Nov 22, 2021
Pakistan Caves to the Militants
The Indian subcontinent
The violent protests that have wracked Pakistan in the last several months, and especially the last several weeks, continue their wind-down toward the conclusion in many ways foregone: an essentially complete victory for the militant Islamists. The unbanning of the extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan political party (TLP) was covered in the last edition of this brief, and the “negotiations” resulted in the removal of party leader Saad Rizvi from the terrorism list the week before last.
“Negotiations” receives scare quotes here because of the outcome of the proceedings. As Reuters reports, the major concession from TLP was an agreement with the Pakistani government that they would “shun the politics of violence.” Let us hope they pinky-promised.
A write-up from Dawn on these events, including their situation in the broader context of religious-political violence in Pakistan throughout recent history, is available to read here.
Also in the subcontinent: Sneha Parthibaraja, an Indian woman, became the first to be granted government identification papers that explicitly specify that she has no caste and no religion. Read about it here.
The parliament of Ghana is currently considering a bill that, if enacted, would make the act of existing as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person a crime. It would also tighten already-existing penalties against homosexual sex acts and introduce new ones, all aimed at snuffing out the phenomenon of LGBT+ Ghanaians as completely as possible, including conversion therapy as an enforcement mechanism.
Opponents of the bill accurately point out that it would be an egregious infringement on personal rights and liberties. Supporters, on the other hand, have fallen back on a tried and true rhetorical flourish: claiming that opposition to this bill, including from figures such as United Nations human rights experts, has been fomented by the West.
The bill’s failure, unfortunately, is far from certain.
In Kenya, meanwhile, three Islamist terrorists have escaped from a “maximum-security prison” near Nairobi. Read about that from the BBC here.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning a recent Polish law that outlaws abortion in virtually all cases. As the AP reports, this comes in the wake of the death of a woman who had been pregnant at 22 weeks after doctors refused to perform a life-saving abortion—since doing so would have been illegal under the new law. The resolution expresses “solidarity with Polish women and those who still continue to help them get abortions despite the restrictive law.”
We’ve said before and will say again: religious conservatism can wear many clothes, and while Islamism is far and away the most immediate affront to secular rights and values in the world today, ambitions toward Christian pseudo-theocracy are not dead.
Humanists International has released their most recent annual Freedom of Thought Report, finding that, just as last year and the year before that and on and on, the world is not a great place to be a secularist. Read their official press release here and peruse the report here, if you’re in the mood to be disheartened.