Do we even want this barbarism to stop?

Published: August 24, 2010
The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, US

The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, US [email protected]

What are some of the key features of the Sialkot tragedy? Innocent young men being mauled by a mob filled with hate, and with dozens of people standing by, including the police, all doing nothing. These are not the hallmarks of a regular terror attack where in a split second dozens of lives are lost.

There is a striking parallel between the Sialkot lynching and the massacre of more than 90 Ahmadis in Lahore on May 28 this year. Those worshippers were just as innocent — and the assailants filled with just as much hatred, even a willingness to give up their lives in the process. At the same time, there are differences as well.

In Sialkot, the family of the victims came to know about the tragedy after it had happened. In Lahore, the family members kept on begging the police to intervene. At least the whole nation is — rightfully — united in mourning the Sialkot tragedy. The massacre of the Ahmadis received a mixed reaction. Some expressed sympathies while others distributed sweets at the murder of the ‘infidels’. The relatives of the Sialkot victims are allowed to express their side of the story on the media. The Ahmadis were shown a copy of an ordinance and silenced.

Why are we so brutal as a society? Could it be lack of education? Or is it lack of law and order? Is this an American conspiracy? Could RAW be behind this? Is God angry with us? Where do we go from here?

Like a heroin addict, who keeps on needing a bigger dose for the same high, the mobs on the streets of Pakistan seem to want more and more – of blood. And they cheer when they see blood. I think that gruesome incidents such as these public executions are only going to increase because intolerance in our society is so prevalent and there is no sign of it abating. In any case, such things are already happening in parts of Fata under Taliban control. Media representatives, or folks willing to make cell phone videos, will have front row seats reserved. Executing the minorities would not ‘move’ the crowd. But something like cutting the hands of a nine-year-old ‘thief’, stoning a woman in objectionable clothing, or flogging a DVD store owner would.

We may say that we want to stop this barbarism. But do we? The state is behind the draconian laws that instil prejudice in Pakistanis from an early age. The clerics continue to push for a rigid and orthodox version of religion and are quick to call others ‘kafirs’. The influential and the elite come on talk shows and do just that— talk. The masses are indoctrinated with hatred and bred on a diet of resentment and anger caused in large part by lack of governance. And those who can change something instead change their country of residence.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (34)

  • Aug 24, 2010 - 3:54AM

    There may be many explanations for whats going on, but one explanation could be that these are the symptoms of a frustrated and impotent society, which feels helpless in changing what’s happening around it. The easiest thing to do is to met out justice. The mob that stood around while the two boys were battered to death, constituted the immediate “society” at the scene. Once they had accepted what was going on, the perpetrators could met out their brand of “justice”, for they had no opposition to their actions. He who remains silent, consents. Recommend

  • Aug 24, 2010 - 5:18AM

    Well said Dr. Faheem Younus, but we just love to mourn. Don’t we?

    Perhaps it is our addiction to gore that we allow such things to go on unchecked and we always live through them just fine and find climax in mourning.

    We saw the butchering of 90 Ahmadis, and we lived to mourn, we watched blasting of 50 devotees in Data Darbar and we lived through that perfectly OK and we mourned. We see people being killed up and down the state of Pakistan and we are ever ready to mourn. Many dozens have been killed pointblank in Karachi, and tons of people are getting together to mourn them too. There are thousands killed in floods and millions made homeless, and we are in constant mourning. And, while all that is going on, we are now ready to mourn the ‘Sialkot brothers’

    I am starting to realize perhaps we need to control the demand side here -I know it feels so good to sympathize after the fact, our need and addiction to mourn at all times needs a serious control.

    Then, perhaps we will do something about the killings too..Recommend

  • Aug 24, 2010 - 7:01AM

    Reverence for life is an important element of what Islam is all about. The Prophet (saw) taught us this with words and deeds. We claim to be his Ummah yet we have become the worst creatures on earth. There are no rules , no boundaries . Everything and anything goes. This would appear to be beyond man’s ability to repair or amend. This demands divine intervention. Has it begun already!!! Well done Faheem


  • Aug 24, 2010 - 7:19AM

    Very well-written and hitting the nail on the head. It is true that we are barbarians. You have rightly pointed out that the problem starts as a kid when we are taught to hate people not identifying with our brand of faith. We see ‘infidels’ as worse than animals and worthy of being killed. This is preached day in and day out and we grow up in our schools learning hate for hindus and worse still Ahamdis.

