The Deafening Silence


The Deafening Silence

By Mona Hassan

January 12, 2015


Human kind is experiencing a very deadly decade. Only in past few years I have heard more deadly news in the name of religion than anyone would like to admit. Ibb, Charlie Hebdo, heartbreaking and enraging public flogging of Raif Badawi, Boko Haram massacre, Peshawar and Rawalpindi terrorist attacks are just a few covering the headlines and news strips these days. Like our Dil dil Pakistan heart-throb turned misogynist mullah JJ, we haven’t forgotten about another pseudo religious scholar Amir Liaqat’s affirmative agreement with a very clear and deadly “religious” order disguised in a message that resulted in the death of at least one young (Ahmadi) Pakistani. Another 52 year old man accused of Blasphemy was gunned down after being released from jail for being mentally ill. Even a modestly small peaceful vigil of about 100 people remembering Salman Taseer on his death anniversary in Lahore was trashed by an angry religious mob.

It seems that every nook and corner of the world fighting a war internally that is being initiated by the religious goons sitting elsewhere through their minions. Heaven forbid if you dare to question those acts, their motives or the religion, have a discussion over controversial religious aspects and laws such as Rape and Blasphemy. Our society and especially these “upholders of religion” would chant religion of peace while drawing blood in the streets or burn people alive. See the irony?  The term “peaceful religion” has quickly become a misnomer now and for rightful reasons. There comes a point where you have to make a clear determination and acknowledge that either the religion we proudly associate with is anything but peaceful or as a nation and society we have become savages who feast on human flesh and blood and present human sacrifice to please our god or prophet. Sure I have heard it like broken record a million times, all Muslims aren’t the same and I agree to not put every Muslim under one category. But the way and speed we are “progressing” in this department, pretty soon we all either will be terrorists or dead.

Silence 1There is a group of our (human) kind that feels emotionally detached from the society minding their “own” business no matter what. They listen, they see, they feel bad, offended, may be disturbed as well but they rather not say or do anything about it. Then there is a mindset that thinks societal problems are not their business unless, it is a cricket match with India, Israeli attack on Gaza, someone draws a cartoon or says something that emotionally hurts their religious sentiments. We all watched Salman Taseer’s vigil thrashers’ video and can vouch for their language and behavior that was shown against a very peaceful gathering and then there was Charlie Hebdo. Same reason, same reaction, different intensity. Lahore got lucky this time around with some bruises, Paris not so much.

During that controversial show by Amir Liaqat, there were five other clerics present with full house of audience who either affirmed the message given or remained silent. If there is any significant protest we saw against it was from our own hero Muhammad Jibran Nasir and a small group of civil society stood with him. His active protests have been going on since the Pehsawar attack and even after setting a fearless example, people are still reluctant to make an effort or even raise their voice against the acts of terror. These are the people who don’t say anything and they are all “Passive supporters[1]” of terrorism. Passive terrorism, as I mentioned in my previous article in detail, is much more dangerously potent than some religious thugs thrashing Taseer’s vigil, or burning a house full of people in Gujranwala with children and a pregnant mother inside. As my friend Saif Rahman says, “Passive Terrorism can be done with words and silence, and the sound of silence is deafening.”

In a small group discussion following the Charlie Hebdo incident, about free speech, criticism and voicing opinions, I and my friends realize that the Cultural or Moderate Muslims although in a greater number but a lesser voice than they should be. They are the silent majority; the group of people who do not want to be identified with the terrorists’ or more vocal critics’ version of Islam, the “killer ideology.” JibranThese are the people who have fallen into the pit of indifference equally towards terrorism and criticism. They don’t want to be part of any debate that is either bashing or defending Islam. They simply do not consider it their war. Going through twitter news-feed over Charlie Hebdo I spotted one by Anderson Cooper quoting a Charlie Hebdo fellow cartoonist ….they’ll continue because his massacred colleagues “would be murdered twice if we remained silent.” If we remained silent our kids in Peshawar will be murdered twice, Salman Taseer will be killed again, Ahmedis and Shias will be re-slaughtered and Dr. Abdus Salam’s grave will be desecrated over and over again. Like Jibran Nasir said in his latest poem “We will keep fighting the fear,” dedicated to Shehbaz Taseer “You will stay standing quiet like this; and we will keep dying in this silence” (Translated)

Instead of letting liberals like Bill Maher fighting their war against extremists its time Cultural/Moderate Muslims take the lead and stand against terrorism themselves. Because let’s face it, all over the world, wherever terrorism emerges, its terrorism in the name of Islam. There is a time when apologetic explanations and guilt to defend your religion via offence doesn’t work and it has already stopped working. It’s the time when picking a side between extremist views isn’t a solution. It’s the time to identify and stand with the different view, the moderate and cultural view, the view our silent majority holds. It is neither the terrorists’ version of religion that Muslims feel obligated to defend just because it’s the same religion they share nor the other extreme that Muslims feel obligated to reject because it has no religion. A small number of Moderate Pakistanis are seen and making news these days. They are trying very hard to identify the real terrorists putting all the fear behind them and stand with the country no matter what language they speak or what religion they follow.  They have organized and given call for worldwide protest against terrorism on the 16th of January. Be part of it, stand united against terrorism and make each of your voices count.
#SayNotoFear #SayNotoMilitancy #SayNotoTerrorism #ReclaimPakistan

Mona Hassan is HCMA (Humanist & Cultural Muslim Association) Communications Manager and Human Rights Activist; Author “Barely Legal”; @monaahassan