Hate speech III – by Fasi Zaka (The News)
Posted by zaidonists on March 26, 2010
Commentary: In this superb article published in The News, Fasi Zaka hits ZH where it hurts the most. The author has exposed various flaws in ZH’s approach and the reasons why his popularity has taken a downhill direction recently. Fasi Zaka explains with examples the biased and unfair methods of this so-called defence analyst. Last but not the least, Fasi Zaka shows his concern that although ZH is facing a lot of criticism due to his relations with Yousaf Kazzab, but so far very few have questioned the poison of hatred and intolerance spread by ZH.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
By Fasi Zaka
Zaid Hamid, the self-proclaimed ‘defence analyst’ and a ‘scholar’ with innumerable other self-bestowed platitudes, has suffered from a number of humiliating setbacks recently. I wrote about this purveyor of hate speech, militarism and spontaneous fiction (conspiracy theories) nearly a year and a half ago, criticising him for hate-mongering and half-truths.
In retaliation, he sent out a mass email claiming that I was critiquing him at the behest of international Zionists and bankers, getting me threats from his acolytes and followers. No longer the darling of TV evangelism, today he has been put down several pegs, rendering him temporarily ineffective.
He was run out of Islamia College in Peshawar by a peace group, his conventions in Islamabad were disrupted by angry students, he’s been named in an FIR for murder and his most ambitious project, creating a new Pakistan resolution at Minar-e-Pakistan in front of millions of his followers, as he had boasted, fizzled in front of far less than a hundred people at a hastily concluded event at Alhamra in Lahore on the 23rd of this month.
So, was it people like me, and many other columnists who did a far better job of addressing this demagogue, who won out with arguments of rationalism, trying to reclaim public discourse from charlatans? No. Factual argument had very little to do with it. And that is problematic as I shall explain further on.
What happened? Two things: first the overconfidence of his relentless ego that believed its own hype, and second a past that caught up with him. Let’s look at each in turn, eventually coming to the point I mentioned before, that his misfortunes are not a cause for celebration.
First, ego. In his speeches, he rails for the reintroduction of the Khilafat system but is short on all specifics. Simultaneously, he will present himself as the saviour, using the royal “we”. He is not one for modesty, quickly one sees through the ruse. He launches into huge spiels of how the CIA, RAW and Mossad are afraid of him. In one TV programme he claimed that the FBI was watching him and he had found a loophole on its website, that it didn’t mention Osama bin Laden’s wanted status in reference to 9/11. Zaid was sure that after the programme had been aired the FBI would change it.
Well, as usual with Zaid, the facts were wrong. Osama never claimed involvement with 9/11, only his appreciation for it, and the reason for it is tactical. If Osama was caught, any admission would bring a quick close to the trial, he would like to prolong it to give him an opportunity to critique the US for as long as possible within earshot of the US media. As it is, the website has not changed to this day, more than a year after Zaid claimed it would after his revelation. So much for being an “analyst”. It’s been more than a year since he definitely “proved” that Israel would attack Pakistan in March of 2009.
Regarding his total failure in getting a hundred, let alone lakhs of, people to hear him pass a new ‘Pakistan Resolution’, he has a new excuse that he has sent out to his followers. Apparently, he thinks it’s just like the situation of the Prophet (PBUH) at Hudaiybia! Talk about narcissism.
A charismatic and well-spoken man, he got too used to followers who lapped all his “prophetic” words about politics without counterargument, and the summersaults and changing of position he regularly did were ignored by them on account of the force of his personality. Unfortunately, for him the problem with the media is that it creates repositories online, so in one programme where he tries and puts up a peaceful façade by saying he isn’t against Hindus, it’s easily contradicted by another programme where he calls them a “paleed” nation.
He says he hates the US, but will happily accept dollars for small reports he authors. It was almost as if he believed he was immune to the rules of logic, and that others wouldn’t notice. Anyone who did was a CIA/Mossad/RAW agent, like Hamid Mir who he once accused of being just that.
He has been railing against democracy for the longest time because of Pakistan’s cooperation with the US and his desire for his caliphate, but will never criticise Musharraf who set the current relationship in place. If it suited Zaid the rules were flexible. And hence the backlash.
Falling in love with celebrity circles was another problem. While pushing a hardliner Islamic agenda, he would also hobnob with rock stars and fashion designers who treated him with a cult-like awe. Increasing the personal realm of influence was more important than ideological consistency. Others saw through that.
And now to the past. Islamic groups turned against Zaid Hamid when an old case against Yousuf Ali (better known since as Yousuf Kazzab) gained prominence. Yousuf believed he had the soul of the Prophet (PBUH) within him, and was eventually sentenced to death for blaspheming. Documentary evidence has since surfaced that alleges close links between Zaid Hamid and Yousuf. Zaid denied any association for the longest time, but now admits to a link and has not outright distanced himself from the beliefs of Yousuf. This has galvanised the ulema against him. The FIR against Zaid Hamid for murder is for the gunning down of Maluana Jalalpuri who authored a fatwa against Zaid and was killed soon after. His family claim Zaid Hamid had threatened him before his murder.
Whenever Yousaf Kazzab is brought up before Zaid, he insists that the Quranic rules of evidence should be used and false allegations shall take accusers to hellfire. Funny, it never occurs to him to use the same Quranic principles when he randomly labels anyone who inconveniences him in his thirst for followers as a traitor and an agent.
Now, why do I say the downfall of Zaid should not be celebrated? Well, because the very issues of hate speech, militarism and false conspiracy theories remain unaddressed. If Zaid’s past was clean, if his ego had not got the better of him, would he have been kosher for Pakistan? In their charge against Zaid, why are the ulema not also talking about how our religion is being misused to fan hate and not tolerance? Even if Zaid magically became irrelevant, what about the persistence of these arguments by others? What is to be done about the erosion of rational discourse in our country?
Is it no less a blasphemy that the ulema who are happy to put their attention to Zaid remain quiet when innocent Christian villages are razed by angry mobs? Or that the Prophet’s (PBUH) instructions on education are routinely ignored in a nation that suffers from unforgivable illiteracy? What about the boy murdered in the UET for listening to music by the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, why are the ulema silent? The ulema have said nothing about Zaid’s other pronouncements and beliefs; their love affair with him is only over because of his alleged past, not his dubious present.
The truth of the matter is that Pakistan is in no danger of not believing in the finality of the Prophet (PBUH), with the exception of some small groups. The ulema have a role to play that they have woefully neglected, rather becoming instruments in reactionary behaviour, being anti-progress and sidelining education. Of course, there are some who are an exception to this, but the large majority has failed to provide for the people, preferring instead power over the illiterate.
There is a section celebrating Zaid’s setbacks. That’s myopic. One man is not responsible for the madness in a country where some, for example, in the middle class, cannot bring themselves to condemn the Taliban. A victory would have been if the triumph was for reclaiming sense, rationality and Islam in our national dialogue from those who subdue it for self-aggrandisement.
The writer is a Rhodes scholar and former academic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org