TLP Protests and Way Ahead?

Blasphemy for the follower of any faith cannot be tolerable. Be it a Christian, Hindu, or Sikh, no one can bear the insult of his/her gods or other reverential religious personalities. It is true for Muslims also who prioritize their faith and consider the Love of beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as an indispensable part of it. It is well-known fact that Muslims do not prefer pictures of their saints and Prophet to be drawn or painted even if connoisseur is employed for the purpose. And can never think of cartoons. Any such attempt is seen as blasphemous and is bound to face backlash from Muslims as we witnessed in recent France cartoon row.

Pakistan has been at the vociferous about this issue. Even the government registered its dissent on different international forums against it. However, it triggered mass protests in Pakistan. The departure of the firebrand leader of TLP Allama Khadim Hussain Rizvi contributed to the cessation of protests. However, governments made some efforts through negotiations and agreements that calmed down the dissenters. One of the main demands of TLP was the expulsion of the French ambassador that the government accepted but asked for some time.

The arrest of Saad Hussain Rizvi, son and successor of Khadim Hussain Rizvi‘s arrest after he threatened to start agitation for addressing their demand, sparked the protests again and the government without wasting any time announced its intentions to ban the organization.

Blasphemy of Prophet (SAW) is intolerable to every Muslim. No Muslim can be a mute spectator to such a happening. It is unexpected that Muslims would ignore the insult of their Prophet and Islam but there must be a proper way to express resentment and acceptable strategy, which would stop such happenings without affecting us negatively.

TLP is demanding that the French ambassador be sent home. The move that is not simple as we think. Has anyone TLP thought what will happen if French government expels lakhs of Muslims inhabiting there in reaction. If God forbid, the government of France makes any such move, which country would offer shelter to deportees. If the French administration decides to close thousands of mosques existing in France, how would French Muslims tackle it and how would worthy leaders of TLP react then. Moreover, can TLP, its leaders, and workers assure people that after the government of Pakistan expels the French envoy, French would not engage in blasphemy again. No one can say that with assurance. In fact, there are chances that blasphemous attempts may spike, as Emmanuel Marcon made his will already clear by saying ‘Blasphemy is no crime’. Last but not least, it will disturb the foreign relations of Pakistan. People need to understand France has a role in almost every international forum and of course, all other countries will support France and not Pakistan, in this way Pakistan could face global isolation. That can have serious repercussions. So, the TLP’s demand is completely flawed. It is impractical for the government of any country to take such blind steps especially when the country would be struggling on various fronts. However, the government too is blamable and cannot pretend to be innocent now. They need to answer the question, why it agreed to this demand in the first place, which is impracticable.

Another and main problem that discredits TLP is the violence associated with their protests. Several videos surfaced online that highlights grim law and order situations. Video that appeared on social media shows people brutally assaulting security persons with sticks. Another security personnel could be heard pleading with TLP workers to stop the man from beating him. Frenzied mobs carried such assaults at many places throughout Pakistan. Bonfires of vehicles, shops, etc were conducted in many places besides blocking roads that added to sufferings of already suffered public. In these violent protests, around 6 people lost their lives. Can any true-lover of Beloved Muhammad justify it? Who killed and who were killed? This question prompts us to hang our heads in shame. What message we give out through these acts. Is Islam a peaceful religion? No!. Such incidents bring bad name to the entire Muslim community.TLP protesters may not be involved in the violence. Anti-social elements may have infiltrated the peaceful protest march but TLP leadership cannot escape criticism. They would be blamed because it is their protest and they are responsible for everything that happens. Thus, the defenders of Islam and the reputation of the Beloved Prophet (SAW) need to contemplate how they are benefitting Islam by resorting to violence or by giving others an occasion to wreak havoc.
Associates of TLP and supporters of these rageous protests need to broaden their horizons of thinking and see how the world is noting their action. For instance, the Indian online portal Opindia ran a news item titled “Islamism is sinking the boat of Pakistan.” According to this media platform, ‘Islam’ is harming Pakistan and credit goes to these extremist Muslims for creating this kind understanding about religion of peace.

Allowing any group to terrorize people, damage public property, and disturb the peace is a bad idea. No democracy and government can like it. Also, democracy and the democratic government lose credibility if it succumbs to pressure tactics of a particular party that is not representative of all and which adopts the approach that could put the interests of the state at stake. Thus, banning the TLP seems to be on cards. However, imposing a ban on TLP is not the solution. It has been experienced that banning an organization has led to complications. Banning just brings about change in name because banned organizations later operate under different names with no change in their ideology. Also, it has been found these banned groups play into the hands of opponents to harm the state. The option for the government is to start a dialogue with TLP and involve all the credible religious scholars in the process for the larger good.

Additionally, TLP leaders need to rethink and overhaul their strategy. Peaceful protest is their legal right. They can go for it and show the world that we disapprove of any kind of blasphemy. They need to deliberate about what they are asking for. They need to look into the pros and cons of their demand and the plan of action they are following. And, the best alternative for them is to prove their mettle in elections to be in the row of policymakers and to fight this case democratically. After having recognizable numbers in an election they may get an opportunity to participate in globally recognized platforms to create impact otherwise, they just creating a mess and destabilizing the country that badly needs stability.


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