    The whole school curriculum should be revised and kids should be taught true Islamic teachings of mutual love, brotherhood, tolerance and respect, nonviolence, humility, soft-heartedness and good manners. As a community, we lack all of the above and yet are proud to be called the citadel of Islam.

    In all honesty, the least this government can do is strike off the word Islamic from Pakistan. We have ruined Pakistan, let us spare Islam’s name.Recommend

  • Amaar
    Aug 24, 2010 - 7:19AM

    How true!Recommend

  • Aug 24, 2010 - 8:32AM

    A brilliantly written article. In a sadistic state of affairs, Pakistan seems to love misery. The only problem is that misery loves company, and the company here are minorities brought to the chopping block. How it will end, no one can say. But perhaps that’s a decision God has already made.Recommend

  • Aziz Bhatti (Melbourne)
    Aug 24, 2010 - 9:07AM

    A good thought provoking article. Ahmadis’ case is even worse. At lease in Sialkot case, Chief Justice took Suo Moto action, Shahbaz Sharif and Nawaz Sharif and many politicians traveled to the victim’s place ….. but on the other hand …. we know what happened … what a shame. Recommend

  • salutations
    Aug 24, 2010 - 10:14AM

    Thank you for writing this piece. I agree with you, this nonsense needs to end now, not tomorrow, not day after but now. It’s disgusting to see these heinous crimes being acted out in a society that is still not part of the global society. We are supposed to represent the best of peoples….the muslims…and yet we fail each and every time. It’s a sick disease and people need to speak up against the lawlessness of this country.Recommend

  • Sara
    Aug 24, 2010 - 11:07AM

    I blame the interpretation of religion and the economic inequality. I won’t include lack of education here because I’ve heard many so-called literate people spout the most vile sort of prejudice.

    Simply put, lack of resources leads to a miserable existence, which in turn combines with our brand of fatalism to inspire a blind devotion to the so-called ‘representatives’ of religion: the clergy. The narrow-mindedness, the bigotry and the hatred that is virtually indoctrinated by certain, vocal parts of the clergy condones such cruelty as lynching ‘infidels’. So people are able to justify such heinous acts through notions like, ‘he’s not Muslim so he deserves to die’ and ‘she’s just a woman, she doesn’t have rights.’

    It’s hateful and sad and hopeless.Recommend

  • Aug 24, 2010 - 12:29PM

    Well said. Recommend

  • zeeshan ahmad
    Aug 24, 2010 - 5:15PM

    welcome to Stone Age…. In this land only ” Might is considered right even though it proves out to be wrong ”
    – Molvi with the Might of Fatwa, an effective and powerful tool to hush any one…
    – Leaders filled with Might of Money, corruption and non-stop lies… So on and so forth cant list all of them within this brief comment. But I would suggest that people of Pakistan are in dire need of self accountability…start taking a peep into your own collars before making any demand or blaming anyone. Having a strong belief in the day of judgment is one of the article of muslim faith, but do we really believe in it….? or its a mere hearsay…!
    ” Holy Quran’s Chapter Zaarriyyat ” clearly sheds light on this article and brings forth a very simple but very important point i.e. if we have no belief in the day of judgment, no matter how many committees we establish, no matter how many forces we make, peace on earth can not be established in its true meanings….

