Extremism on the streets in Lahore

An unpleasant series of banners and posters dots Lahore, celebrating Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Salman Taseer, and calling for the death of Asia Bibi, the Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and now awaiting her appeal. Take the example above… “Ghazi Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the whole nation is proud of you.”

Ghazi being the term used to describe someone who has fought for Islam.

I saw the banner yesterday, the same day that Jamaat ud Dawa had organised a rally to mark Kashmir day, attracting tens of thousands on to the streets. You can see their black and white flag in the background.

Anyway, this piece in The News on Sunday magazine goes some way to describing the authorities’ apparent reluctance to clean up graffiti or rip down posters

“It has become so easy to lynch someone in the name of religion,” says Zohra Yusuf, a social activist. “Imagine a person who decides to clean the walls and take off intimidating posters. Someone shouts he is a blasphemer and a senseless mob gathers up immediately to attack.”

At the same time though, it’s becoming slightly tiresome to hear how political leaders are implacably opposed to extremism, and would love to put an end to it, but can’t for fear of the consequences. David Miliband bought the same line during  a visit a couple of years ago, according to another recently released cable…

Miliband questioned after his meeting with Sharif if the Punjab authorities had allowed the police to give JuD leaders advance notifications of the police raids conducted in the wake of the Mumbai bombings. Hickey asserted, however, that Miliband had the sense that Sharif genuinely wanted to shut down the networks but was scared for his own safety and unsure of the political capital it would cost.

How long can this go on for? There has to be something seriously wrong. Lahore is such a fun, vibrant city… but with ugliness hanging on every street corner.

It is true that religious sentiments have stopped many people from even discussing the subject. But where is the government?

“It has become so easy to lynch someone in the name of religion,” says Zohra Yusuf, a social activist. “Imagine a person who decides to clean the walls and take off intimidating posters. Someone shouts he is a blasphemer and a senseless mob gathers up immediately to attack.”


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