first. Due to communal hatred spread by these laws, more than 101 members of the Ahmadiyya (a minority Muslim sect) and more than 20 Christians have been killed by religious zealots since 1986. In June 2008, the entire population of Rabwah (the town that serves as the headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in Pakistan) – 60,000 people – was charged with committing blasphemy.

Responsibility to follow Muhammad's true legacy

How did the prophet Muhammad show his mercy to the poor, the slaves, and the oppressed? One simple behavior: listening. Pakistani media must provide a voice to the oppressed minorities. And the citizens simply need to listen – just like the prophet did. Only then can we begin to change an atmosphere of hatred into an atmosphere of mutual understanding. Doing so is crucial not only to repair Pakistan’s image but also to demonstrate the true legacy of prophet Muhammad.

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Who knows how and when this ordeal will end in Pakistan? The movie, A Few Good Men, however, ends with Colonel Jessup admitting to ordering a “code red,” prompting his arrest. When the two marines accused of Santiago’s murder are dishonorably discharged for “conduct unbecoming a United States Marine”, one of them yells: “Colonel Jessup said he ordered the code red. What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.”

The other responds, “Yeah we did. We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves”.

Despite every indication that the conduct of Pakistani religious, judicial, and political authorities is unbecoming of a true Muslim, they continue to maintain a defensive posture: What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.

And the voice that tried to valiantly respond to that question has been silenced.

Aasia Bibi must be worried in her prison cell, praying for a few good men.

Faheem Younus is a former youth president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


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