Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pakistan at it Again - University Competition to Honor bin Laden in Verse

You can't make stuff like this up - Punjab University - let that word sink in for a minute, is running a competition to honor bin Laden through the most peaceful of means - poetry. The AP wire story, carried in Stars and Stripes, gives good coverage of the tensions inherent in Pakistan.
"Whoever is America's friend is a traitor!" roared the head of the student group, Zubair Safdar, in an interview with The Associated Press.
His views were echoed by 19-year-old student Bismah Khan as she read one of the posters promoting the bin Laden contest. One of three topics for the essay section was: "Osama, a thorn piercing the hearts of infidels."

Concern is rising in Pakistan about the participation of well-educated Pakistanis in militant groups, rather than just poor students streaming out of radical Islamist schools in remote parts of the country.
The Pakistani-American man who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square last year, Faisal Shahzad, was well-educated and came from an affluent Pakistani family. He said he acted out of anger about U.S. attacks on Muslims overseas. Others have expressed frustration with Pakistan's alliance with the U.S.
A survey taken after bin Laden's death by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that 12 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of al-Qaida. But only 10 percent approve of the U.S. Navy SEAL operation that killed him May 2 not far from Islamabad. The raid humiliated Pakistan because the government was not told about it beforehand.
On campus, the radicals use freedom of speech to incite hatred and violence that has many impacts, not the least of which is to silence those who would speak out against them. Since President, Benazir Bhutto, was cut down for speaking against violence, a string of politicians have been silenced. If the crazies can reach top politicians, it would be a brave student who stands up to them on campus.

Reminds me of the concentration camp poem attributed to Friedrick Niemöller
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
 Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller



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