Assassination Of Taseer: A Death By Religious Extremism And Politics

Posted on January 10, 2011 in Specials

By Ipshita Mitra:

Following the revolutionary lineage of the dissenting voices of Dr. Binayak Sen, Tasleema Nasreen, Irom Sharmila, Liu Xiabo and Aung San Suu Kyi among others, Salmaan Taseer, Governor General of Pakistan is the recent addition in the forsaken domain of Human welfare as the voice against Human Rights violation. His brutal assassination yet again confirms the dreaded reality of how an authoritarian and a militaristic regime can exercise an overpowering control over resisting forces who do not even engage in violent manifestation of protest in their demand of change and modification of state policies that more than often threaten a stabilised development of society.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s emphatic voice against an oppressive regime of the Myanmar Government subjected her to an almost ten years long house arrest. Her powerful messages of building democracy for the people of a conflicted Myanmar created a furor and mobilized millions towards her words and plan of action. Suspecting her to be a threatening element to the established status-quo that more than often seem to be dictated by those seated in positions of high rank catering to the needs and vested interests of certain privileged sections, Suu Kyi was slapped with a severe punishment of exile so that her motivating slogans and awe-inspiring oratory and rhetorical skills could not influence the masses any longer. A State especially when it is governed by a set of parameters and it does not wish to alter or disturb its existing state of affairs make sure that even those with a desire to witness change in a decadent apparatus are denied the inroads into the machinery for introducing reforms and schemes to a better health of society.

Similar happened with Salmaan Taseer. He wanted necessary modifications in the “blasphemy law” which he termed as the “black law” for he recognised that it could be used to only propagate religious intolerance among sections of people with opposing religious beliefs and systems. Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (inserted by the draconian government of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq) of the law was drafted in such a manner that all a Muslim had to do in order to assert superiority over other minority religions (without foundation embedded evidence) was to just allege that the concerned person from another religion (Hindu, Christian etc.) had spoken against the teachings of Prophet Mohammad and thus committed a sacrilege which would then become a legitimate pretext upon which that individual would be tried under the “blasphemy law.” In Salmaan’s case too, all he had asked for- was justice for Aasia Bibi who was falsely alleged to have referred to a contentious issue regarding the origin of the Holy Quranconsequently deeming her act as “blasphemous.”

Salmaan tried to save her from being taken to the gallows for no concrete evidence but instead met with a cruel execution himself. He lost his life and so did the land of Pakistan which failed to save a courageous leader who stood against fanaticism of this order. The New Indian Express has aptly called his death as “felled by fanaticism” for in his own attempt to challenge the regressive clauses of the Bill in the federal legislature, he himself became a victim of religious extremism and intolerance.

The role of media is significant in such cases. It should highlight how the edifice of democracy is degenerating with proliferation of such deleterious acts and activities which have the possibility of washing away the faith of people from the ruling governments in power. Tolerance is the key towards a democratic development of a country and it is vital to ensure that sanity prevails in all circumstances. Such killings should not be justified or encouraged whatsoever but be condemned so that a mass awakening is created in strengthening the social fabric of a nation.