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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ramzan Diaries 2: Pre-Dusk Food Can be hazardous for Health

Very recently I came across a bit of news in the local media, I will not disagree that it was not surprising to see such events taking place in this country. Even in the absence of surprise such stories in the news are unpleasant to read. I am referring to the incidents that have recently happened where law enforcement has taken advantage of their powers and caused some citizens some discomfort. The incidents both of which happened in the capital city Islamabad relate to individuals eating during the day within the holy month of Ramzan, such incidents are a cause for concern for those of us elsewhere also.

In the case of the first incident, a couple of youngsters were sipping a beverage in the privacy of their car somewhere along the Margalla Hills, when a few police officers came and harassed the young men in question. The report even made claims of the young men experiencing some minor form of police brutality, having personally experienced police brutality in Pakistan, I find it very believable when I hear news concerning such police behavior. In the other incident, a few high end establishments frequented by Islamabad's elite and the large foreign population living in Islamabad were on the receiving end of a police raid, where the staff, customers and restaurant management were harassed by the police for not respecting the holy month of Ramzan and for not following legal protocol which the police comes under some Ramzan ordinance act in Pakistan. The police in this situation even stated that they were not willing extend leniancy to foreigners also who must respect Ramzan.

I can not even begin to start on just how ridiculous and ludicrous all this. Either these laws are in place to please the religious right or give legal power to the ever growing number of religiously sensitive and intolerant people in Pakistan. The religiously observant or the religiously sensitive it seems love forcing religion down everyone's throats and want others to follow the same exact life style choice as them. I have previously blogged about this that religious people want us to be like them, but now I am starting to believe in addition to all this, they see non observant or non practicing Muslims as the idea tool or the perfect excuse for blowing some steam. Whoever is familiar with human behavior will be able to make sense of the fact that persecution, bullying and harassment of others especially those seen as relatively weaker or inferior gives the initiator a feeling of empowerment, and everybody loves that good feeling of empowerment. This Wahabi influenced religious sensitivity backed by legal action makes others, Non Muslims as well as practicing Muslims soft targets.

The Ramzan ordinance and other religiously influenced laws have been around since the time of Zia Ul Haq, the military dictator responsible for the bizarre Islamization of the country. This process has caused significant violation of personal human rights and it has created the perfect excuse to harass and exploit others. Having lived in Pakistan, I too am no stranger to religious harassment, I have experienced everything from direct mockery and abuse for not being observant, to social discrimination, public humiliation, open cursing to fear inducement (through the sin I am apparently committing by not being religious) and even death threats from a guy who got outraged at the idea of me not being a supporter of the Burqa. At this point it seems there is no foreseeable solution in the fight against the religiously sensitive types who feel they have an open  license to judge others based on their morality and treat them as they please.

Seeing how sensitive and intolerant people are becoming, today for about 5 minutes I too was frightened as I was not fasting due to health reasons and after having starved myself the whole day I gave into hunger and sat down for a quick meal. For a while I was reluctant to have that meal which my body needed so badly, for a few minutes I was frightened to eat in public, I was terrified at the prospect of being harassed or worse being reported for eating in public because some religiously sensitive nut job thinks by eating in day light in Ramzan I am committing some sort of act of blasphemy. For a few minutes, before I made the decision to eat, I scanned my surroundings to see if there are other souls out there who are braving the intolerant sensitivity of our urban society and eating a bite or grabbing a drink. When I analyzed the premises and figured out I would not be the only one on the premises making this move, the first thought that came to my mind is should I get an upsize?

1 comment:

  1. Its always been an intolerant society (elite and other classes) for various reasons.