    That’s what the people of Pakistan has to do, “the Real accountability”…Listening to the voice of their conscience…Recommend

  • tspill
    Aug 24, 2010 - 5:45PM

    Well said Dr. Younus… it seems the masses of Pakistan actually need more blood to be spilled to enjoy their caged sense of religion. Is this the will of God?Recommend

  • Muz
    Aug 24, 2010 - 7:21PM

    The reason for Sialkot killings is that people are fed up with the broken law and order system of Pakistan.
    They think that if they let police and courts handle the robbers/dacoits no one will get punished. Corruption is rampant.
    Then they see the quick justice implemented by Taliban (no matter how correct or incorrect it is) which is covered very aggressively by world media, they think that at least some one is getting punished. People in Sialkot took things in their own hands because they knew that if they don’t murderers will go free.
    The solution is to improve the law and order situation in Pakistan which I don’t see happening anytime soon. At lease there is media to highlight such events. If such an incident would have happened 10 years ago, no one outside of Sialkot would have known about it.Recommend

  • shy
    Aug 24, 2010 - 8:16PM

    Well written article about realities of the Islamic society of Pakistan.It is true all these events happened due to lack of justice.Our society has lost the fear of God.Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos
    Aug 24, 2010 - 8:37PM

    I think the last line “And those who can change something instead change their country of residence.” is extremely pertinent. One should stay in one’s country and try and change things for the better.Recommend

  • Amjad Chaudhry
    Aug 24, 2010 - 9:56PM

    This kind of Barbarism and brutality was a hallmark of the opponent to first Messiah and here is the time for second Messiah; HISTORY IS REPEATED! Recommend

  • Y. Mirza
    Aug 24, 2010 - 10:59PM

    Muz said “”They think that if they let police and courts handle the robbers/dacoits no one will get punished. Corruption is rampant.
    Then they see the quick justice implemented by Taliban (no matter how correct or incorrect it is) which is covered very aggressively by world media, they think that at least some one is getting punished. People in Sialkot took things in their own hands because they knew that if they don’t murderers will go free.”

    Your point may have some truth except the fact that in this case police and rescue officials themselves were involved in these gruesome murders. What were they thinking? Secondly, these boys were not murderers. They were innocent but even if for the sake of argument we assume that they were not, which law or religion allows death penalty for robbery (the crime they were accused of)?

    The fact is that Pakistani society has completely lost the dignity of life. No one is appalled at dozens of murders in our cities daily. People just shrug their shoulders and go by their daily affairs. Displaying such gruesome scenes on TV to people of all ages and making a media circus of family’s misery further desensitizes the society from such brutality (if you see it often enough, it all seems normal). Nobody in the group of hundreds had the courage to come forward and stop this brutality. We are such a coward nation which has completely lost it’s sense of morality. Recommend

  • Qirat
    Aug 25, 2010 - 12:51AM

    In Pakistan the clerics main emphasis is on labeling others as Kafirs. Some are made kafirs constitutionally and some by issuing edicts. The clerics have completely over looked the power of prayers to the Almighty, the worship of Allah and the duties of a Muslim to mankind. Recommend

  • Naser Noor
    Aug 25, 2010 - 1:21AM

    Pakistan and it’s so called Muslim citizens witness/commit barbarism, violence, bloodshed and corruption; and they have accepted it in the Name of their Most Beautiful Religion: Islam. Alama Iqbal said it correctly, “Yeh Musalmaan Hain Jinhe Dekh Ke Sharmain Yahud”.
    When a society deviates from the commandments of God Almighty; they simply ask for the wrath of God. The real tragedy is that Pakistan is under the wrath of God. Yet Pakistanis do not realize it. The questions to ponder upon are: Why we as a Nation are suffering from this Tragedy? What we as a Nation has done to suffer from God’s Wrath? Is it that we have forgotten the true teaching Islam? Have we ignored the beautiful life of our Holy Prophet (saw)? Recommend

  • Mohsin Siddiqui
    Aug 25, 2010 - 3:45AM

    Well said…. We are the nation with no move and we think every morning is the begning of life.

