Extremists out to silence voices of sanity: HRCP

Lahore, October 4: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed deep anguish at the assassination of noted religious scholar Dr Muhammad Farooq in Mardan and called it an escalation of the extremists’ plan to silence the voices that present the people an alternative to retrogressive interpretation of Islam.

In a statement released to the media on Monday, HRCP said, “Dr Farooq had achieved distinction by exposing the militants’ theory of jihad and had espoused the cause of women and minorities who are regularly being targeted by extremists. His assassination raises two questions; firstly, the government should have known that Dr Farooq’s work had made him a target of extremists’ anger and should have made adeqate security arrangments for him. Media reports of the murder suggest that security arrangments were conspiocious by their absence. The government may have to regret this lapse because such actions not only snuff out rare voices of sanity but also embolden the militants to prepetrate their reign of terror. Secondly, the murder points to a further escalation in militants’ activities, who had hitherto been targetting law enforcement personnel and their opponents among politicians whom they considered obstacles to their scheme. Now they have decided to silence the voices that present the Muslims of Pakistan an alternative to the extremists’ retrogressive interpretation of Islam. This amounts to a bid to suppress all attempts aimed at promoting a rational and liberal interpretation of religion. Therefore, what needs to be done includes not only increased protection for scholars who challenge the extremists’ thinking, but also increased and meaningful state initiatives to develop social forces capable of resisting the militants.”

Dr Mehdi Hasan

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