When the line that differentiates sin and crime disappears in a society, chaos ensues. And that is what is happening in Pakistan. Falling in love is no crime. But those who do, often pay the price in Pakistan; some with their lives. So is the possibility of your suffering in case you drink. lat me make it clear that the situation in India is also, thanks to rabid Hindutava, fast deteriorating, but it shall not be as bad as in Pakistan, and that simply because the civil society is not going to tolerate this nor shall the courts permit it.
Yousuf, the protagonist in the TV soap Mera Naam Yousuf Hai, falls in love with Zulaikha and is tortured by the police at the behest of Zulaikha’s father. The account is fictional, but the story is real for many who have been thrashed by the police or others for the cardinal sin (not crime) of falling in love.
The TV soap identifies two fundamental wrongs in most archetypal Muslim-majority societies: First, local customs are still the basis of many taboos in the society that are presented as sins. Falling in love is one example. Islam does not prohibit it, but the society treats it as sin. Second, not all sins are crimes, and it is not up to the police to interpret sins as crimes.
Earlier this week, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President, had asked the police to confine their activities to their specified roles, and not assume the clergy’s role of interpreting Islam. President Rouhani is concerned that the arbitrary interpretation of Islam and its enforcement by the police would lead to chaos. “If we tell them [the police] you are the seminary and you can also interpret Islam, there would be chaos,” he warned. President Rouhani’s attempt to limit the role of the police and vigilantes in Iran is nothing short of a sea change.
The police and the members of the Basij (volunteer religious police) in Iran often transcend their designated roles. They try to interpret and enforce Islam as they see fit. I witnessed this abuse of power firsthand, in 1992. Sitting in a park in Mashhad, I could hear the Basij using loudspeakers to publicly shame parents whose daughters’ hijab did not meet the Basij standards.
There is a Basij in every Muslim-majority country, albeit with a different name and scope. Pakistan does not have an official Basij, but the Jamaat-e-Islami, its student wing, and other similar religious outfits act as moral police and brutally force their religious biases onto others.
In January 2014, for instance, members of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba (IJT) tortured a male student for sitting next to a female student outside of the vice chancellor’s office. The IJT affiliates beat the male student and humiliated him further by forcing him to march through the campus. This happened in front of the campus security who did not try to protect the life and property of students. The security personnel were perhaps concerned for their own safety, or maybe they shared the moral inclining of the IJT vigilantes.
The victim later explained to a reporter that the IJT activists beat him because they believed male and female students should remain segregated at the Punjab University. And this was only because the IJT believes such co-mingling of men and women is prohibited in Islam.
Moral policing is partly a structural flaw. Such violent acts are common at most public-sector universities in Pakistan. However, it is not the same at private-sector universities, where male and female students study together. Why the difference between public and private sector universities, you may ask.
First, the private-sector universities, unlike the public-sector universities, do not have politically driven admission quotas that let academically undeserving students to enroll. This prevents the undeserving IJT sympathisers from enrolling in the private-sector universities.
Second, the private-sector universities expel students for violation of the student code of ethics. Public-sector universities failed to expel even those students who beat up professors.
Third, learning takes precedence over the public manifestation of one’s religious beliefs at the private sector universities.
If read carefully, it is obvious that the Iranian President is treading prudently on the path to add distance between organised religion and the nation state. He is highlighting the difference between explaining religious dictates and interpreting and enforcing them.
“All teachers in schools, universities and, of course, in the seminaries whose mission is to understand better and express religion,” he explained but warned “you cannot just tell anyone … (to) interpret” Islam.
A few days before this year’s Valentine’s Day, a couple of billboards began appearing in Karachi asking young people to say no to Valentine’s Day because it promoted obscenity and contradicted the teachings of Islam. The anti-Valentine’s Day campaign is the brainchild of the cultural wing of an organisation called Tanzeem-e-Islami (TI), and that is akin to India’s Shiv Sena. TI is a non-political Islamic organisation that was formed by Islamic scholar, Dr. Israr Ahmed, in 1957 when as a young member of the fundamentalist Jamat-i-Islami (JI) he resigned from the party after it had decided to take part in Pakistan’s mainstream politics.
