If one needs an example of how our nation’s psyche is subtly allowing extremism to flourish in ideological terms,we need look no further than Ms. Danielle Ali Riaz’s letter (April 30) entitled, ‘Impact of Sharia on women’. While claiming to be an, ‘extraordinarily independent person’ who opposes terrorism, Ms. Riaz goes on to lay down her rule of law, including the much-disputable issue of women covering their heads and the necessity of a male companion for any movement outdoors. I use the term much-disputable, because while i oppose Ms. Riaz’s concept of Pakistan, i do not outright condemn it, and would definitely never ask her to shut up and get out of the country for thinking and acting the way she does. However, she is very comfortable with marginalising the population and getting rid of them to, ‘go to live in England or the US etc’.
What Ms. Riaz is unwilling to accept is that there can be (and are) other Pakistanis who completely disagree with her, and (dare I say it?) some who would even argue that many values of the west are better than our own. Are they not Pakistani then Ms. Riaz? Such definitions are limited, to say the least – and at their very worst, they give cover and create grey areas where radical extremism can grow. My mother does not cover her head, would prefer not to cover her head and she is a Muslim. If the Taliban were to lash her for coming out in public as she has always done in this country, what would Ms. Riaz’s stance be then? Uncomfortably quiet? We as a nation need to be more aware of what our words are actually conveying, and more importantly, we should no longer be afraid of voicing our differences. Better late than never.
Atif Ali Khan’s letter (May 5) seems to have completely missed the point in its final line where it is stated: “Now that we see that we might have to readjust our ways and synchronise with the dictates of Islam, we are up in arms to ‘preserve our way of life’.” The main objection to Ms. Riaz’s letter arises (and I think the other writers will agree with me) over whether the Taliban’s representation of Islam is in any way legitimate, and not over whether Islam is the best way to live (that is a seperate debate). Atif Ali Khan either believes the Taliban-style edict of religion-under-compulsion-and-threats is the true nature of Islam and should be implemented, or he has misunderstood the criticism levelled against Ms. Riaz.