Destroy free speech and criminalize criticism of Islam is the Muslim theme at this session of the General Assembly. “Pakistani President blames the West,” from DW, September 26 (thanks to Kalb):
Asif Ali Zardari has denounced an anti-Islam film in his address to the UN General Assembly and called for an international ban on it. Analysts say that the Pakistani president’s demand is hypocritical.
On Tuesday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari began his General Assembly speech by denouncing the US-made anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” and asked world leaders to ban the controversial movie and other “hate material” against the Prophet of Islam.
The low-budget movie sparked violent protests in many Muslim countries. Apart from protests in the Middle East, Islamic parties in many South Asian countries held rallies to speak out against the video and the US government.
In Pakistan, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party’s government – led by President Zardari – announced an official holiday on Friday, September 21, to show solidarity with the Prophet of Islam and to protest against the film. At least 19 people were killed during these protests as violent mobs set public property on fire, also torching a church in the northern city of Mardan, and various US establishments.
“President Zardari’s comments about the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ were aimed more towards his own countrymen than the West,” Snehal Shingavi, a South Asia expert at the University of Texas in Austin, told DW in an interview. “By appearing to defend Islam, he [Zardari] tries to appease the Pakistanis who feel that the film was blasphemous.”
But political observers and rights organizations say that Pakistan’s own record against curbing hatred against the country’s religious and sectarian minorities is not so envious, and that President Zardari’s demand that the movie be banned worldwide is therefore hypocritical.
“By declaring a national holiday in support of the protests against the film, the PPP unleashed a wave of violence that included attacks on minorities … Zardari gave official cover to right-wing Islamic parties and made things much more difficult for minorities in Pakistan,” Shingavi said.
Human rights organizations point out that there is legal and cultural discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, which, in their opinion, is one the major causes of discrimination of Pakistani minority groups. They also say that Islamist groups propagate hate material against religious minorities on a regular basis and that Pakistani authorities do nothing to stop it.
But Ali K Chishti, a Karachi-based political analyst, said President Zardari’s demand was justified.
“I think there has to be an international law which stops the spread of such hateful material. The President of Pakistan was voicing the sentiments of all Muslims – not only Pakistanis,” he told DW….
Chisti must be a greasy Islamophobe. Everyone knows that only greasy Islamophobes think Islam is a monolith, such that anything at all can be predicated of “all Muslims.”
Zardari also spoke about his country’s role in the fight against terrorism at the UN. He said that his country had suffered enough in the “war on terror,” and that the international community had no right to ask Pakistan to do more.
USofficials [sic] have long accused Islamabad of backing various factions of the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. Many “Af-Pak” experts maintain that the Taliban are Islamabad’s favorites, and that the Pakistani military’s spy agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – uses them as a bargaining tool for its influence in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies these allegations.
The US accuses Islamabad of covertly supporting the militant Haqqani network
“No country and no people have suffered more in the epic struggle against terrorism than Pakistan,” Zardari insisted before the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, September 25. “To those who say we have not done enough, I say in all humility: Please do not insult the memory of our dead, and the pain of our living. Do not ask of my people what no one has ever asked of any other people,” he said….
What? Loyalty to the country that financially supports yours, and of which you are putatively an ally? Basic decency? What exactly is too much to ask?