The TI functioned as a conventional religious organisation sharing Dr. Israr’s commentaries on the Quran and Hadith with the few followers that it had gathered between 1957 and the late 1970s. However, TI’s following began to grow after General Ziaul Haq pulled off a reactionary military coup in July 1977. In 1981, the the state-owned Pakistan television channel, the PTV, was asked by Ziaul Haq himself to give Dr. Israr a weekly show. The show became one of the first in Pakistan in which an Islamic scholar would sit in front of an audience and deliver lectures on Islam.
The first season of the show mostly saw Dr. Israr delivering lectures on his understanding of the Quran, Hadith and the Shariah. But, alas, as can be expected from most famous religious personalities (of any faith), Dr. Israr too began to add moral and political dimensions to what were once strictly academic religious proclamations.
Since hijabs and burqas were not all that common among middle-class women at the time, in 1982 Dr. Israr approached his show’s producers and exhibited his irritation at seeing ‘uncovered women’ in the audiences that were selected for his TV lectures. What’s more his irritation in this respect also became the basis for Zia’s Ministry of Information to ask women newscasters, and actresses in TV plays to be ‘modestly dressed’, and with the least amount of make-up.
This was also the period when various women’s organisations were pouring out onto the streets of Lahore and Karachi to protest against what they thought were the Zia regime’s discriminatory and misogynistic policies and laws against women. But just when these women were being baton-charged by the cops, women newscasters on TV began appearing with dupattas on their heads and no make-up! A woman newscaster reading the news on PTV in 1982. It was around this time that the government asked all women newscasters to cover their heads with dupattas. In TV plays women stopped being shown in western dresses or without a dupatta. In fact, western dresses were only allowed to be worn by men and that too by those playing villainous roles.
The farce did not last long, but Dr. Israr was successful in getting his female audience wrap their dupattas tightly over and across their heads. In 1983, Dr. Israr began punctuating his lectures on Islam with his thoughts on what he believed was the need of the hour for Muslims around the world: A worldwide caliphate.
It is believed that Zia knew well about Dr. Israr’s ideas about the caliphate and gave permission to PTV to allow the scholar to relate his desire to see the enactment of a modern-day Islamic caliphate. The idea was to Zia’s liking because it not only gave a kind of religious justification to a dictatorship supposedly based on the dictates of Islam; it also eschewed and undermined any call for restoring liberal democracy in Pakistan.
Emboldened by the fact that he was being given space and a countrywide audience to listen to his ideas about the caliphate, what Dr. Israr did next would put even the wily, Machiavellian Islamist like Zia in a quagmire of sorts. After making his women audience to wrap their heads up with dupattas (hijabs were still a distant invention in Pakistan), he now wanted to see all women in Pakistan doing the same in public.
But since Zia’s Islamisation project was still relatively new, and Saudi and Iran funded Islamic outfits in Pakistan had yet to develop the kind of roots they did from the late 1980s onwards, the Zia regime could only play around with the convoluted idea of ‘female modesty’ on TV, and that too not without facing constant resistance.
As mentioned earlier, women organisations were protesting against Zia’s laws on the streets but a time came when some women employees of PTV also refused to follow the moral dictates of the regime. For example, after appearing for a few weeks without make-up, some women newscasters on PTV refused to read the then all-important propaganda package (the main 9’oclock news) called Khabarnama.
The news had begun to be read by two newscasters from 1980 onwards, a woman and a man. After appearing on the screen without make-up for a few weeks, PTV’s leading women newscasters eventually refused to read the news. For almost a week, the 9 o’clock news was presented by two men. Embarrassed by the episode, Zia’s Information Ministry advised him to tone down the policy. Zia did just that and the newscasters returned.
An Urdu newspaper quoted one of the women newscasters saying that they felt insulted by the policy because they were wise enough to understand what was right and what was wrong. She also went on to say that the government should not be interfering in women’s personal matters. Mahtab Rashidi was a learned and good humoured Sindhi woman who used to host a popular show on PTV called ‘Aap Ki Baat,’ in which she used to read and answer letters written by PTV viewers about various programs offered by the channel.