    Think What we do Individually in daily life…….Recommend

  • Miro Dolas
    Aug 25, 2010 - 10:43AM

    There are many poor and uneducated countries in the world, that are peaceful, there are many islamic countries that are peaceful too..
    Pakistan’s problem is the hatered that is ingrained since childhood.
    the laws need to change, do we really need to declare that ahamadi’s are non-muslim when applying for a passport? the school books need to change, the propaganda needs to change,
    do we really hate hindus? what does that say about our ancestry?
    is the western world really out to get pakistan ? do they even care?Recommend

  • Amna Zaman
    Aug 25, 2010 - 11:37AM

    Actions such as this within the borders leave us with shame and a much more bad name than before. The world thinks we live in the 18th century and are barbaric, maniacs. This event of intolerance will convince them much easily that we are no different than the terrorist who stand still and watch innocent die.Recommend

  • Hira Mir
    Aug 25, 2010 - 11:38AM

    Can I quote this event as a ‘regular terror attack’ in which the innocent are ruthlessly killed by not a suicide bomber but a mob? Not much different it sounds I believe. Such men shall be hanged as a lesson for others to stop terrorism in our societies. Recommend

  • Faysal Sohail
    Aug 25, 2010 - 12:05PM

    Professor Younus, thanks for writing such a thoughtful article on the state of our nation. There is nothing Islamic about the current Pakistan we are experiencing. Every organization thrives or dies based upon its leadership. We have been burdened with leadership that does not care about the nation or its people. This is something the people have control over if we still consider ourselves a democracy. Only solution is to elect leadership that is committed to the well being of the people and not self interest.Recommend

  • Shahina Bashir
    Aug 25, 2010 - 10:55PM

    Thank you Dr. Younus for your article and bringing to our attention the sad state of Pakistan. I hope that the people of Pakistan would step forward and speak out against the terrible atrocities being committed be it in the name of religion or otherwise.Recommend

  • Ahmad Chaudhry
    Aug 25, 2010 - 11:03PM

    We can blame the leaders of a country for only so long. At some point the masses become responsible for the reprehensible condition of their country. A society that keeps silent as violence and injustice thrives all around, is no society worth keeping.Recommend

  • readinglord
    Aug 26, 2010 - 12:39PM

    There is, so to say, a flood of ‘islam’ these days in the pakiland , with a din of the songs of ramzan-e-kareem and its ‘barakat’. But what is going on actually can be signified by the lynching of the young boys in Sialkot. The pakies are genrally shocked on seeing the footage of the event on the TV as though it was something new. There reaction is understandable as it is not the vigilante lynching of Ahmadies, just for calling them so, or a blasphemy accused, but a reaction of robbery and murder, a new addition, albeit, a positive one, to the list of lynchables.

    Any one who has been subjected to robbery, especially the house-breaking one may welcome this addition, but only if the accused are really guilty of the crime. Recommend

  • Farhad Fatakia
    Aug 26, 2010 - 3:38PM

    Solid piece. I’m sure you’ll get a call when the revolution comes to do something important or the other. Prior to casting elites that talk about these problems on TV shows, I think it’d be important to put into perspective the fact that you might not be doing much better, just by printing this article and doing essentially the same thing. Though I don’t want to offend you, I think you wrote a thought provoking article and I appreciated it.Recommend

  • Noshi Asif
    Aug 26, 2010 - 6:07PM

    Idle-bodied, empty-minded, illogical beings, ready to receive filth poured into their heads from any source…..and ready to act upon it like an instant trigger being pulled …….The more mindless violence, the better they like it. Similar to what I saw on 14th August, when I was here, in a supposed high security area. From 7pm to 3am hooligans [no doubt the sons of doting, stupid mothers] roaring non-stop on motorbikes without silencers. The noise of the bikes was only equalled by the sound of their raucous voices….NObody tried to stop them…no police, no security people , nothing. I can only imagine the horror if anything happened to cross their field of vision that they didn’t like….
    Zero tolerance! Zero common-sense! Zero compassion. Zero people.
    Why? They are raised on ideas of blind prejudice, hatred and paranoia from birth. They are taught that any deviation from the norm is bad or a sin…No individual thinking for anything….whether for right and wrong or for creativity…Anyone who happens to be a bit different is targeted, whether laughed at in passing, or full force fury…

