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Monday, December 13, 2010

If You Ever Think Your Life Sucks...

... you could be one of the hard-working people living in a religious theocracy. You could live in Evangelical Uganda, where biblical law is adhered to in an attempt to control the population or in  Saudi Arabia where a literal interpretation of the Qu'ran is used as the weapon of enslavement.

  We can certainly appreciate our freedom when we consider those who live in countries where the fear of insulting some metaphysical monster is all-consuming. In countries like Iran, a good kid can be required to fight for his life for merely questioning the Abrahamic faiths' treatment of women and those who use scripture to justify their cruelty. Gratitude is an easy thing to muster when one takes a look at the struggles of someone else, a person who is so much like yourself but has the unfortunate bad luck of being raised in the wrong society. Someone like Pakistani doctor Naushad Valiyani.

  Dr. Valiyani is your average urban physician. He's modern but still religious, and in this instance Muslim. Living his normal day-to-day, the good doctor never thought that he would be on the wrong end of Pakistan's restrictive blasphemy laws. But the gentleman was arrested recently anyways and the rationale behind the apprehension boggles the mind.

  Dr. Naushad Valiyani, an educated man who saves lives for a living, is sitting in the slammer for indiscriminately throwing out a man's business card. It began as a simple thing. Pharmaceutical rep Muhammad Faizan gave the doc a business card. The doctor threw it out, presumably because he has a ridiculous amount of requests to buy and promote medications. but this case is nowhere near over. Mr. Faizan complained to Hyderabad police about the incident. You see, Muhammad Faizan felt slighted that Dr. Valiyani tossed away his card and because the drug salesman's name is the same as Islam's founder, it is an offence to the fragile faith. Even though Dr. Valiyani meant no harm and assured the rep that his name had nothing to do with tossing the card into the trash, he was detained on Friday anyway and could very well suffer criminal consequences for an innocent act.

  Nations like Pakistan use anti-blasphemy laws to control the population and their thoughts. Enlightening democratically-elected people have been assassinated because the nation is swept up in a religious fervour. The few who don't want to see their modern cities sent back to the 1100s are in peril today because extreme creationist beliefs are being used in an attempt to castrate intellect. The case of Dr. Valiyani as well as the plight of Asia Bibi are proof that fundamentalism and democracy cannot coexist. It's not Islam that is the issue,  polar belief systems are used to subjugate women in Jerusalem and incarcerate gays in Christian Africa. God is like any other mind-altering vice. It's best enjoyed in moderation and you probably shouldn't drive under the influence of it.

  Existence is a wonderful thing when we consider ourselves the equal of our neighbours. We may have more or less melanin, have a different religion or none at all, be taller or shorter, fatter or thinner. But regardless of our differences, we are remarkably the same. We hope for our children, kiss our spouses, go to work, and fix that annoying leak in the roof. The greatest defence against psychological warfare is to recognize just how alike we really are.

Be well.

Photo note: The men in the above photo are chanting for the enforcement of a death verdict against Asia Bibi, a member of Pakistan's Christian minority convicted of blasphemy.

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