By 1983 she was the only woman on PTV who was hosting a show without covering her head with a dupatta. The Information Ministry kept asking the producers of the show to request Ms. Rashidi to follow the Ministry’s new duppatta-on-the-head policy, but to no avail. Rashidi’s laid-back style of hosting and humour had bagged a huge fan following that also included some members of the Information Ministry! Nevertheless, still angry for being made to retract its no make-up policy by the rebelling women newscasters, the Information Ministry finally decided to get a bit tough on Rashidi. ‘Who are they to tell me what is right and what is wrong?’ Rashdi was reported to have said about the Ministry. She said she was doing the show in normal, simple clothes and she was wearing the dupatta exactly where it was supposed to be worn. ‘How will wearing the dupatta over my head make me a better and more moralistic woman?’ She asked. ‘And why is this being dictated to me by men?’ Suggesting that the issue of women’s modesty was for the women to decide and not for finger-wagging males obsessed by how a woman should dress, she stormed out of the show. She was not to appear on PTV until after the demise of the Zia dictatorship in 1988.
Zia had been happy in the knowledge that Dr. Israr’s lectures on faith and the Caliphate were working to his advantage and in a way giving scholarly and even divine justification to his rapidly unfolding Islamisation project and his political and legislative manoeuvres (undertaken to ‘Islamise Pakistan’s politics and society’).
But during a period (early 1980s) when the dictatorship was facing stiff resistance from leftist and progressive student groups on campuses, and on the streets by the PPP-led nine-party alliance, the MRD, and by various women’s organisations, he asked PTV to start giving extensive coverage to all series being played by the Pakistan Cricket team. Under the captainship of the team’s new skipper, Imran Khan, the Pakistan team was performing extremely well and Zia wanted to use this to his advantage through PTV.
But shortly after Imran’s team had devastated the visiting Australian and Indian Test sides in late 1982 and early 1983, Dr. Israr was incensed when he heard a couple of young women in the audience of his weekly lecture on PTV talking about how Imran had taken 40 wickets in the 6-Test series against India (1983).
Once the audience settled down in the studio and TV cameras began rolling to record his lecture, he quickly talked through his usual meditations on the holy book and the Shariah, but then after pausing for a moment he diverged to announce that sports like cricket should be banned in Pakistan. ‘Cricket is making Pakistanis ignore their religious obligations,’ he said. The cameras kept on rolling. ‘I am convinced that cricket matches should not be shown on TV.’ The cameramen and the producer of the show were by now scratching their heads. What was Dr. Israr up to? The audience remained quiet. He then added: ‘Even after the showing of matches on TV is banned, only men should be allowed to go to the stadium to watch these matches.’
This particular episode was not aired on PTV. In fact, Dr. Israr suddenly vanished from the mini-screen. His fans began to phone in and ask PTV why Dr. Israr was not appearing on TV anymore. PTV devised a convoluted response: ‘Dr. Israr is not well but he will return to do his show as soon as he regains his health.’ Some three weeks later the Udru daily, Jang, broke the news that Dr. Israr was in good health and that it was what he had said during the recording of his weekly program that got him withdrawn from PTV. Jang quoted Dr. Israr repeating his demand of getting the showing of cricket matches banned on TV and that only men should be allowed to go and watch matches at the stadiums. However, this time he went a bit further: ‘Have you seen how cricket bowlers rub the ball when they are preparing to come into bowl?’
Dr. Israr said the bowlers ‘suggestively rub the ball’ on the flashy parts of their body (the backside) and across their groins. He specifically signalled out Imran Khan. ‘Our mothers, sisters and wives watch all this on TV and in the stadiums,’ Dr. Israr complained. He was of the view that a player like Imran Khan (who was considered to be a sex symbol and a ‘playboy’ around the cricketing world at the time), does the groin-rubbing routine in the most obscene manner and (thus) ‘corrupts the minds of young Pakistani women.’ Dr. Israr accused him of rubbing the cricket ball across his groin ‘in the most suggestive manner’ and ‘corrupting young women.’ He then went on to call upon the Zia regime to ban showing cricket matches on TV and the entry of women at cricket stadiums.
As mentioned, Zia’s Islamisation project and the proliferation of Islamic evangelical organisations in Pakistan in the early 1980s were still a relatively new and rootless phenomenon. At the same time Zia was facing a number of political and ideological challenges and resistance from large sections of the population, especially due to the many controversial ‘Islamic laws’ he was planning to unfold. Such challenges were being thrown up not only by secular political parties but also by organisations looking after the interests of the Shia Muslim sect and the then largely moderate Barelvi Sunni sect, both of whom had become alarmed by the way Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich gulf monarchies had begun to establish mosques and seminaries.
