by Salman Hameed (from the blog www.irtiqa-blog.com/)
[This is related to the blasphemy mess of Farooqi Girls High School].
The discussion in the blasphemy mess has now shifted to ‘who is to blame for blasphemy’. On the one hand, this is to be expected. Individuals are not only fighting for their lives but also the lives of their family members. Last Friday, the school administration put out a full page ad in the local newspaper placing the blame for any blasphemous material in the negligence of the teacher (who is in hiding). Now, the accused teacher has blamed the school administration. While this exchange of blame is understandable, what may get lost in this is our outrage towards the burning of the school on the flimsiest of accusations, and the larger problem of the blasphemy law. Ultimately, this was an unintentional mistake made by a student for his paper. This should have nothing to do with blasphemy. And certainly it should not be considered blasphemy if the student’s teacher or the school administrators did not catch the mistake. Heck – I’m grading papers at college level, and I know that things can easily pass-by when one has to grade a large number of papers. But of course, judging from recent examples of blasphemy accusations, it would be pointless to talk any sense or reason to the mob of men (and yes these are all men) or the clerics (yes, also all men) who are behind the incitement.
By the way, the complainant in this blasphemy case is the Vice Principal of a religious school, Jamia Kareemia Sadidia (or is it “Jamia Karimia Sadia”?), near the burnt-out Farooqi Girls High School. Does anyone know what kind of religious school is this and what is their stance on education for women?
In the mean time, here is an excerpt from the news item about the accused teacher blaming the school administration:
According to a letter available with Daily Times, Irfa Iftikhar, a class 6 teacher blamed for committing blasphemy, has alleged that her fellow senior teachers and school administration did not recheck content of a question paper prepared by one of her students.
The letter, distributed by a relative of Irfa at a press conference, states that three other teachers of English department, including the department head, were tasked with preparing examination papers.
It said the paper with blasphemous content was written by a student who could not figure out the book had a torn page and, therefore, “unintentionally” wrote wrong lines.
According to the letter, one of the relatives of Principal Asim Farooqi had rechecked the question paper and approved it with her signatures.
Read the full story here.
Salman is an astronomer and Associate Professor of Integrated Science & Humanities at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. Currently, he is working on understanding the rise of creationism in contemporary Islamic world and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion.