Valentine’s Day 2016

Happy Belated Valentines Day, everyone! Love is in the air and everyone. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Pakistan. I came across the following video on Facebook shared by the President of EXMNA yesterday when I logged in.

In the video shared above, Marvi Sirmed, a prominent columnist and human rights activist from Pakistan directly confronts Mufti Naeem, who is a Deobandi Islamic scholar and head of Jamia Binoria, an Islamic institute located in Karachi, Pakistan. Below is a translation of the video in English as provided by MoTheAtheist i.e., the President of EXMNA:

Marvi: I wish you a happy valentines day and will send you a Valentine’s Day balloon as well

Mufti : I will curse your balloon and your wishes.

Marvi: I understand, we all have only certain capabilities (implying that all the Mufti can do is condemn / curse)

Mufti: Valentine’s is against Islamic Shariah

Marvi: Balloons are not against Sharia? Flowers are not against Sharia? Love is not against Sharia?

Mufti: Is the 14th February the only day one can love?

Marvi: What problem do you have with the 14th?

Mufti: Leave the country, go to the US or UK, we’re muslims we do not do these things.

Marvi: This is my country and I will celebrate it right here. Happy Valentines to you and the religious students you teach. May god grant you a brain and a heart. May you stand up against terrorism (Jihadi) instead of love, stand up against those that are killing our citizens.

Marvi: Sharia only comes up when it comes to love, never Jihad

Host: Please this is a sensitive topic, let’s calm down!

Marvi: To be honest I have no desire to talk to you

Mufti: Then why aren’t you staying silent. Islamically you have NO right to be on video.

Mufti: This is the ISLAMIC republic of Pakistan:

Marvi: Of course I’m going to talk when you interfere and try to silence me.

Marvi: How do you have the gall to talk about Jews and Christians, the microphone you are using was invented by them, get rid of it as UnIslamic too? Take it off! The camera you’re sitting in front of was also invented by them!

Host: (getting desperate) Please let’s calm down!

Marvi: The phones you use made by them, the loud speaker you use (to preach religious intolerance) was invented by them. Quit using these (UnIslamic) things!

Mufti: This is about RELIGION!!

Marvi: Happy Valentine’s to you!! Again, Happy Valentine’s to you!!

It’s just sad how religious zealots like Mufti Naeem want to declare everything as UnIslamic and possibly send Pakistan back to stone age. They are insistent on declaring every Western celebration as unholy and demand the enforcement of strict, puritanical laws based on the literal interpretation of the Qur’an and Ahadith.

Voices like Marvi Sirmed are more than often silenced by religious militants in Pakistan. Marvi Sirmed has received threats from extremist groups several times in the past. In fact, in November 2012, unknown gunmen shot twice at her car and she narrowly escaped. As it is with incidents like these in Pakistan, her attackers remain unknown to this date and are still possibly at large.

Individuals like Marvi Sirmed are brave enough to face these challenges on a day to day basis and speak openly about the growing conservatism in Pakistan. Like Sabeen Mahmud, who was assassinated last year in April, and about which I had also blogged as well, Marvi Sirmed represents the progressive side of Pakistan that is willing to fight radical Islam.

I can only hope for her safety and wish her all the support and good luck in her continued efforts to educate people like Mufti Naeem. In the meantime, enjoy Valentine’s Day!