Zia did not respond to Dr. Israr’s demands. But being an admirer of the volatile Islamic scholar, he advised his Information Ministry to ask Dr. Israr to continue doing his TV program, but stick to talking about Shariah and the Caliphate and leave the cricket commentary to famous cricket experts and commentators of the time, such as Iftikhar Ahmed, Chisty Mujahid, Omar Kureshi and Muneer Hussain.
So it wasn’t that PTV chucked out Dr. Israr. Dr. Israr huffed and puffed his way out himself. He had insisted that his talk on how cricket was corrupting women be allowed to air on TV. But when PTV chopped that portion of his lecture out, he refused to do the show anymore. Dr. Israr would only rarely appear on TV after this. But he had already bagged a sizable following that grew even more when Zia’s Islamisation project finally began to kick-in from the late 1980s onwards and especially after the mid-1990s when a number of Islamic evangelical organisations emerged and successfully competed to bag large urban middle-class followers.
In the late 1990s during the rapid proliferation of conservative evangelical outfits in Pakistan that were all supplementing the growing interest in religious rituals and thought among the urban middle-classes, TI began to evolve a cultural wing of sorts as well.
Also, and just like many other Islamic evangelical organisations in the country, TI’s ‘cultural’ initiatives have squarely focused on issues of morality, or rather female morality. The liberal sections of the media and population have often criticised many of these organisations of navel-gazing about trivial issues, and spending millions of Rupees on largely imagined and inconsequential moral issues in a country being haunted by religious extremism, sectarian violence, terrorism, rising rates of crime and unemployment, misgovernment and corruption..’
One of the books authored by Dr. Israr that discusses his concept of the modern-day caliphate. Many of Dr. Israr’s detractors have blamed him for trivialising his own work and image. They believe that unlike Islamic scholars like Javed Ghamdi or Islamic thinkers like Muhammad Iqbal, Dr. Israr, in spite of being a highly learned man, couldn’t control his ‘mullah instincts.’ Some women organisations accused him of being a misogynist. One member of such an organisation told me: ‘I laugh whenever I see these nice, white and polite billboards asking people to say no to Valentine’s Day. I laugh because they are being financed and put up by an organisation that was formed by Dr. Israr.’
In 2006 (during the Musarraf dictatorship), the government held a large ‘mixed marathon’ in Lahore that was open to both men and women. Men and women from some European and African countries also participated in the marathon. The Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the alliance of a right-wing religious parties responded to the ‘threat’ by holding rallies against the marathon. One of these rallies took place outside the Karachi Press Club. The rally was also joined by Dr. Israr and some of his supporters. One of journalists covering the rally was a young woman with a camera and in a sleeveless top. She tried to approach Dr. Israr for a comment but he refused to talk to her. She persisted and he finally turned his attention to the young journalist. But not before telling a colleague of his: ‘Dekho! West nein iss haramzadi* ka huliya hi badal diya hai!’ (Look! The west has totally changed the look of this obnoxious woman!’(*Haramzadi also means a woman born out of wedlock). So yes, do say no to Valentine’s Day. Otherwise you know what you are.
Consuming pork is sinful and forbidden in Islam. However, Islamic law does not prescribe whipping or incarceration to those who consume pork. The religious doctrine may prohibit certain behaviours and consider them sins. This does not make those acts a crime. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken up the task of determining if the physical punishment prescribed for the use of alcohol under the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd) Order of 1979 is Islamic. Earlier, the Federal Sharia Court declared that the current punishment for consuming alcohol is un-Islamic. A five-member bench of the Superior Court will hear the government’s appeal against the FSC’s verdict. This landmark case will open the much-needed debate on the difference between sin and crime in Pakistan.
Since the mid-seventies, Muslims across the globe have faced violent political movements that used religion to further their political causes. Such movements have emerged as revolutions (Iran), military coups (Pakistan), and rebellions (Egypt), and ultimately radicalised the respective societies. The perpetrators behind these political movements used Islamisation as the smokescreen to advance their political agendas. Harsh punishments were introduced into the legal systems, using religion as justification.
A systematic review of all these politicised legal frameworks is now in order. The Law should deal only with crime and leave sin as a matter between man and his Maker.
Alcohol consumption is a crime in Pakistan and several other Muslim countries. The Pakistan penal code, under the Prohibition (Enforcement of Had) Order of 1979, awards 80 lashes to those convicted of consuming alcohol. This raises several concerns. Muslim jurists and theologians document sufficient evidence to confirm alcohol consumption, like usury or pork, is forbidden. However, the evidence to suggest that alcohol consumption is a punishable crime is not without controversy. A consensus (Ijma) on how to deal with alcohol has eluded Muslim jurists for more than a millennium.
