IBN Live and BBC News). While announcing the ban, the Culture Minister Ghulam Jamal said that Islam taught respect for all prophets and disrespecting any of them was to disrespect all of them.
Perhaps there was a lesson to be learnt: Muslim clerics had actually encouraged the Christian community to take a stand against the movie that had offended many Christians around the world (at least seven states in India had also banned the film). When the protest was launched, it received active support from Muslim clerics and hence the prominent Pakistani Christian leader Shahbaz Bhatti said that it would go a long way to ensuring sectarian harmony (see Atlas Forum).
This incident stands apart from many others because it is about action and not just talk, talk and more talk. Something happened - something got done.
That is what Pakistan needs to do now: it should offer alternatives through practice and not just preaching. Not only Muslims but many sensible people from all religions are upset about the way the forces of ridicule and darkness have been smashing the bastions of respect for more than a hundred years now. Can we not come up with laws that respect the freedom of expression and encourage it but at the same time also prevent abuse of that freedom for creating dissension and spreading hatred?
We are free. We have a country. We own it - all of us Pakistanis. In our country, we can make any law we want. Let's not wait for Western countries to show us what laws need to be made. Let's lead the world by initiating such beautiful legislation in our own country that other peoples in the world, even in Western countries, feel inclined to follow it.
The world needs such laws and the nation founded by a barrister should be the most well-equipped to take the lead. For that we shall need to understand the issue at hand: freedom of speech. As correctly pointed out by two young readers of the previous post, Free speech doesn't mean that you start abusing and humiliating others. The challenge is to translate this idea into a philosophy that can then be turned into law. At least in Pakistan, it can be done.
یہاں ہر ایک شخص کا بلند تر مقام ہو
مٹیں دلوں سے نفرتیں، سبھی کا احترام ہو
اِس احترام کے لیے ہماری جنگ ایک ہے
Note: The Urdu couplets mean, "Everyone should be venerated here, there should be no hatred in hearts and everybody respected - for the sake of that respect, our war is a common one."