A distinct way of thinking

Pakistan is working hard to model mindless slavish submission to religious mandates for the rest of the world, and to bully everyone else into doing the same.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered Internet service providers to block YouTube — all of it, not just the offending videos. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has asked Interpol to take up the matter. And he wants the United Nations to develop international legislation to stop the circulation of material deemed blasphemous.

Think of all the religions in the world. What a lot of material could meet the description “deemed blasphemous.” Just imagine a world in which all such material was forbidden to circulate. Just imagine the mental poverty.

…it’s not just Islamist extremists and radicals who are offended by the video. One of the groups marching to the US consulate in Karachi on Friday will be the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. The party is lead by Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan, and boasts a significant following among the country’s Western educated upper class. Arif Alvi, the party’s Secretary General, said the western, Christian world should understand that Pakistanis, and Muslims in general, have a distinct way of thinking.

“You can’t come in to a society and say ‘this should be painful and this should not be painful.’ What is painful to us is painful to us. And we expect countries to recognize that,” Alvi said.

That’s an appalling, self-destructive thing to say. You don’t want to claim a “distinct way of thinking” – it’s an invitation to contempt. You don’t want to claim it’s a national characteristic to get upset about farfetched offenses to a long-dead human being.


  1. Saikat Biswas says

    And he wants …. to stop the circulation of material deemed blasphemous.

    All the while upholding the right of his own faith to attack and vilify almost every other faith on the face of the earth. A distinct way of thinking indeed.

  2. sailor1031 says

    “What a lot of material could meet the description “deemed blasphemous.” Just imagine a world in which all such material was forbidden to circulate.

    Nah! He only wants to ban what he finds offensive. The fact that Pakistan’s behaviour is so frequently offensive to many other nations doesn’t bother him – we all just to have to accept that is how they are. This is not a two-way street.

  3. machintelligence says

    I don’t see that “we are right and you are wrong” is a distinct way of thinking. It’s pretty common, actually.

  4. raymoscow says

    As Richard Dawkins pointed out some years ago, most religions blaspheme the other religions in their basic doctrines. Do they want to outlaw the expression of other religions, too? (Of course they would if they could.)

    Blasphemy is unavoidable. Embrace it.

  5. DaveL says

    Christian world should understand that Pakistanis, and Muslims in general, have a distinct way of thinking.

    Only it’s not a distinct way of thinking. It’s the same attitude I often see from Christians who’ve spent their lives in a bubble of privilege, and have never been challenged to develop critical thinking skills. It’s also the same attitude I see from young children who lack the experience and cognitive development to question why they believe the things they do and why others might disagree.

    That’s not a coincidence.

  6. sunny says

    “Think of all the religions in the world.”

    Actually, for Raja Pervez Ashraf there is only one. There is no need to think of all the religions of the world. By definition, their adherents are infidels and should submit.

  7. Shaker Srinivasan says

    Killing any life form – camel, cow, fish, chicken, even a tiny ant – is painful, very painful to the followers of Jainism. I expect countries – and that certainly includes Pakistan – to recognize this, and immediately order all its citizens to become vegans.

    The U.N. should condemn all forms of killing and eating flesh, and ask its member states to pass laws to ban this despicable behavior which, of course, is nothing but a manifestation of Jainophobia and racism, because almost all Jains are brown-skinned.

    I must add that the ban should include all fertilized eggs as well, because we know very well that life begins at conception 😀

  8. says

    Dr Amjid Muhammad is a senior adviser of the Ahlus-sunnah Wal-jama’ah Association of Australia, whatever that is.

    He believes that blaspheming the prophet of Islam should be illegal, particularly in countries where Holocaust denial is banned.

    If it came down to a choice between either legalising Holocaust denial OR banning all communication deemed blasphemous by whoever, then I would favour allowing Holocaust denial. Hands down. (As a matter of fact, I am not sure if the latter is banned here in Australia or not.)

    Shaker @ #7 is right on the money. Each religion blasphemes all the rest, inescapably.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/western-freedom-to-insult-can-look-a-lot-like-hypocrisy-20120924-26haw.html#ixzz27Q3zehAo

  9. says

    “In Australia, there are no specific statutes prohibiting Holocaust denial. However, the Australian courts have made it clear that Holocaust denial is a form of antisemitism and vilification, which is prohibited by Federal anti-discrimination laws. In doing so, Australian law has developed genuine protection against Holocaust denial, and has demonstrated that Jews will have a means of redress.”

    You learn something every day. This is what in Australia is commonly referred to as a ‘Clayton’s’ ban: that is, the ban you have when you are not having a ban. (Clayton’s being marketed as ‘the drink you have when you are not drinking’.)


  10. F says

    I would tell these people the same thing that I tell other people who want (always imperfect) internet filtering for themselves: Stop fucking looking at it if you don’t like it. Nothing just spills out of the internet and your computer, you have to go looking for it. So just stop.

  11. says

    I have read somewhere that the Mediaeval church banned the writing of music in triple (ie waltz or 3/4) time on the grounds that it was a blasphemy against the Holy Trinity.

    Which shows how far and wide the cultural and scientific quagmire can extend once the idea of blasphemy is allowed into law.

  12. says

    My view of it is: if any gods wish to demand blasphemy laws, they shall be required to come forward themselves, in person, and present their petition directly to the relevant legislature.

    No, dearies. None of these alleged shifty proxies of yours. We’ve been having some trouble with that lot–they keep delivering rather mixed messages, after all, about quite what their bosses had in mind…

    No. You, in the flesh, with thunderbolts or tridents or whatever’s yer standard totem, thanks.

    After all, the legislatures are august bodies. They should be able to expect to deal with the top people…

    (/… or half-goats/half-people, depending on the pantheon, of course. We’re trying to be inclusive, here.)

  13. Tim Harris says

    I’d be interested to learn what political interests and considerations underlie and drive this sudden rage against blasphemy.

  14. grumpyoldfart says

    Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered Internet service providers to block YouTube

    Aren’t we lucky in the West? Christians would never try to force their ideas on the rest of the population.

  15. arkestral says


    Simply put? Whether you’re talking about a military or civilian government (in Pakistan), the truth is that appealing to religious fundamentalism is often regarded as a sure-fire way to cynically gain/reinforce votes or strategic allies (Look at Zulfiqar Bhutto re: the Ahmedis, and banning of alcohol, for instance). You’re also seeing aspects of blowback that are terrifying the authorities, who want avoid getting their throats cut, via redirection.

    The “sudden rage” in part stems from General Zia deciding that blasphemy be punishable by death, back in the 80s. Factor in low levels of literacy, high levels of poverty/unemployment, funding from Saudi Arabia (for madrassas), not to mention years of the military and ISI basically creating the Taliban by funding radical mosques (Lal Masjid). This guy, for instance, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Gul, was reportedly addressing protesters during that idiotic “Day of Love” that we had last Friday (I live in Lahore, Pakistan, for now. Long story).

    As for Raja “Rental” Ashraf? He’s essentially another corrupt politician (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raja_Pervaiz_Ashraf#Political_career) looking to make hay out of the whole affair. Blowback from Pakistan’s involvement in aiding the US pre/post-11th September 2001 – as well as plying the other side, as mentioned earlier – is at play.

  16. vaiyt says

    Great. Since every religion is blasphemy to at least some other religion, they would all end up banning each other.

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