Under the Islamic law, the definition of a crime and its punishment originate either as Hadd (defined explicitly in Quran or the Sunnah) or as Tazeer, which are discretionary punishments awarded by the jurist (Qazi). The former military dictator, late General Ziaul Haq, set out to revise the legal frameworks in Pakistan. He was motivated to enforce his personal views about religion on the rest of the society. His regime introduced laws that blurred the line between sin and crime. He criminalised certain behaviours that for centuries, had remained outside the domain of legal frameworks.
While alcohol prohibition was initiated by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, it was General Zia’s regime which declared alcohol consumption a crime punishable by 80 lashes. The dictator willfully and deliberately committed high treason by suspending the Constitution of Pakistan. It served his interests to criminalise the rest of the society so that he may enjoy immunity from high treason, which he continued to commit for 11 years until his death in 1988.
The 40/80 dilemma : At present, consuming alcohol is punishable by 80 lashes in Pakistan. The popular discourse and the commonly held belief in Pakistan is that this punishment is based on religious injunctions, which enjoy consensus (Ijma). This may not be true. These punishments are more in line with the Hanbali school of thought, which is followed in Saudi Arabia. General Zia was inspired by the Saudis and hence his legal interventions bear a strong resemblance to the Saudi/Hanbali legal system.
The Quran addresses alcohol consumption at five different instances. In certain verses, the Quran prohibits alcohol (khamr) consumption. There is, however, the fact that Quran does not prescribe a penalty for consuming alcohol. The only reference for such a punishment during the life of the Holy Prophet is a Hadith by Anas Bin Malik, who recalled that the Prophet prescribed 40 lashes for someone accused of consuming alcohol. The 40 stripes were administered with two palm branches. Still, many jurists do not consider this reference a strong precedent to treat alcohol consumption under Hudood. They believe it falls under discretionary punishments (Ta’azir).
Historians have documented the controversy of 40 or 80 lashes that lasted for some time. Even today, the Maliki, Hanbali, and Hanafi schools of thought consider 80 lashes as the punishment, whereas the Shafi’is consider 40 lashes. Since the Islamic legal traditions did not provide for formal prosecutors, investigators, and other officials needed to investigate an allegation; the Qazi exercised significant discretion in settling disputes.
This raises certain interesting concerns related to prosecuting those accused of consuming alcohol. Given the paucity of reliable examples from the Sunnah regarding alcohol consumption, Muslim jurists developed much of the legal frameworks centuries later. For instance, what constitutes as proof for alcohol consumption? If someone’s mouth smelled of alcohol, Imam Malik and Imam Hanbal considered it sufficient proof of alcohol consumption. Imam Shafi’i and Imam Abu Hanifa, on the other hand, considered this insufficient because of other factors that may be making the mouth smell of alcohol.
Then there is the question of possession of alcohol. Is it a crime to possess alcohol? Some Muslim countries consider it so and award physical punishment for possession. Imam Abu Hanifa had an interesting take on this matter. He argued that if a person were to be punished for possession of alcohol, they might as well be punished for fornication in light of possessing sex organs.
Is it 40 or 80 lashes? Can one substitute palm branches with a can or leather whips? What constitutes as proof for consumption? These are not trivial matters. But the Hudood laws in Pakistan paid no attention to these details.
The controversy is not about prohibition, but about how to enforce it. The Quran is silent on this matter and the Hadith does not cover the matter in sufficient detail. This makes a strong case of saying that alcohol consumption may not be dealt under Hudood, because no fixed punishments have been prescribed in either the Quran or the Sunnah.
What should Pakistan do?
The purpose of this piece is not to advocate abolishing all regulations regarding the sale and consumption of alcohol. Even western countries, where consuming alcohol is legal, the sale and consumption of alcohol is strictly regulated. In Canada, serving alcohol at public places without a permit carries a hefty fine. Driving under the influence of alcohol carries severe penalties, including fines up to $5,000 and six months of imprisonment. In the United States, it is illegal to serve alcohol to persons under 21 years of age.
