Misuse of Religious Titles by Terrorists and Responsibility of Pakistani Media

imambargahBy Iftikhar Hussain Jazib

Pakistan is fighting fourth generation war as terrorist are traumatizing the whole nation by perpetrating attacks. They are also running an intense propaganda campaign to create confusions about necessity, legality and justification of war against terrorism in the public mind. Unfortunately, Pakistani media is not playing effective roll in countering terrorists propaganda rather engaged in negative sensations in post attack situations. The most regrettable aspect of our media is the use of revered religious titles for militant leaders which help them in connecting their propaganda with the religious sentiments of general public.

TTP does not have Islamic status and its commanders are hiding their criminality by using religious titles wrongly. The term ‘Taliban’ was popular in FATA and KPK and had positive attraction for general masses. The founder of TTP, Baitullah Mehsud and his successor Hakimullah Mehsud did not use a religious title and based their campaign on exploitation of public image of Afghan Taliban. The use of religious titles such as Maulana, Mullah, Hafiz, Qari and Mufti further help TTP commanders to connect their propaganda with religious emotions of the people. The newspaper columnists, newscasters, TV hosts and anchors need to use alternative titles for TTP commanders to deprive them from this positive world view.

            Religious titles are very respectable in Pakistan’s society and are used to honor local religious teachers, however misuse of these titles by the terrorist is misleading the general masses. Unfortunately, these prefixes propagated by terrorists are being used by media which glorify them in the public mind. Terrorists and extremists forces in Pakistan are fighting in the name of so called Jihad, whereas their practices are not in line with true Islamic teachings. They are always trying to give false justification for their brutal act by terming it permissible in Islam which reflects that they neither have basic knowledge of Islam nor they care for the Islamic virtues. These terrorists not only misinterpret Islam but also use religious titles for their vested interests. They have successfully exploited religious affiliation of innocent people and utilized them for their inhuman and brutal activities.

            Militants, who consider themselves as true followers of Islamic teachings, proved to be worst of their kind, highly insensitive towards humanity and vicious in nature. Involvement of terrorists in un-Islamic and immoral activities like drug trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, bank robbery, exploitation of women and children, suicide bombings, killings of innocent people attacks on Shrines, ruthless beheadings of innocent people are the crude evidences of terrorists’ un-Islamic practices. They are following the agenda of anti Pakistan/Islam forces with the aim to create fear and panic in the society. All eminent religious scholars and Grand Muftis have already rejected the deviant ideology of terrorists and declared that unjustified killing of innocent people is entirely prohibited in Islam. Killing of innocent people is forbidden in Islam as Holy Quran says ‘Killing of a human being is equivalent to killing of the entire human race’. Criminal activities of terrorists are needed to be suitably highlighted to refute their ideology and credibility.

Most of the militants’ leaders and fighters do not have basic religious education and even did not pay heed to learn from Ulemas, who had dedicated their whole lives in teaching and learning Islam. TTP hardly had such persons in its ranks, who had completed Dars-e-Nizami, the basic religious course taught at Deobandi Madressahs. This fact is enough to prove that they are not religious personalities and they must be denied religious titles by the media persons. TTP leaders were previously engaged in various business activities and started posing as religious persons afterwards. Current TTP Chief, Mullah Fazalullah is a matriculate and was working as a lift operator in Swat before becoming a militant. He is using the title ‘Mullah’ wrongly as he did not even complete his Madressah education. TTPJA leader, Abdul Wali alias Omer Khalid Khorasani is also a matriculate and he had worked as a blacksmith. He had not used a religious title so far, which speaks about his lack of Islamic education itself. Commander of Lashkar-e-Islam, Mangal Bagh had no Islamic education and worked as a bus conductor formerly. These facts make it clear that TTP does not have Islamic status and its commanders are hiding their criminality by using religious titles wrongly.

To counter faulty ideology of terrorists and to highlight misuse of religious titles by terrorists, there is a need to run a comprehensive awareness campaign on print, electronic and social media exposing immoral acts of terrorist outfits which can discredit them in public eyes. Titles like ‘Deshat Gard’ or ‘Khwarji’ should be used as suffix for militants instead of using religious titles and qualifications. Similarly, general public is unaware and resultantly non-participative in counter terrorism campaign due to the religious perception of militant leaders. Basic reason has been our inability to persuade common people to report/indicate terrorists in their surroundings, streets, relative / neighbor. Law enforcement agencies alone cannot do it. Participation of people has to be a basic ingredient of our approach and through their active participation menace of terrorism can be eliminated from the society. Media especially electronic can play a dominant role to educate general public to this end.

This campaign will be very effective as one of the counter radicalization measures, which will help in educating the society and youth on the actual personality traits of the terrorists and denial of local support to them.

The writer tweets@radiant_j_007

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