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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Pakistani moderates must make a stand

- The Washington Times - Friday, March 4, 2011

How many more proponents of justice have to lay down their lives before the Pakistani government takes action against the atrocities being committed in the name of protecting the honor of the Prophet Muhammad ( "Killing hits chance for change in blasphemy law," Geopolitics, Thursday)?

In less than two months, two prominent government officials have been gunned down in Pakistan simply because they opposed the country's blasphemy laws, which have targeted religious minorities, including Christians and members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The assassination Wednesday of Minister of Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti followed closely the Jan. 4 killing of Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab. Both politicians were assassinated by extremists because of the stance they took against the draconian blasphemy laws.

Nina Shea, commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in Washington, is correct in pointing out that the extremists "are winning the battle for the soul of Pakistan." The very law that has been formulated to protect the honor of the Prophet of Islam is, in fact, adulterating the true teachings of the religion. During his lifetime, the Prophet Muhammad was persecuted and abused by his opponents. However, there was never an occasion in which he or his companions ordered punishment for those persecutors. At the time of the conquest of Mecca, he easily could have called for the destruction of all those who openly abused him - yet he chose to display mercy toward them.

In America, we have heard people ask, "Where are the moderate Muslims?" Perhaps we should ask the same of Pakistan.

SHAHINA BASHIR

Germantown, Md.

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