It is also not the purpose of this piece to downplay the harmful impacts of alcohol consumption on a society. In 2012, 10,322 people were killed in traffic accidents caused by alcohol-impaired individuals in the United States alone. This accounts for almost one in three traffic-related deaths in the United States, where the police arrested over 1.2 million drivers in 2010 for operating vehicles under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Yhe British Medical Association revealed that alcohol was a factor in 60-70 per cent of homicides, 75 per cent of stabbings, and 50 per cent of fights and domestic assaults.
The purpose of this article is to raise awareness about the legal and historic constructs that should inform prohibition laws in Pakistan. The 1979 Hudood Ordinance made alcohol consumption a crime. That was not the case before. The result is that low-income consumers are forced to consume inexpensive harmful moonshine while the well-off freely obtain imported alcohol.
The consumption of alcohol in Pakistan and its abuse has not declined since prohibition, though given the substitution of commercially produced alcohol with moonshine, incidents of alcohol-poisoning did rise significantly. At the same time, the Hudood laws convicted mostly low-income individuals who lacked the means to mount a legal defense. Such discrimination against the poor can be addressed if alcohol consumption is regulated rather than criminalised.
When the line that differentiates sin and crime disappears in a society, chaos ensues. Examples of this are common in Pakistan. Mobs of believers attack with impunity those who did not fast during Ramazan. In fact, innocent people have been murdered by enraged mobs because some believed Ramazan to be over a day sooner than the rest.Nothing damages pluralism in a state more than a statute, which attempts to impose the majority’s ritual values while impinging upon fundamental rights of a minority. The Ehtram-e-Ramazan Ordinance of 1981 achieves exactly that. The Ordinance bars any person, who is ‘under obligation to fast’, from eating, drinking or smoking in public places during the fasting hours of Ramazan. Similarly in those hours, restaurants and hotels are not allowed to serve food to such persons. Anyone found in contravention of this Ordinance can face maximum imprisonment of three months. Its recent implementation resulted in 25 arrests only in Faisalabad.
After three decades since Zia-ul-Haq promulgated this Ordinance, the law still has many takers. Any government will think twice before scrapping this Ordinance as doing so will invite the irk of conservative elements. The law itself is ambiguous and clashes with other clauses of our constitution. No wonder the dictator felt the need to protect the Ordinance with this clause: “The provisions of this Ordinance shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.”
The argument that the law’s primary purpose is to maintain sanctity of the Holy month has no ground to stand on. The Ordinance clearly deals with only people who are ‘under obligation to fast’. Legally speaking, non-Muslims or Muslims who are not under obligation can still eat in public. But then again who wears the faith on sleeve in public? Or is it something marked on the foreheads? As a result, the minority is susceptible to this law as well.
Yet, many still continue to live in delusion – believing that implementation of such laws will protect the faith from our own indulgences; or somehow the ‘spirit of Ramazan’ is being enforced providing us with some semblance of living in an ‘Islamic State’. It is supposed to give respite to the collective conscience that the mores and norms of majority are being translated into laws.
Forget the fact that a sick man, who of course carries no certificate waiving his ‘obligation’, going on work away from home, cannot eat in public places. Forget the fact that the spirit of Ramazan is endangered by street-side Dhabhas where the working class eats and not by the flurry of food commercials on the TV screens. Forget the fact that the restaurants are now closed for all – for under ‘obligation’ ones and for others alike. After all, according to article 20 of the constitution: “In respect of access to places of public entertainment or resort not intended for religious purposes only, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth.”
If the real purpose of the Ordinance was to force the Muslims to fast, then there have been many similar experiments from Zia’s era to know the futility of it. That is why some rituals, values and a particular way of life are meant to be ‘facilitated’ and not ‘imposed’. It is primarily a question of letting each and every citizen of this country exercise his basic right to consume food/drinks whenever, wherever he wants to. It is ridiculous to think that majority would take away this basic fundamental right in order to address its sensitivities.
Imagine if the same vigilante justice becomes the norm and people are beaten because they did not pray at a mosque or the mosque approved by the vigilantes. In fact, this is already taking place in the lands controlled by Muslim militias in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s former prime minister, articulated the need to distinguish crime and sin: “What is considered sinful in one of the great religions to which citizens belong isn’t necessarily sinful in the others. [The] Criminal law therefore cannot be based on the notion of sin; it is crimes that it must define,” he eloquently argued.Years later, similar voices are emerging from the Muslim world; we need to hear more of the same.