Mob mentality


Another temple was burned down, this time in Larkana, by a mob that lost control over yet another fake blasphemy charge against a Hindu. Imagine being constantly scared and feeling vulnerable and alien in your own country, in a sea of people that have nothing but disdain for what you stand for. Imagine an eid, or any other day of festivity where you cannot celebrate for fear of being attacked by an ignorant mob over some trumped up charges that have nothing to do with you. This is how the religious minorities in Pakistan feel on a daily basis. The blasphemy laws are to blame once more, being used for all the wrong reasons to take advantage of the inferior status ascribed to being part of a religious minority.

How is an organized mob created anyway? In a mob, there is no responsibility, no reprisal for any atrocities committed. There are no faces. There is bravery in numbers. Pitchforks and fire is the only image that comes to mind. The mob does not need facts, only allegations. The mob functions on the basis of outlining an ‘us’ with an opposing ‘them’. Those that are left out are easier to dehumanize and subsequently attack, if needed.

The biggest problem with any democracy is that it can potentially establish a tyranny of the majority and oppress those that do not identify themselves with the biggest group. Our country though divided along many lines, still calls itself an Islamic nation. Everybody else, those that have different beliefs and even those who are perceived as deviating from the ‘norms’ (what these are is debatable) are second-class citizens. This is not the first incident, and nor will it be the last. When minorities are left completely unprotected by the government, the people are free to exploit them in any way they see fit.

The only way Pakistan can begin to improve the status of minorities is through repealing a law designed to oppress the freedom of expression. Can a law really stop people from committing blasphemy? There is no real way to assess when blasphemy has been committed. And a mob can never pronounce judgments, let alone on something this subjective. All religions inherently contradict each other. Those that believe that their religion is the one true religion should be secure in their own knowledge and should attempt to rise above anything they perceive as insulting. We are no longer in the dark ages, and a law made to facilitate elaborate witch hunts has no place in the modern world.

30 responses »

  1. It really is pitchforks and fire. Blasphemy laws, Islamic Nation and Democracy – we’re all a minority, one way or another.

  2. The sarcastic irony in your tone coupled with the rhetorical questions you have posed show just how absurd and hopeless the current situation in Pakistan is. An engaging argument.

  3. Our people just can’t comprehend the irreparable damages which mobs cause to the society. It’s an uncontrollable group of people and mixed with religion, it has hurt our society so much. How long will our minorities be fearful of their own people who have failed to be protect them?

  4. Love how you’ve added questions to the piece, and answered them yourself. A brilliant technique to keep the audience engaged, and push them to ponder over the question and answer it for themselves too. Well done, Zahaid. Never thought i’d read an article with such interest. 🙂

  5. Such a thought provoking argument. Who are we to speak against the larger forces that oppress us, when we ourselves provide little security to the minorities in our nation? There will always be those willing to go to all lengths to prove their religion is superior to yours. It is tragic that they’ll always find some, or many, to support their case.

  6. You’ve given me something to think about. This situation is horrible. Something must be done. This article is a start. #ZahaidFTW

  7. How ironic that the ‘Muslims’ of Pakistan made this country to escape feared persecution from a ‘Hindu’ majority but they fail to recognize themselves doing the same to other minorities.

  8. Your arguments are logical and reasonable, yes, but the people aren’t. That is all there is to it, really. Regardless, it is important that people like you continue to engage with people like them. Who knows? Maybe they’ll learn something. Also, really like how you’ve described the “mob” in the second paragraph. Great read.

    • Haha you do the same thing I do, so I think this comment had a lot to do with self-acclimation as well. :p Just kidding haha. I know what you mean. The counter-narrative is always necessary. Thanks!

  9. I love how you ended this. Although many people raise the questions you’ve raised here, rarely do they ever pose a solution. And you’ve stated something that the majority of this country is too scared or ignorant to state; the fact that the proof of being a civilised and rational people is our ability to rise above such ‘insults’. The concept of blasphemy should have no place in today’s world. If it insults you, grow up and get over it. Well done. 🙂

    • Thanks, but sadly I disagree. I have no solution either. The simplest thing would be to limit the amount of stupidity in society, but the lack of practicality in that makes this statement just as stupid as everything else. :p

  10. We truly need more articles like this stirring debate; it’s a crying shame that even a VERY constructive and civil argument can be target for senseless reprisal.
    Here’s hoping there are more like you willing to challenge a very spiteful status quo and that (even if they aren’t) you keep doing what you do. 🙂

    • Thanks! I doubt anyone is listening, scream as me might, against this injustice. All of it gets swept under the table sadly.

  11. This piece is brilliant. I’ve always pondered over and studied the blasphemy laws. Other than being blatantly unislamic, they’re also the foundation for negating the freedom of speech. Love how you brought up something so controversial and did justice to it!

    • Thanks. But justice is far from served. The only way that can happen is if we mange to repeal a law that makes a mockery of rationality and devalues human life.

  12. “There is no real way to assess when blasphemy has been committed. And a mob can never pronounce judgments, let alone on something this subjective. All religions inherently contradict each other.”

    Profound and well-thought-out! It is absolutely sickening to know that we live in a country where “mob justice” and “religious confidence” take precedence over the security of our brothers and sisters.

    • Thanks! But people love categorizing and finding differences between themselves and others to make themselves feel better. Unless that changes, nothing will.

  13. The irony of the whole situation is that the ‘religion of the mob’ explicitly says, “to you your religion, to me mine”. Funny how it’s conveniently ignored by these self proclaimed Islamic Power Rangers.

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