but not Humane
is disturbing how newspaper headlines of terrorist attacks
no longer shock us as much as they did before. It has become
a part of our modern life where even terror is globalised.
Even so, some stories continue to have shock value, not so
much for their novelty factor but for the sheer contradictions
they portray. Last week, a tiny news item on an Imam of a
mosque raping his eight-year-old student managed to instil
enough disgust and anger to warrant a demand to know just
how do our religious leaders view such a crime?
given the undeserved right to impart religious education,
to basically tell children what the right path is, these individuals
have immense powers that they may or may not abuse. Their
teachings are held unquestionable. Their immunity is guaranteed.
But when someone who is given such respect and honour, violates
the most basic codes of ethics, what is the punishment?
a grade four student, used to go to the Imam's house in Fatullah
for Arabic lessons. On the day of the incident, people in
the area heard the child's screams and rushed to her rescue.
They also beat up the Imam and handed him over to the police.
This was the only sliver of a news on Monday, February 14th's
back page. After that, it was business as usual. There were
no protests in the streets or statements of condemnation.
What was most interesting was that there was apparently no
reaction from religious leaders who would obviously not want
to be branded with the perverted imam's camp. Some may say
this was an isolated incident and that among the thousands
of pesh imams in the country there is bound to be a debauched
one or two. But even our lackadaisical media has reported
several incidents of Imams committing this crime. It does
not take much insight to know that many more sexual assaults
take place by so-called religious leaders than get reported.
In most cases, the influence and position of the culprits
allow them to get away with it.
rape of a minor, no matter who commits it, is the most reprehensible
crime. But when it is done by someone who commands the highest
level of trust and reverence in a community, it should be
seen as even more monstrous.
us to the strange but true phenomenon of how many of those
sit on the highest moral platform and profess to be the true
preachers of religion, pay very little attention to human
rights violations, especially those pertaining to women or
girl children. Fatwas or religious edicts are promptly pronounced
and sometimes even executed for women who are deemed to be
'immoral' or impious. Often their so-called crimes are not
even verified and believed on mere hearsay. Last week, a fatwa
was imposed on a young housewife, ordering that she be buried
alive because she had been found immoral by her in-laws and
more importantly, by some female fakir from another village.
Luckily for the woman, her father, along with his associates,
managed to rescue her before the terrible sentence was carried
is always the perceived morality of the woman that seems to
be the biggest preoccupation of these moral police. It is
always whether the woman is observing purdah, whether she
is unwaveringly chaste, that they obsess about. There are
no instances of fatwas being announced to condemn the throwing
of acid on women to disfigure them for life, the torturing
of girl domestic workers, the killing or abusing of wives
by their husbands or, for that matter, the rape of women or
dictates are supposed to protect women and children from all
forms of abuse. Unfortunately, in present religious practice
there is very little compassion for women. Religion in our
times is imposed, in a form that reveals the parochial culture
we are stuck with. It relates to the age-old machismo tendency
of to overrule even the true spirit of faith or a basic sense
of what it means to be humane.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004