Richard Bartholomew takes a close look at the ghastly Rao Abdur Raheem, the lawyer intent on persecuting the girl of 13 who may have thrown out a few pages of a primer on the Arabic alphabet.
In December 2010, Raheem created a self-described “lawyers’ forum”, called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet; according to the New York Times, the group produced a petition in support of Qadri which was signed by a 1,000 lawyers in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Members of the group also reportedly ”greeted Mr. Qadri’s… court appearances by throwing rose petals”.
Qadri, you’ll remember (yes you will, because I blogged about it a lot!), is the bodyguard who shot Salman Tasser to death for the horrible crime of offering support to Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman accused of “blasphemy” and saying rude things about the prophet by a neighbor after a quarrel about touching the water container. (Yes really. Purity and contamination. Blasphemy and murder.)
That Times article Bartholomew cites is useful too. It says the younger generation of lawyers in Pakistan were raised to be…well, like Raheem.
…under General Zia in the 1980s, the government began supporting Islamic warriors to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the Indian control of Kashmir, and the syllabus was changed to encourage jihad. The mind-set of students and graduates changed along with it, Mr. Minallah said.
That change is now no more apparent than among the 1,000 lawyers from the capital, Islamabad, and the neighboring city of Rawalpindi, who have given their signed support for the defense of Mr. Qadri, who has been charged with murder and terrorism.
Their leader is Rao Abdur Raheem, 30, who formed a “lawyers’ forum,” called the Movement to Protect the Dignity of the Prophet, in December. The aim of the group, he said, was to counter Mr. Taseer’s campaign to amend the nation’s strict blasphemy laws, which promise death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
The Times reported on the simmering furies yesterday.
Christians had been living side by side with the Muslims more than 12 years in the locality, the men in the barbershop said. There had been no overt tensions earlier, but Christians said they felt pressured not to perform their religious duties openly.
“We pray inside our houses,” Mr. Ghori said. “There is no sense of freedom.”
But nearby, in the area where Muslims live, several conservative Muslim men complained about how Christians lived.
Nadeem Haider, 20, a Muslim shopkeeper, said he was repelled by the sight of Christian women, who mingled freely with men. “They spread vulgarity,” he said and added that liquor, which is banned by Islam, is available in the Christian neighborhood.
“Repelled.” We know. That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it.