Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Robert Jensen, Farid Esack, and Junaid Ahmad on The Lal Masjid and Pakistan...

The Robert Jensen article keeps coming up...where, as I saying earlier, we have Farid Esack, Junaid Ahmad, and Robert Jensen telling us that Pakistani liberals, it seems, "[i]nstead of talking about these fundamental questions of justice" "might ignore ... movements [like the Lal Masjid brigade] and conflicts in the outer provinces" ... and yet "found it offensive that such an embarrassing incident could happen in the capital, where the world eventually would pay attention."

What I get from this article is that there are two, and quite reminiscent of George Bush, only two possible ways to look at the phenomenon of this fanatic, militaristic manifestation of Islam coming out of Pakistan. You either caricature it, or you give it the sympathetic hearing these respectable---and I mean that without sarcasm--want to give it on the premise that what Abdul Rashid and his cohorts are about is those "fundamental questions of justice".

All of which amuses this Pakistani liberal/progressive/whatever no end. (As a friend of mine just put it over the phone from Pakistan, "when it comes to Pakistan, the definition people seem to have is that if you're not a mullah, you're liberal"--a definition these gentlemen seem to subscribe to.) Especially since I am FROM one of those "outer provinces". And the descriptions of the bullet-marked madarassah in Islamabad that everyone is wringing their hands about could very well have been a description of any of the colleges and universities we went to in the 80s and 90s in Karachi. We've been living at the business end of the firefights between the mullahs, the military, and the militant ethnicists for a few decades now. And I am sorry, but my personal experience--and I guess it is biased by my dealings with the "moderate Islamists" that I keep hearing about (the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba was our local manifestation)--is of exactly us "liberals" having been the only ones actually working on human rights, and freedom of speech and the like, when these Mullahs were in government with the last military dictator we had. Was it these Mullahs lining up to take on General Zia or Asma Jehangir?

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