Int. Day against the Death Penalty: A Day to honour dissenters, notably Malala Yousafzai Print E-mail

October 10, 2012

Also at: Wednesday 10 October 2012

Honour the dissenters

By Marieme Helie Lucas

In the past few weeks, in several countries, groups of citizens have openly taken a stand against Muslim fundamentalists, including armed ones.

In Mali, on a number of occasions, citizens attempted to stop public amputations, stonings and floggings; Malian women also attacked AQMI (Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique) in an attempt to stand up against the imposition of a so-called ‘Islamic dress code’ that is totally alien to their culture ( but have you heard anyone in Europe stand up in defence of their right to preserve their culture, their traditional way of dressing which is NOT the freshly imported so-called ‘Islamic veil’ Saudi style?). In response, fundamentalist armed groups fired at them with sub-machine guns.

In India, in the city of Ahmadabad, two citizens stood their ground facing crowds demonstrating against the anti-Muslim video: The Innocence of Muslims. They held posters saying ‘just don’t watch it!’. They were seriously hurt.

In Iran, a woman beat up a cleric who made comments about her supposedly anti-Islamic outfit. She told him to look the other way, and when he persisted, she beat him up. We can be sure she will pay a dire price for it.

In Libya, on the site of the attack in Benghazi, demonstrators held signs apologising for the murder of the US Ambassador and expressing in various ways a ‘not in our name’ stance that distanced themselves from the killers. It was also citizens who initiated the expulsion of the armed militia from the cities, whilst government troops only came in later.

In Afghanistan, demonstrators physically confronted the authorities when they renamed a university with the name of a religious-Right leader.

In Tunisia, women regularly take to the streets to defend their constitutional rights and to oppose any setbacks on equality under the law between citizens –men and women.

In Pakistan, women’s organisations have been demonstrating for a secular state, with a clear separation of politics from religion, for several years now.

One could give many more examples from other countries.

These citizens are the future of their countries and of humanity. But when have European media properly reported on these events? Where has such news been given front-page attention?

How long will it take for the European Left and human rights organisations to defend the courageous people who stand up to fundamentalists at risk to their lives, rather than their oppressors and killers?

Why is it assumed that fundamentalists, i.e. neo-fascist religious extreme-Right, represent and defend the ‘real Islam’?

Why is it assumed that all those who oppose fundamentalists are anti-Islam renegades – and that therefore, if they get killed, well… they deserve to die?

Why are secularists considered ‘Islamophobic’ when they are anti-fundamentalist?

And why does the Left persistently use the terminology that has been coined by the fundamentalists: ‘sharia law’, ‘Islamophobia’, ‘fatwa’, etc… a terminology that secularists have persistently denounced and deconstructed.

The ten year long resistance to armed fundamentalism in Algeria and its 200,000 victims did not manage to change the views of the Left and human rights organisations vis-a-vis fundamentalism. Nor, it seems, the internal resistance that today, in many countries, is making itself visible.

But something may change their minds: the attempted assassination on a child in Pakistan – Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old supporter of education for girls. They shot at her and took responsibility for the attack. They declared that they would attack her again if she survives, and that anyone against the Taliban will be executed. Must it not be clear at long last that a child demanding her right to education is considered a supporter of ‘the West’, an enemy of Islam (since the Taliban claims that they are the only legitimate representatives of Islam), an ‘apostate’, and one that deserves to be physically eliminated? As all us ‘kafirs’ deserve to…

We are today’s Chevalier Jean-François Lefevre de la Barre (September 12, 1745 – July 1, 1766) – the young French man who was atrociously tortured and murdered before his body was burnt on a pyre along with Voltaire’s “Philosophical Dictionary” for refusing to remove his hat while a religious procession passed by.

No one in Europe would dream of justifying such ‘Christian’ atrocities in the name of religion today. But it seems presumed ‘Muslims’ do not deserve an equal access to universal human rights, freedom of thought and freedom of conscience. Presumed ‘Muslims’ are ‘under cultural arrest’; they are bound by customs and religion and should remain so, while the rest of humanity enjoys universal rights.

We are today’s Chevalier de la Barre, demanding our right not to believe in any religion without being tortured and killed.

We are today’s Chevalier de la Barre, demanding our right not to veil, to be educated, to work for wages, to move freely and to enjoy all citizens’ rights.

Jean François de la Barre was 19; Malala is only 14. His legal assassination prompted political changes in France towards secularism. Will hers be the price to pay for our emancipation from state-sanctioned religion and its legal implications on our lives?
This guest post is the third blog entry for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty.
The second blog entry was entitled It is possible not to cause offence,
The first blog entry follows and was dedicated to 14 year old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls go to school. This day is for her and the many like her who refuse and resist despite charges of offence, apostasy and blasphemy.

October 10, 2012

No-one is safe, not even 14 year olds

By  Maryam Namazie

Yesterday, the Taliban critically wounded Malala Yousafzai, the lovely and brave 14 year old Pakistani girl, on her way home from school.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said they targeted Yousafzai because she generated ‘negative propaganda’ and was the ’symbol of the infidels and obscenity’. If she survived, Ihsan said, the Taliban would try to kill her again.

Sounds familiar?

After all, she dared to  defend the right of girls to an education, particularly offensive to the Taliban which had banned them from attending school, amongst many other things.

When religion is in power, any challenge to it – even something as simple as a girl wanting to go to school – can be deemed offensive, obscene and blasphemous.

And this is exactly why no-one – not even a 14 year old – is safe.

In light of this stark reality, calls for blasphemy laws and censorship is nothing short of a defence of the Taliban herds and their vile Sharia rules because it denies people their thoughts, their words, their expressions, and their resistance and dissent.

All at the expense of sweet Malala and the innumerable like her – challenging Islamism day in and day out by demanding to live  21st century lives.

Today is for her and them.

This is my first blog entry for the Day of Agreement marking the International Day against the Death Penalty. I will be blogging every hour, on the hour, and will have some guest posts too.
You can see: Class Dismissed October 9, 2012, a 2009 documentary by Adam B. Ellick profiling Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl whose school was shut down by the Taliban. Ms. Yousafzai was shot by a gunman on Tuesday HERE