Violence and Fear– Religion Unbalanced

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, condemns the assassination of Salman Taseer. Unbalanced religion proudly claims to own the one right path to God; balanced and faithful Muslim (and Christian, and other) religious approaches embrace inter-religious co-existence.

First, here’s the story in a nutshell: Pakistan has an anti-blasphemy law, which makes it a crime to blaspheme God. Problematically, this law has been invoked in such a way as to target religious minorities: Christian belief in the Trinity, for example, is considered by many Muslims blasphemy against God, whom they understand as One. Narrowly interpreted, then, any Christian could be charged as a blasphemer. Aasia Bibi is a Christian woman who was charged, convicted, and sentenced to death under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law. Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab, defended Bibi and called for reform of the law; Salman Taseer was then assassinated by his bodyguard– who claimed to be doing a good thing by killing a blasphemer.

Condemnation of the assassination of Salman Taseer has come from Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (photo above), as well as Pope Benedict. Each leader is pushing back against a narrowly “religious,” life-denying  possessiveness of God:

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of slain former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has called those who celebrated the murder of a liberal politician who sought changes to the country’s blasphemy laws “the real blasphemers.” via Bhutto’s son: Pakistanis who praise Taseer assassination are ‘covert blasphemers’ –

For his part, Pope Benedict XVI called for repeal of Pakistan’s blasphemy law this past Monday.

Zardari’s remarks may be intemperate, but they do point to the struggle in religion– Christianity not excluded– and within whole societies– between those who will accept the challenges of a plural modern world without fear, and those whose fear lead them to kill those identified as Other.

It’s Pakistan, but there are analogies to the US.


4 thoughts on “Violence and Fear– Religion Unbalanced

  1. Good piece. How interesting when we here in the US are debating the proper or improper use of the words “blood libel” that another country is legislating against words about religion. How ironic. I’m not suggesting it’s a good thing. It isn’t. Free speech and free press are the foundations of democracy, as is religious freedom. Violence is rarely the answer, perhaps never. And it leaves me to wonder if John Lennon wasn’t onto something when he said, “imagine no religion …” Can the good ever outweigh the evil done in religions’ name(s)?

  2. Pingback: Religion At All? (Let Alone in the Balance…) « Religion in the Balance

  3. Pingback: Follow-up: US Envoy to Raise Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law for Discussion on Official Visit « Religion in the Balance

  4. Pingback: Owning God: More Assassination in Pakistan « Religion in the Balance

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