By Raja G Mujtaba

The blasphemous film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ that was produced in California has rocked the entire world. It has become a global issue that would need a global solution. Most protests though have been self-hurting but Pakistan and Libya made big news. From what I heard from those who saw the film, the contents of the film would not be discussed because I did not have the nerves to see. I could not be a witness to such a projection about a person who is the most revered, admired, loved and respected. He changed the destiny of the mankind has been ranked at the top of 100 most influential personalities by Michael H Hart, an American researcher: “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart, reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history.[1]

The first person on Hart's list is the Prophet of Islam Muhammad.[2] Hart asserted that Muhammad was "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms. He also believed that Muhammad's role in the development of Islam was far more influential than Jesus' collaboration in the development of Christianity. He attributes the development of Christianity to St. Paul, who played a pivotal role in its dissemination.”

Likewise there are many writers from the West who wrote in high praise of prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Since 9/11, attack on Islam has been very relentless and frequent. In fact these attacks have made the non-Muslims from the West read more about Islam and its Prophet that in turn enlightened them to the extent that many embraced Islam as their faith. This recent attack through this film has once again increased the curiosity amongst the non-Muslims to read about Islam that has brought in a further surge in people adopting Islam as their faith. According to one estimate, at its peak, about 500 persons in a day were reverting to Islam just in the United States. The present figures are not available but has picked up again and the sales of Quran and Seerah (biographies of Prophet Muhammad) have taken a quantum leap.

Those were the positive developments though not intended by the producers of the film but their blasphemous act brought a boost for Islam. Now coming to the negatives that occurred in the Muslim societies that only hurt themselves and did not even gain the public sympathy at home, what to talk of making any dent in the far off lands. The only advantage it may have had is that anti-American sentiment went further up in every Muslim country in particular and in other sane societies in general. Even the American public is ridiculing this film and so called freedom of speech that hurts the religious feelings and sentiments of the others. It is said that freedom of speech is to hurt others but on their political or social values or the cults that have emerged in complete contrast to generally acceptable religious ethics, norms, values and moral codes. If this freedom is not checked in its dimensions, it can and to a large extent it has destroyed the societies from within like termites.

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In Libya it was a trap laid out for the US to jump on Libya with its boots to avenge the killing of its Ambassador and other staff. Even the Secretary of State has shown her reservations and in carefully worded words she was hinting at Israel. Many a times in the past, Israel has hurt the US to get it involved in conflicts in the Muslim World; attack on USS Liberty is a glaring example of such attacks.

What was witnessed in Pakistan was a self-destruction mode. It was not only the parties in opposition but as said the PPP also manipulated it in such a manner to ignite and frustrate the people to go violent. One such purpose of doing so was to get the Army deployed and pick up a dead through army action. When some insider informed me of such a thinking going on, an immediate message was flashed through social media to draw the attention of all concerned.

Apparently this message was timely and perhaps Army became more vigilant not to fall prey to this heinous thinking where Pakistan Army would have been pithed against its own people on every street of the country; once can only imagine what the end result would have been.

When announcing the protest day, the government could have chalked out a more mature strategy where they should have got all the stake holders on board and asked them to form a delegation of various parties who could be escorted to the US embassy to formally lodge their protest and return. This would have been highly appreciated by the civil society and the world at large.

Now besides losing 23 lives and a couple of hundred injured, it’s said that Karachi alone has suffered a loss of over 22 billion Rupees in one day. Private property was ransacked, banks were looted and burnt, policemen were being shot like ducks and there was no control over the whole issue.

Some major factors for this sorry episode are:

  • People view the present government as a US puppet. Therefor they do not trust it over any issue in general but where the US is involved in particular.
  • People are dying of poverty and social injustices; they found an opportunity to vent their frustration.
  • The government is completely disconnected with the people, in complete contrast, the government functionaries are leading a luxurious life that further humiliates and hurts the public sentiment.
  • There is no justice in spite of the fact that the judiciary is claiming to be independent but in the lower courts situation is no better. Murderers, rapist, terrorists etc. get away with anything and everything no one to check them.
  • Judicial process is so long that frustrates people whereby they are compelled to take law in their own hands. Famous saying, Justice delayed is justice denied has no better description as its prevalent in Pakistan.
  • Finding an opportunity, the outside forces played their cards to add fuel to the fire.
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There was no reason to get violent; the government should have made arrangements with the protestors. The protestors wanted to get to the US embassy in Islamabad and its consulate in Karachi. It could have been done if the government had so desired. A delegation of the protestors could have been taken peacefully who would have lodged their formal protests by taking them over to the Ambassador or any of his designated representatives. But that was not the intention of the government either; it was turned into point scoring match where all the players were playing their games. On Friday, 23 valuable lives were lost but who cares? The ruling PPP was out to outscore the other parties and the other parties were trying to prove that PPP is not interested in a peaceful demonstration.

The rally that we staged had certainly got the admiration of the society for being peaceful and non-violent. Violence serves no purpose but creates more problems. Though it is said that there is lot of frustration in the society, that fact cannot be denied but then the public should have hounded for those who are responsible for their frustration. Destroying public or private property, killing people does not provide any solution.

The worst feared was that there was a thinking to drag Pakistan Army in this imbroglio. All they wanted was a dead body or two at the hands of the army; had that situation arisen, a hell would have been let lose against the army thus creating a situation for foreign intervention. The US is looking for an excuse to do so, the PPP-MQM-ANP alliance is all too eager to do so. This news of foul play was flashed on the social media to alert all concerned which did work.

Pakistan media was totally focused on violence but completely blacked out a mammoth rally of thousands and thousands of people that was marching on road with its tail not in sight but highly disciplined and impressive. Media never showed a glimpse of it. All they showed was violence, burning, killing, tear gas and firing.

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On 19th I had given a call for a peaceful protest in front of Islamabad Press Club, though it was not large in numbers but had the presence of some of the highest standing personalities. Here Ijazul Haq, former federal minister and Admiral I. A. Sirohey were also present. The notable feature being that we also had the Christian community in the rally. The Pakistani Christian community has always been in the vanguard of any national issue. In all the wars of Pakistan, they sacrificed their lives defending the borders and honour of Pakistan.

One thing I must mention here that many from the middle class who are quite active in the drawing room discussions and attacking the generals and lethargy of the people were themselves finding ways to stay away from the peaceful protest. The presence of Admiral I. A. Sirohey, former Chief of Naval Staff and Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, an aged man participated with full spirit; this must have irked the younger lot.

Blasphemous attacks are a global issue for the entire Muslim, these need to be tackled in that dimension. To do so there are three options available that must be explored.

  • The Muslim countries must raise the issue at the UNO and get a resolution on such heinous acts. To do so it would need a determined effort to face all the stiff resistance that it would get.
  • OIC must also adopt a strong resolution that should bind all the member states for a collective action. But moving the OIC maybe even harder as the governments supporting it only can go that far as the US would allow.
  • The most effective solution could be to call for an International Conference of the Muslim Scholars from all over. Such a call should be an effort of the Muslim Society and the governments. These scholars should deliberate and release a joint communique that would have a far reaching impact. This would have bypassed all the governments and formed a parallel body to OIC. If this can be achieved then the Ummah would emerge.

If we do not deliberate and find a common solution to this menace that emanates from the West then certainly we do not need an enemy, our self-destruction would be triggered. In doing so, if the contribution of some responsible people from the West is also solicited, that would further cement it.

My interview with Fars News may also interest the readers.