Human rights activists in Pakistan are protesting theocracy in their own way. This takes real courage, because the mosque they're protesting is one whose theocracy is of the stripe that encourages the killing of infidels. It's called Lal Masjid, and the students at the madrassas affiliated with it have lately taken to the streets to threaten shopkeepers who sell goods contrary to their version of Islam. They go up to cars at intersections and tell the drivers to shut their music off (and if they're women, to quit driving); and the burka-clad devotees of the female madrassa kidnapped a woman they accused of running a brothel.
The Lal Masjid is within walking distance of Pervez Musharraf's presidential palace. The preacher there, one Maulana Abdul Aziz, is setting up sharia courts and threatening suicide attacks if anybody messes with him. He has decreed that the government has one month to close brothels and all stores sellling CDs or DVDs. At a recent rally, his students burned obscene Western material, such as HOME ALONE 4 and FREE WILLY. The cleric and his brother, Maulana Ghazi, have openly called for Musharraf's murder.
And hundreds of people in Islamabad came out to protest against them.
We tend to praise all kinds of stupid things as bravery -- going on talk shows and weeping copiously will get you called "brave" in some circles -- but going out to protest against real thugs who will really kidnap or really kill you? Folks, *that is what bravery looks like.* I have immense respect for those protestors, and I hope like hell their side wins, because the alternative is horrifying.
So my blog against theocracy is going out to those brave protestors in Islamabad who are standing up for human rights and against theocracy. Not what the folks organizing the thing are going for, obviously. But somehow I don't think they'll mind.