A bounty calling for murder is not Islam, Mr Bilour!
How outlandish would it be of me to suggest that Mr Bilour be disciplined for his actions and removed from his post?
Not too long ago, the trailer of a film called Innocence of Muslims was released on the internet that hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world.
The content of the film was vile and offensive, and it was clear that the only purpose it had been made in the first place was to elicit some sort of negative reaction from the Muslim population.
Muslims around the world expressed their displeasure through various means. Many took to Facebook and other social media. Some made drastic gains creating misleading photographs such as fallen cinemas that had apparently suffered the wrath of God, with captions claiming that each 'like' was equivalent to ten slaps on the faces of the filmmakers.
The photo below has been shared a lot on social media. It is actually a photo of the catastrophe caused by an earthquake in Chile, in 2010.
Others took this opportunity to help increase awareness about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), creating a better understanding of the religion and the man revered so much.
Thousands of Muslims took to the streets to protest, and while many were indeed peaceful, things got out of control with damage to infrastructure and property, and innocent people losing their lives in the violence and looting.
What purpose did it serve, apart from the loss of billions of rupees due to shutdown of trade and creating footage of angry Muslims in violent fits of frenzy?
This only provided fodder to critics of Islam who want to portray the religion as backwards and barbaric. Perhaps this question is better answered by the enlightened souls who took part in the violence.
In an ideal world, the government would have had a system in place that ensured the safety of all the protesters and prevented any damages or loss of life. They would have used their platform of influence to enlighten the people about the practicalities of the situation and the folly of their actions. They would have made the people understand that we cannot let our life’s course be dictated by any crazy bigot with access to a video camera.
Our leaders would have told us that it is with our actions and our words that we honour the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and that one should be confident in our belief that our religion was strong enough to withstand anything that its opponents could throw our way.
In an ideal world, our leaders would have led by example, showing the world that the negative stereotyping of Muslims is wrong, and that we are a peaceful people.
Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world. This is Pakistan we are talking about, and we get a weak and inefficient government bending over backwards to appease the extremist elements in society. We have our Federal Minister for Railways, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, putting a $100,000 bounty on the head of the filmmaker, saying it was the only way to stop insults to the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
All that was missing to perfect the scenario was the sounds of trumpets blaring, and knights on horseback riding out into the sunset to apprehend the intended target of the bounty, for Pakistan had already been dragged into the Middle Ages.
Forget the government, this was a man who took his position as a representative of people seriously. The massive amount of global media attention that his actions evoked showed people what a mature leadership Pakistan has and what a peaceful nation Pakistan is.
Surely they would never take this as an elected official seemingly sanctioning the murder of an individual, would they?
If so, nothing to worry about, for as the saying goes,
“There’s no such thing as bad PR, just PR.”
To top it all off, the Taliban removed Mr Bilour from their hit list.
Now I would never suggest that this was just a ploy to appease the extremists and court the far right vote bank, taking advantage of the raw anger and sentiments of a large percentage of the electorate. Now that would just be wrong to do!
It’s obvious that Mr Bilour is just a man who loves the Prophet (pbuh). In fact, so strong is his devotion, that it shouldn’t be difficult for him to resign his position as the federal minister of railway and a government representative. Then the bounty would just be a personal reflection, rather than one from a person meant to be an elected official.
I would also never suggest that the bounty is a ridiculous stunt not worthy of someone in a position of responsibility. I would never suggest that the money could have been better used to help fight poverty, or to build a school or to feed the hungry ─ practical solutions that would have honoured the memory of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
It would be wrong of me to suggest that Mr Bilour be disciplined for his actions and removed from his post as Federal Railways Minister. Now how outlandish would that be?
Read more by Mani here or follow him on Twitter @BallerinaAngry
Join us on Facebook and Twitter for blog updates and more!