Couple of posts ago, I heaped scorn on a crazy mullah and wondered if there needs to be a public rating system on Imams and other religious figures. Marlowe, always up for giving people monkey-heads, agreed with me. Today, I thought about it a little more seriously after reading the "good" news that Hashem Aghajari's twice-ordered death sentence was commuted to a three year prison sentence.
Professor Hashem Aghajari taught history in Tehran and, in 2002, spoke at a rally for students. At this rally, he challenged the people to stop following the clergy blindly like monkeys and called for restructuring religious authority. As a result, Prof. Aghajari was sentenced to death for apostasy and bringing shame on the state of Iran. The sentence was appealed. And upheld. Finally, the Supreme Court issued its ruling last month that Aghajari was not an apostate. He was instead charged with "insulting religious sanctities, propagating against the regime and spreading false information to disturb the public mind". None of these charges carry the death sentence.
Prof. Aghajari spoke up against a brutal regime of mullahs in their house and in front of thousands. He accepted his death sentence and his appeals were carried on largely by other groups. He endured the last two years largely in solitary confinement in the Evin prison - one of the worst in Iran. That, my friends, is what courage looks like.
I spout nonsense on a blog sitting in Chicago. Do I have that courage? To lead a rally or to publish my honest opinions against the Islamicists or the military dictators or whosoever? I don't know. I would like to think that even if I was in Pakistan, I would have posted the same things. But even Pakistan is not Iran.
I take for granted that I can say what I want and protest what I want. But, I do so without sacrificing anything, without jeopardizing anything, without threatening my very existence. Zack, in his post on prejudice, points to a few cases of Bush-Country going haywire because brown men were taking pictures or talking on the plane. Those cases, while arresting, are not of people standing up for their beliefs. I have yet to hear of someone sent to jail for expressing their opinions against Bush.
So, what I am trying to say, I guess is that proclaimining the mullahs are full of merde and demanding a public rating system is damn easy to do here. It may still be a necessary task, I know. But the real contribution is if we can help those who do that while facing death. Bring those stories to the world public. Write those letters to the diplomatic staff.
Do something. [ alt. link ]
I agree blogging about these issues from the safety of the US is quite easy. Very few people actually risk their lives for their beliefs. I am not sure I am one of them.
Yeah, I often feel guilty for not doing enough by just blogging about the issues that I am concerned with. While risking your life for a certain cause may be honourable, in a recent article of his, Prof. Asef Bayat proposes a different strategy to achieving social change. You can get the link to the article from a post I posted just yesterday: http://chanadbahraini.blogspot.com/2004/07/art-of-presence.html
well i think something is better than *NOTHING*..blogging for the truth and uncovering something illicit in the society is also a courgoeus thing!! how many blogs 'actually' point or speak up for the truth??? i dont see many?? do you?? and i guess it also depends at which level of platform you are working... ofcourse one cannot justify the courage like Hashem Aghajari or Aung San Suu Kyi etc etc with sitting on a easy comfi-leather chair and posting on blogs ; but like i perceive it : working on different levels!! but both my dear requires 'courage' in the end!!! so keep up the goodwork!!
As far a public debate is concerned, the print and electronic media in Pakistan is quite open in its scathing criticism of the mulla. It is becoming part of the political process i.e., the MMA taking a panga with the army and the guardians of the country see the mulla for what they really are, This breath of fresh air we owe to Musharaf for the 180 degree turn he took from being the spokesperson for the taliban to becoming an exponent of enlightened moderation (whatever that is).As far a heaping scorn on the mulla goes, punjabi and seraiki poetry is replete with examples of treating the mulla as the scounderal and theocracy painted as an impediment. (Buss mulla, hik alif qafi - Enough already Mulla! The alif is all I need - reference to universal truth of Allah) 200 years ago people wished death upon the mullah as they wished them and their orthodox ways the worst fate for the crime of corrupting religion. It is only when civil society becomes subservient to scounderals like ziaul haq that seeds of contempt for civil liberties are sown otherwise life in villages was peaceful until religion became the yardstick for partition. So sitting in the cool environs of your windy cities, keep on speaking the truth while our society gets its own house in order. And the hypothetical scenario of you being in Pakistan wanting to say the same things as openly, somehow I see such a time not in the too distant future where one can speak their mind as to openly condemn the institutions that have done us harm.