26 February 2007

Muslim Preacher Kills Pakistani MP Over Veil

Pakistan’s battle with Islamic extremism intensified yesterday when a fanatical religious preacher shot a woman cabinet minister for not wearing a Muslim veil at a public meeting she was about to address.

Zilla Huma Usman, Punjab’s Minister for Social Welfare and a strong campaigner for women’s rights, died on her way to hospital. The 36-year-old had previously invoked fundamentalist wrath for organising a marathon in which women were allowed to compete.

There are many aspects of the Muslim Faith and the social framework it creates that are absolutely incomprehensible as well as morally unacceptable to me personally. To exemplify, I have been struggling ceaselessly and fiercely to gain insight and ultimately understand the perverted mindset which rules that it is perfectly permissible to murder human beings - the crime, I am convinced, whose gravity is unparalleled - because rigid, mechanical notions of sexual morality have not been upheld.

To be sure, there is no denying that sexual morality is of paramount importance and should not be neglected, and the manner in which people behave in their sex lives can have far-reaching consequences and is "revealing", inasmuch as it influences the way a given person relates to the world at large and to society in principle. It is, however, secondary compared to - and is easily dwarfed by the importance of - the way people treat the vulnerable, the poor, the disabled and fellow human beings in general.

Hence, I am invariably dumbfounded when people start bellyaching about the perceived moral meltdown in the West, referring, naturally, to sex and nothing else. These sentiments are especially widespread in the Muslim community, although our own, home-bred sanctimonious individuals are deeply implicated as well.

Personally, I was awed by the response the infamous tsunami in Indonesia had garnered, by the way the West had rushed to the rescue of those affected by the tragedy. I am proud of the Western respect for human dignity and the value it places on human life — to cite just a few shining examples.

The Western civilization is far from being sinless, and yet it has a lot to celebrate and ultimately be proud of. Whatever problems we have, Muslims have no right to occupy the moral high ground. There is practically no or very little freedom in most, if not all, Muslim countries; “infidels” are treated like dirt while women like cattle; most terrorists are Muslim; tolerance is unheard of in the region — the picture hardly instills much hope.

The above-mentioned tragic incident has only served to strengthen my current understanding of the matter and perplex me further. Did the MP really deserve to die because she failed to put on the veil and massage the preacher's ego?