    They have brains the size of a pea and egos the size of the moon. That’s why they have no idea how to laugh at themselves, how to see the humour in a situation, and how to stop taking every tiny little thing so seriously. How can they POSSIBLY laugh at the “all important ME”

    They and their bloody “clergy” feed off each other and keep this country going the way it is.
    Violence begets violence…One step backwards, encourages another.
    And as far as religious tolerance and thinking goes…..what can you say when something like the following happens:
    A very “elite” group of “intellectual” women talking in front of a studio audience in very patronising fashion about some issue which brought the subject of religion in it. At one point one guest said [ embracing audience and tv cameras with smug smile ] , “Oh well, we’re all muslims here….” !!!
    Excuse me miss elite woman……what about the many minorities in your country……how do you think they felt when you said that??? Did you forget that there are plenty of other religions represented here??? What about the christians, hindus, jews, sikhs, buddhists, atheists, and others who live here. Or those like me with NO label?? [I for one resent assumptions being made about me and being called something I am NOT…]
    Well , with any luck nobody heard you because they already switched the channel……
    [btw. i dont mention ahmadis among minorities, because they ARE muslims]….
    So the mindless part is not just in the man in the street….Its also a key part of people of all kinds who should know better, but have started some new race to ram their religious identity [whether liberal or conservative] down everyone’s throat.

    My solution…lynch the “clergy”, ban religion of any kind from politics and running of the country, and TV. Ban religion as a subject in schools etc… [i suppose I cant ban religion altogether? No? Nice try!] …And wait a few decades… Then if there are any pieces left to pick up, Good Luck to them!Recommend

  • Aug 26, 2010 - 7:51PM

    What an incredible article and viewpoint. Thank you for write a very thought-provoking piece. I hope all of us of Pakistani origin look within ourselves and our society and question why we allow for such barbarism. Why have we allowed ourselves to become so brutal? Is this Islam? What about Muhammad’s teachings of love, tolerance, sanctity of life (irresepctive of religion)? The society does not live up to the standards of Islam and then has the audicty to call itself the “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan? Let us hope that voices of hope and reason, like Mr. Faheem Younus, are given more attention than the current voices of hatred and intolerance from other leaders in Pakistan.Recommend

  • F Waseem
    Aug 27, 2010 - 6:43AM

    Pakistan has gone back to the stone age era. The constitutional actions against Ahmadis, has put the whole society into reverse gear and its backward journey in history started in 1974.
    Unless you have a thirst of new knowledge and patience for new ideas you can not dream of a tolerant society. Recommend

  • Infidel
    Aug 29, 2010 - 5:54PM

    Sharia law, thus islamic law itself, supports chopping off hands for theft. It supports, demands actually, that women, who commit adultry shall be stoned to death.

    What we see in Sialkot is nothing but the normal face if Islam.Recommend

  • liahos
    Aug 30, 2010 - 8:24PM

    All the talk about corruption, lack of law and order, ignorance, religious extremism, etc., etc., may well be true in its own right but the fundamental problem is not social, psychological, legal, political or theological. The basic issue is biological.

    Men, particularly young men, bubbling with testosterone and no outlet are going to get violent. Throughout history mankind has invented institutions like the army, the university, the monestary, the prison, etc., etc., to control ‘testosterone afflicted’ young males. A society that can not effectively ‘contain’ this restless mass of energy, experiences violence in one form or another under one pretext or another.

    So what to do? If you can not have mass castarations, then you need total sexual freedom. Any society where young men get laid a minimum of 25 times a month on average, will be quite tranquil and violence free.Recommend

  • jai
    Sep 9, 2010 - 12:10PM

    yes, the beating to death was disturbing but even more disturbing is the calls by many pakistanis to murder the murderers in the same fashion. this comes from a misplaced sense of justice and mistakenly believing that their morality is superior to the murderers in that episode. i’ve never understood why islam calls for the stoning to death of adulterers. firstly how is adultery between a couple any one else’s business and the even greater concern for the entire society being dehumanised and asked to partake in an inhuman event where a vicious crowd stones a person buried upto their shoulders to death. how is that different from this episode?Recommend

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