Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Mob That Lynched Your Freedom

The word 'lynched' is one of the most ugly words. The way the letters are placed next to each other, the resulting sound even when you just think it and not say it out loud, and all its assigned and associated meanings – are worth a thousand cringes. It's astounding how one word can express the depth and strength of human cruelty.

Blasphemy is another word that makes me retreat and attack at the same time. Millions of people in the country, many documented belief systems. So many of those millions, in belief or disbelief of any system, are convinced that they are the only true ones. And the others must be punished.  And for some, the ultimate punishment deemed fit for being considered wrong is death - a public and painful death. The incitement and ensuing apathy of the state in condoning this chain of thought does not help. We are the descendants of monkeys after all.

What happened to Mashal Khan is not an isolated incident. It wasn't the first time and it certainly wont be the last. Thanks to technology, we can be a witness to his lynching (cringes).

Every single Pakistani, liberal or conservative, religious or not, should watch that video again. This time imagine yourself or your loved one, even your own child, being tortured in place of Mashal Khan. Dragged from the room, shot, thrown out of the window, kicked and beaten, stripped naked and completely broken.

It could very well be you. Look at your recent facebook posts. Maybe you wrote something in support of feminism, a religious minority or the LGBTQ community recently. Maybe you forgot to write PBUH when you mentioned the Prophet. Or maybe you simply offended someone by saying anything that does not conform to any of the 3000 thoughts per hour going through the conscious minds of 200 million people in the country. Every day you express your opinions, with purpose or without, and still go out and interact, still try to be who you are without hiding, you are a target. You are brave, like Mashal Khan was. But you may be lynched (cringe), like he was.

Should you run away like I did? Or should you simply conform in every possible way? Should you limit your social interactions and live in a fragile bubble? Or should you try to fight back and hope that you won't be killed, at least painfully? Each choice is tough, either for yourself or for the society that begs for change.

Putting the perpetrators of this particular crime in jail would simply not be enough. The hunger games in our pre-apocalyptic dystopia have become too strong. This tragedy would not be the last. There would be another incident like this. It could be you. It could be your children.

This is for all my friends who did not run away like I did and who do not hide. Who continue to be who they are and live in bravery every day. I wish you safety, I wish you change. And I salute your resilience.