Pakistan

The Satanic Verses thirty years on

Author

Matthew Thompson

It is thirty years since the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, partly based on the life of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sparked protests across the Muslim world, with riots in India and Pakistan in which dozens of Rushdie's fellow Muslims were shot dead, book burnings on the streets of Britain, and ultimately an Iranian death sentence which sent its author into hiding under armed police guard.

Satanic Verses, thirty years on

Author

Matt Cooper

Last month saw the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie’s sprawling novel defies summary: interlinking stories meld scurrilous fantasies, dark humour and cutting political satire directed not only at Islam, but British racism and Indian immigrants’ attempts to adapt. It is an honest attempt to deal with the warping pressures of racism, religion and cultural dislocation.

Pakistan: Khan is no alternative

Author

Sacha Ismail

Pakistan can be added to the list of countries whose politics have been dramatically shaken up in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The Movement for Justice party — PTI from the initials of its Urdu name – led by former cricketer and multi-millionaire Imran Khan, got 0.8 percent of the vote in 2002, boycotted the elections in 2008 and rose to 16.9% in 2013. This time it got 31.9% and a near majority in the national assembly, with Khan looking set to become prime minister.

A discussion with Pakistani socialists

Author

Martin Thomas

In December, Farooq Tariq, a leader of the Awami Workers’ Party in Pakistan, visited London, and during his visit talked with activists from Workers’ Liberty. Martin Thomas reports.


We started by saying we appreciated the strong socialist line he had taken against Islamic-fundamentalist politics in his speeches during his visit, but questioning the uncritical praise for Fidel Castro in AWP statements after Castro’s death on 25 November. Farooq replied straightforwardly that it was an AWP decision to be uncritical of Castro and Cuba. For that decision, he gave two reasons.

Kashmir repression boosts sectarianism

Author

Will Sefton

On 8 July 2016, a young Kashmiri commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) was killed by the Indian Army. The killing of Burhan Wani has become a symbol of Indian repression in Kashmir, the major Muslim-majority area kept by India in the 1947 India-Pakistan partition.

The HM receives much of its support from the Pakistan government and has strong links to the Pakistani secret service ISI and the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. Unlike the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, HM is for Kashmiri secession to Pakistan and promotes the further Islamisation of Kashmir.

Abolish the death penalty!

Saudi Arabia has executed 99 people during 2016, more than at the same point last year.

Crimes punishable by beheading, stoning or firing squad in Saudi include blasphemy, drug offences, adultery, murder, and “false prophecy.”

Excluding China – whose regime keeps the number of state killings a close secret – 90% of known executions during 2015 were carried out by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

A fighter for freedom

When it was revealed on 11 October that Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl that captured the world’s imagination after being shot by a Taliban rifleman, was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it came as a relief.

Malala no doubt deserved it more than any other person in the world, but to tarnish her name by giving her the same prize given to such renowned peacemakers as Henry Kissinger and Menachem Begin would have been a disservice to everything she had stood for.

Capitalism: a murderous system

At least 314 garment workers burned or suffocated to death in two factory fires in Pakistan on 12 September.

Twenty-five people died in a shoe factory in the city of Lahore, when chemicals caught alight; 289 died in a garment factory in Karachi.

In the Karachi fire, workers were trapped inside the burning building because exits had been locked and they could not open security grilles at the windows.

Pakistan: abolish the blasphemy law!

A young Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, has been arrested and her family placed under protective custody after a Muslim mob in a poor part of Islamabad threatened to set her alight for allegedly burning pages of the Koran.

International news in brief

Islamist parties have taken to the streets to oppose the ratification of a law which would penalise domestic violence in Pakistan.

Women’s rights campaigners confronted the bigots outside parliament last week.

The Islamists’ arguments against the legislation include: preventing domestic violence is “Western”; and that the Bill is a copy of Indian legislation.

A spokesperson for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl said, “We will not let these senseless women, who depend on American dollars, to work against the Constitution and Islamic Shariah,”

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