one stumbles upon some of the most intriguing sites while browsing the web, including this newspaper from pakistan, the express tribune (tribune.com.pk). datelined abbottabad -- where osama bin laden met the navy seals -- it tells of a 12-year-old christian girl who made a spelling error on an exam, and was quickly subject to persecution for blasphemy. strange stuff, to put it mildly:
Girl accused of blasphemy for a spelling error – The Express Tribune: "It may have been a mere misplaced dot that led to accusations of blasphemy against a Christian eighth-grader, whose miniscule error led to her expulsion from school and uproar amongst local religious leaders.of all the volatile nations out there, places where we would be justifiably concerned for the safety of ourselves and our allies, pakistan seems to stand head and shoulders above the rest. i'm sure there are many reasonable people there, people of good faith who wish to live their lives in peace, and allow others to do the same.
Faryal Bhatti, a student at the Sir Syed Girls High School in Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) colony Havelian, erroneously misspelt a word in an Urdu exam while answering a question on a poem written in praise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The word in question was ‘laanat’ instead of ‘naat’ – an easy error for a child to make, as the written versions of the words are similar.
According to the school administration and religious leaders who took great exception to the hapless student’s mistake, the error is ‘serious’ enough to fall within the realm of blasphemy, Saturday."
at the same time, it appears to be jam-packed with completely off-the-meter fanatics, who don't seem to inhabit the contemporary world at all -- having gotten stuck in a time warp and returned to the medieval period. it's frankly very scary to see in this garrison town (the school was attached to the "pakistan ordnance factories, after all), where presumably the military establishment is safeguarding the nation's nuclear arsenal to prevent it from falling into the hands of apocalyptic lunatics.
recall that the US has been doling out several billion dollars a year in aid to pakistan for the last decade -- and before that, throughout the 1980s during the afghans' war against the soviet union. aid that has coincided with the global war of terror is premised on pakistan's alliance with washington against the taliban, but actually has a more pedestrian explanation: our supply lines all run through pakistan, and without the government's consent, our military industrial partners can't move that $300/gal. gasoline to support the troops. there's no question that when we abuse the pakistanis we're spitting in our own faces.
so much for that unique relationship, which while fraying and on the ropes will endure if for no reason than bland necessity. it's possible, of course, that the CIA will contrive to install a new dictatorship, in which case the eventual blow-up will be delayed and much more destructive when it finally occurs.
while the religious fanaticism of the pakistani muslim fundies provides much fodder for criticism, and it seems outrageous to our highly refined cultural sensitivities, the united states is under identical pressures from the forces of reaction to modernity and free thinking. we are under relentless assault from tea party fanatics with the bible in one hand and 10 commandments in the other. mainstream GOP presidential aspirants openly disparage darwin and evolution, and place the parody of science called creationism on an equal footing in the school classroom.
as they watch the certitudes of their small-town world view under relentless challenge from secularism and the educated classes, they've circled the wagons and declared dark-skinned interlopers as the enemy -- who plot to destroy their way of life and the customs and comforts of white privilege.
these are people who routinely insist, while they are the dominant race, class and religious tradition to be beset by enemies on all sides whose lifestyles and beliefs are so threatening as to rate charges of blasphemy. this where the line between the taliban and the militant fundamentalist survivalist movements become indistinguishable.
what's sad is that so long as their militancy is in sync with the agenda of the oligarchy that controls the monetary and financial and corporate and military structures, they will be gladly indulged. if and when they finally become a nuisance, begin to assert some power or influence, they are expendable.