Islamabad, Jan 18: Have Pakistanis “really been driven to the edge of insanity in our subservience to the maulvis and mullahs” an editorial in a leading daily wondered on Monday, after a teeger chopped off his own hand to punish himself for a blasphemy he believed he had committed. The editorial “‘Accidental’ blasphemy” in the Daily Times said that in a country where religious fundamentalism has so vehemently branded itself on to the psyche of the common man, one call on a mosque’s loudspeaker is enough to send hoards running to kill the unfortute person accused – something that is hardly be surprised anymore. “However, recently an appalling incident has surfaced in which a boy, 15–years old, cut off his own hand to punish himself for the blasphemy he believed he had committed,” it said.
The issue origited at a gathering at a local mosque, located in the Hujra Shah Muqeem town, a small village near Lahore, where the cleric after telling the listeners that those who love Prophet Mohammad always say their prayers, followed by inquiring who of them had stopped praying.
According to accounts, Mohammed Anwar, ostensibly mishearing the question, raised his hand, after which the crowd instantly moved to accuse him of committing blasphemy. “After this, he went back home and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate and presented it to the cleric. On being asked during the interview if this was painful for him, he responded with an unequivocal no.” The editorial said that while the “insanity of the brutal act is completely lost on the young boy, the rest of his community including his own family has since come together to celebrate and revere the boy for his act. Latest reports say the cleric has been arrested on the charge of instigating the chopping off”. It added that the daunting realisation that extremism and faticism, rampant within all facets of society, domites the way religion is understood confronts us time and time again, and this incident too is a clear reflection of it. “However, the sheer savagery of this act compels one to ask: have we really been driven to the edge of insanity in our subservience to the maulvis and mullahs that we now chop off our limbs in order to acquire the status of a believer who has been indoctrited by their parochial and dogmatic interpretations?” The daily went on to say that the “black and white mindset has coloured religious interpretation in such a way that people have turned religion, in its essence a potent force driven by ratiolity and reason, enjoining a way of being that is humane, merciful and tolerant, into a convoluted version that constantly demands violent retribution from others and from one’s own self”. (IANS)