A Bad Week For Religious Tolerance


It’s been another bad week for religious tolerance.

At least 70 people were killed and 300 injured after Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban, attacked a crowded public park in the Eastern city of Lahore, to coincide with Easter celebrations,

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters clashed with police in Islamabad in protests over blasphemy laws in Pakistan. Outraged at the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri for murdering Governor Salman Taseer, accusing him a  “blasphemer”, the demonstrators called for the imposition of Sharia law. They also denounced draft legislation in Punjab outlawing violence against women.

In the Iraqi city of Iskandariya, a suicide attack by so-called Islamic State killed at least 32 people at a football match.

The cause of religious minorities in Bangladesh was also set back. A court dismissed a 28 year long battle to revoke a constitutional provision declaring Islam as the state’s religion.

My home town of Glasgow has had it’s own taste of these troubles. First, a leading Imam at the highly regarded Glasgow Central Mosque was revealed to have sent messages praising Mumtaz Qadri in Pakistan and condemning his execution. He claimed these were taken “out of context”, but it’s hard to see how.

Then, there was the tragic murder of much-loved Glasgow businessman Asad Shah, outside his own shop in the South Side of the City, allegedly by a fellow Muslim. Mr Shah, belonged to the Ahmadi Islamic community which promotes “love for all, hatred for none”.

Asad Shah

Citizens of Glasgow gathered in to commemorate Mr Shah and promote peace and tolerance, and a GoFundMe page has raised over £90,000 in support of the victim’s family.

Secularists face real discrimination in parts of the Muslim world. From where I am in the UK, it’s hard to know what we can do to help. Please, let us know.

By Roger Dubar, Glasgow, Scotland 

The writer can be reached at   roger@zapcoder.com


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