A few days ago Salmaan Taseer, Governor of the Punjab province, was shot from behind. Mumtaz Qadri, who was assigned to Taseer as a bodyguard, pumped over twenty rounds from his assault rifle into Taseer’s back.
Salmaan’s supposed crime? Defending a woman, by speaking out that she should not be killed. Why was she to be killed? She had been said to have committed the crime of blasphemy.
Here we have Qadri, bouyed by numerous outspoken sharifs, mullahs, and politco-religious groups of Pakistan, not only admitting to the killing, but, with those others, claiming it was a good, justified, and righteous killing.
Over what? Over differing beliefs. In this particular case over an insult to their god, Allah. So here we have a tale, one where mortals must defend the honor of a supposed being – a being claimed to be powerful enough to create a universe and all the laws therein – but apparently not powerful enough to defend itself from possible slander.
This tale is pervasive. Blasphemy laws don’t just exist in Pakistan, and this odd notion that the most powerful being in the universe must be protected from criticism because it cannot protect itself can be found throughout all religious societies.
If that is not a shining example of madness, of the insanity of religious beliefs, I don’t know what is. More frightening, this is merely the beginning of the tale. The shrill cry of religious extremism is fast gaining ground in Pakistan and those who would oppose it are being cowed into silence by threat of death. Taseer was an example to all those that would try to talk sense – it will not be tolerated, your reward will be a
gunshot in the back, blood on the street, and legion are those willing to bring these threats to fruition.
The ramification here is that Pakistan is not without teeth. It has a capable military and possesses nuclear weapons. That thought combined with the open celebrations of Taseer’s death as shown in the Guardian’s article creates quite the queezy spot in my stomach.
Madmen with the weaponry, moreover the willpower to kill based off of a faulty, bronze-age belief system. Rationalism cannot win in the face of that.
It only further proves both Christopher Hitchen’s point, that eventually religion poisons everything, and Steven Weinberg’s quotable, “With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil — that takes religion.”