Humanity against bestiality

 

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Category: International 21 Dec 14

 

“It is a dark, dark day for humanity when something on this scale happens with no justification. This shows the worldwide threat that is posed by this poisonous ideology of extremist Islamist terrorism. It is nothing to do with one of the world’s great religions—Islam, which is a religion of peace. This is a perversion.”

—British Prime Minister David Cameron responding to the massacre of 148 schoolchildren and teachers in an army school in Peshawar

“Whoever kills a person [unjustly]… it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32)

Last weekend, I was at a Christmas party in London hosted by a Daily Mail journalist. There I met an Afghani journalist whose name or sex I cannot reveal. The evil of terror does that—it’s like a poisonous gas that infiltrates the air humans (we) breathe today. Talking to the journalist about living amongst extremist terrorist groups, the Taliban, the IS in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, I became acutely aware of myself and the room I was in. Men and women were laughing, mingling freely, a man was playing the guitar as a girl in a short skirt sang along. As a woman I was free. I always had been...to study, to dress as I like, to achieve my potential... whatever that is, to travel, and to be in this room where wine was being warmed with tangerines, where people were smoking and playing the guitar, where a Jewish man was volunteering to massage the shoulder of a Pakistani woman.

On that wintery night, I looked across to other balconies of merry making and below on the street, where a young woman was getting out of a cab in the dark night. I wasn’t afraid of being killed for loving books, or fashion. I wasn’t afraid of being killed for my religious beliefs. I was free to be as private or vocal about these. There was safety and freedom. Soon these words will feel like gold.

As I was flying home and while the world was going about its business, the world crossed the line into bestiality. Seven gunmen from the Pakistan-based Taliban terrorist group, Tehreek-e-Taliban, entered the Peshawar army school, around 11 am, and began firing at schoolchildren. Petrified children watched their teachers being burnt alive. One entered a classroom and asked all those who wanted to leave to put their hands up. Everyone put their hands up. They chose seven children, lined them up and shot them in the head. They threw a grenade after the headmistress who was running around warning classrooms.

They killed 148 and left dozens injured. The world reeled. Malala’s mother fainted. Pakistanis went dead silent in their grief. Their Facebook profile pictures were changed to black, nothingness. The streets went silent as they began to bury their dead. Not a single car or autobus honk or tinkle.

My father was in the Indian army. My brother and I went to school on an army bus. Army children are brought up with a strong sense of justice, discipline and patriotism. These boys would have been men, engineers, doctors, teachers who served Pakistan.

When the individual stories and pictures began, groups of young, intelligent, well-mannered looking boys who “lived together and died together,” I felt the empty hearts of all those grieving mothers. The shoelaces they tied for their sons in the morning, books slathered in blood. One student attended his classmates’ funerals all day. He was the only one in his class to survive. He hasn’t spoken since it happened.

I saw then, fireflies of light in the black. India reached out to Pakistan. Girls and boys, teenagers across India, Hindus, Christians, Muslims prayed, lit candles. In all our little games as children we would always be India against Pakistan. Not now.

Now it’s humanity against bestiality. Everyone is blaming everyone else. Some blaming Pakistan for harbouring terrorists, for riding the tiger, using them as tools. Still others blame the US for stirring up the Taliban with drone attacks. The Taliban say they did it in retaliation to the army attacks on their bases. But last night, I still couldn’t see the “why.” As I tossed and turned, my husband turned to me and said, “It’s the nature of extremism.

If anybody believes deep down inside theirs is the only path to God, and if you don’t follow it, you will be condemned to an eternity in hell, then you could justify anything. Any atrocity to make people follow your way is justified because you are saving them from an eternity in hell.”

On landing in Trinidad, I went to “prayers” held for a beloved Muslim aunt-in-law who died last week. My mother, Zia, who is the gentlest Muslim I know, who went to school in Pakistan, who has Hindu, Christian and Muslim friends, said of the prayers, “There were Sunni Muslims sitting alongside Ahmadiyyas, Hindus and Christians there. Everyone was respectful. The Muslim clerics spoke of love, peace, respect for elders, and protection for the weak, and kindness. From the Mahabharata, to the Bible and Quran, all religious texts make reference to war in the context of justice. Nowhere in the Qur’an is it written that children should be massacred.”

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur