Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trust Women Conference London 2012

Women without Borders has the great opportunity to participate in the Trust Women Conference in London organized by Thomson Reuters Trust Law Foundation and the International Herald Tribune. This year's conference focus is „Putting the Rule of Law behind Women's Rights“ - an issue that couldn't be more up to date.
After a brief video message by Aung San Su Kyi, the theme of today, “Culture and Law”, was introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi. She highlighted the problems that arise for a society and especially the women in it when its culture and its legal system contradict each other. The many different speakers, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist, Sima Samar, the remarkable Chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, highlighted the dangers that a dual legal system, one formal, another ruled by entrenched traditions, poses to an equal society –what happens, when culture “clashes” law.
Women around the world have been faced with severe violations of their rights, ranging from forced (child) marriage to acid attacks, FGM and honor killings, just to name a few. Also, they have been denied education, emancipation and a life that is equal in rights to their male peers. In their arbitrariness, many of the practices that inhibit women's emergence have been justified with culture and sometimes religion, making them thus impalpable to foreign critics. 

However, aside from the destitute situations in many countries, there were also positive narratives to be heard. Mercy Chidi, for example, of Tumaini Girls Rescue Centre in Kenya, told the delegates about a petition that was filed in October on the behalf of hundreds of Kenyan girls to force the police to investigate and prosecute rape cases they say have been ignored. They subsequently sued the government for failing to protect them from rape, a historic moment in Kenya. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy told the story of a young Pakistani woman that tries to challenge the mindset of rural Pakistani communities by asking them simple questions.
The general consensus of this first day of the conference was that women, who had been affected in any way by a violation of their basic rights, do not want to be designated as victims. They want to take action within their societies in order to prevent other women and girls from suffering similar fates or to change the way of history in their societies.
Another exciting and inspiring day is awaiting us tomorrow, with the focus on human trafficking.

- Lea von Martius

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Women were among first to respond to Beirut bombing - By Evita Mouawad

Friday’s tragic bomb incident in Beirut is a sad reminder of Lebanon’s increasing vulnerability to the ongoing crisis in neighboring Syria. The murder of Wissam al-Hassan, head of the intelligence branch of the Internal Security Forces and outspoken critic of the Syrian regime, triggered a wave of fear throughout the country that had been relatively stable since 2008.

Soon after the explosion, the two main political coalitions, the anti-Syrian March 14 and pro-Syrian March 8, immediately began accusing one another, inciting sectarian tension in a country that is already hanging on a thread.

It must be said that behind this agitated and irresponsible political discourse, the real victims of Friday’s incident were quickly forgotten by our politicians: residents of Achrafieh (the neighborhood that was targeted) whose homes were completely destroyed and loved ones injured by the blast, employees of the banks and shops located on the street where the bomb was triggered, university students who were walking by looking forward to yet another weekend with friends and family… they were the immediate victims, and yet their injuries and losses were immediately sold out for yet another day of rage and political accusations.

It was not surprising that the first to respond to the victims’ needs was the active network of Lebanese NGOs, including blood donation NGOs, crisis response groups and women’s rights organizations. Hotels in the area immediately opened their doors to the victims of the blast, Facebook and Twitter were also flooded by messages from young men and women declaring their houses open for those who did not have a place to stay for the night. It was not long before Nasawiya, a collective of feminists working on gender justice in Lebanon, also began to collect water, food and clothes for the families who had lost everything. 

These young men and women are solid proof that this vicious plot designed to pit us against one another was not successful among a great number of people. Many of us young Lebanese are tired of the same political and religious discourse based on sectarian hate and mistrust, and are ready to build a new national identity rooted in tolerance, peace and stability.

Last but not least, this quick and selfless response to the bombing is also a reminder that women are not only capable of preventing conflict and restoring peace, they are also often the first ones to react in times of crisis, by setting politics and religion aside, and providing relief to all victims of violence on a much-needed ‘human’ footing. 

- Evita Mouawad

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New details on Malala's case, giving an insight into Pakistan's lose Taliban policies

While Malala Yousufzai’s condition is stabilizing, details on the attack last week are slowly emerging. According to Reuters, one of the two gunmen involved in the shooting has been identified by his first name. Attaullah, a young man, was arrested in 2009 during the Pakistani military campaign that pushed the Taliban out of the Swat Valley. Due to a lack of evidence of connections to terrorist groups, he was released after only three months. However, a senior security official is refuting this statement, indicating that authorities reputedly did gather enough evidence to arrest Attaullah when they raided his house in the Swat Valley. According to officials, Attaullah organized the attack on Malala on orders of one of the Taliban's most feared commanders, Maulana Fazlullah, who operated from Afghanistan after the 2009 military raid before returning the Pakistan this past June. Critics say Pakistan's low conviction rate of militants, even high-profile individuals who carried out major attacks, is one reason why extremism has spread in the South Asian nation. Public fury over the shooting has increased pressure on the Pakistani military to mount a major offensive against the Taliban, which has close allegiances to Al Qaeda and a host of other militant groups. The Taliban, fighting to topple the government and impose a radical theocracy, have blown up hundreds of girls’ schools in recent years in Swat and other areas to further their opposition to the education of women.

- Lea von Martius

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"In Our Country There are Three Threats: Terrorism, Poverty, and Ignoring the Fundamental Rights of Our Daughters" --President Zardari

Her fearless commitment to her cause—girls’ right to education in the Taliban-infested Swat Valley in Pakistan—has made Malala Yousafzai famous around the world, setting an example of peaceful resistance against a hateful and violent regime. When she was awarded the Pakistani government’s Peace Prize in 2011, her purpose gained public exposure and global attention – making her a thorn in the Taliban’s flesh. If there is one thing the Taliban despise, it is educated women and girls who claim their rights.

Last week, Malala barely survived the attack of a Taliban gunman, who shot her in the head on her way to school. After receiving treatment in a military hospital in Islamabad, Malala was transferred to a hospital in Birmingham to receive further treatment on Monday. However, the hopes for her recovery are accompanied by the fear of yet another attack on her life. According to senior physician David Rosser, alleged relatives attempted to gain access to Malala in the hospital several times.

Her case has received immense international attention, and has resulted in an outpouring not only of sympathy but also new levels of understanding for Malala’s cause and the danger she has been putting herself into, from the grassroots to celebrity voices and the highest political levels. Yesterday, the Daily Beast published an article by Angelina Jolie in which the actress, who has been an advocate for women’s rights for many years, emphasizes the power of education and the imperative for people around the world to stand up and keep on fighting Malala’s battle.

Jolie writes: “As girls across Pakistan stand up to say “I am Malala,” they do not stand alone. Mothers and teachers around the world are telling their children and students about Malala, and encouraging them to be a part of her movement for girls’ education. Across Pakistan, a national movement has emerged to rebuild the schools and recommit to educate all children, including girls. This terrible event marks the beginning of a necessary revolution in girls’ education.”

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack on Malala on Tuesday as a crime against humanity. “In our country there are three threats: terrorism, poverty and ignoring the fundamental rights of our daughters.” Meanwhile, the Taliban have defended the attacks, saying that Malala ignored their warnings and left them “no choice”. In an official statement released by the Taliban, the group now says that Malala was not attacked because she had campaigned for education, but because she acted against God's warriors and their war. "The Shariah says that even a child can be killed if it is against Islam."

Although much remains to be done in the fight against violent extremism, Malala is the first step toward a new model of inclusion, public resistance to radical ideologies, and recognition of the vital role women and girls can play in creating a safer world. “Malala is proof that it only takes the voice of one brave person to inspire countless men, women, and children.” 

- Lea von Martius

Friday, October 12, 2012

Remembering Bali

By Lea von Martius
The terrible images of the October 12th,  2002 Bali bombings are imprinted on the collective memory of the world: burnt-out buildings, dead bodies piling up on the streets, and the wan face of Umar Patek. Not only do they bear witness to one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in recent history, which took place just one year after 9/11, but represent the rapid expansion of global terrorism. 202 people from 23 different countries lost their lives in the attacks, including Indonesian, Australian, and British nationals. This morning, on the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, a commemoration ceremony was held in Kuta, the southern Balinese town where the attacks happened. Both family members of victims and survivors who barely escaped the horrors themselves attended the event. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, whose country mourned the most deaths after the attacks, was also present to show her support for the ones left behind. Anggie Dewirini, the SAVE Indonesia representative, attended the ceremony this morning:

Placing flowers in a reflecting pool at the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Kuta bombings
“This morning, on my way to the event, there were police everywhere. When I arrived, I was amazed at how many people were there—family members of victims, survivors, NGO representatives, journalists, security guards, and politicians. The choir that sang touched the hearts of everyone there—I felt like they were singing to each one of us individually. I felt so much empathy with the family members of the victims there that I am among them now. It was as if I too had lost a loved one. I found myself crying as I put flowers in the small reflection pool. I held one of the victims, and my heart went out to her. I can’t even describe how it felt to see all the faces and photographs of the victims on the memorial wall.” Her words reflect the devastation that still holds family members firmly in its grasp even ten years later.

Family members of victims walk past the boards with photos of all the victims

It is easy to forget that that Bali, an extremely popular tourist destination, belongs to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation. Although the island is geographically far removed from the Middle East, Al Qaida and a number of jihadist splinter groups who have strongholds there have recently begun exerting influence in Indonesia, which has traditionally been recognized as a very moderate Muslim country. The end of the Suharto autocracy has created a political vacuum which extremist groups are strategically filling with their ideologies of hate and vengeance.

The commemoration ceremony’s messages of peace and progress come in the wake of terrifying news from Pakistan—the attack on Malala Yousafzai last Tuesday. The 14 year old girl, known internationally as an advocate for the rights of children and women in her country and who, at the age of eleven, was awarded the national Peace Prize by the Pakistani government, was shot by Pakistani Taliban. While she is struggling for her life in the hospital, her courage and commitment set an example for individuals around the world to challenge extremist rhetoric and stand up for their rights. Malala, a young girl, almost a child, managed to unsettle the powerful Taliban and draw the attention of the global media to their tactics. Even more importantly, the attack has led to dissension within the ranks of the Taliban: terrorist leaders worldwide have condemned the attack as "barbaric" (source:

Anggie Dewirini adds: “I hope that the terrorists and extremists can see that all humans around the world have the same rights, especially the right to live our lives in peace. Let us see that we are one family—we don’t want to hate each other, we want to be at peace. Let us hold hands, and not see differences as a barrier to peace.”

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Malala Yosufzai: A Ray of Hope for Pakistan, by Arshi Hashmi

The courageous young girl Malala Yosufzai* is the ray of hope for most Pakistanis, especially girls. She not only stood up against Talibanization, but through her writings and speech convinced other girls that they can also dream of education and freedom of expression without any fear. It is so unfortunate that the Taliban attacked her while she was on her way back home from School. They confirmed her identification and then shot at her, which shows that it was clearly a targeted attack. Soon after the attack, Taliban issued a statement and sent it to the media saying that Malala "provoked" the people against the Taliban, which is why she is targeted. The attackers were successful in targeting her, but they had perhaps not realized that their act would create huge resentment and protest in the country. TV channels, newspapers, and the highest authorities, including the chief of army staff Gen Kiyani, visited her at the hospital condemning the attack. Major political parties, both conservative and liberal, held huge prayers for her recovery. School, colleges and universities all had a moment of silence and prayers for her. The more Taliban wanted to create fear in the society, the more people have come up against the act. In Swat,where the attack occurred , common people who were interviewed by private TV channels spoke against the attack. Pakistanis are sad , they are ashamed of not having protected the girl who is confident, full of hope and action for change. This is an important moment, if we as a nation let this pass without any stern action against the Taliban then nobody will ever be able to stand against violent extremism and terrorism in the name of God. Let's hope that the society will continue to speak up against this insanity and break the culture of silence that has been benefiting the extremists. 

*Malala Yosufzai is a 14-year-old women's rights and counter terrorism activist from the Swat Valley who advocated for access to education for girls in the region. Malala's writings have been featured on the BBC and she was the focus on a New York Times documentary; in 2010, Malala was awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.

On October 9, 2012, Taliban shooters boarded the bus carrying her home for school, asked for her by name, and then shot her in the neck and head. She survived the shooting and is currently recovering in a hospital.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Next Generation of Young Female Leaders: Confident, In Control, and Visionary

“Many change agents focus on pathology. Instead, one must focus on vision.”
                                                                                                                                -Gail Straub

 Gail Straub, co-founder of the Empowerment Institute, held an eye-opening and profound leadership workshop with nine global scholars from Korea, Egypt, India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Africa, the United States, and Austria from September 17-19, 2012. Organized in advance of the launch of the Omega Institute’s new Women’s Leadership Center during the 2012 Women &Power conference near Rhinebeck, NY, Gail’s workshop imparted the tools and skills necessary to allow these dedicated young women to explore their own leadership styles and to identify the next steps for growth and empowerment.

The commonalities between the issues these women from around the world say they face are striking: across the board, the global scholars indicated that they needed help with boosting their own self-confidence, “owning” their achievements, finding a “mirror” to be able to accurately assess their efficacy as a leader, finding a balance between masculine and feminine as well as head-driven and heart-driven leadership styles, and being able to trust others. Although the women work in extremely diverse fields, including with female inmates in the United States, with sex workers in India, in interfaith and women’s empowerment projects in Indonesia, and in building shelters for women in Afghanistan,  they faced similar challenges in being able to fully claim and flourish in their leadership potential.

Gail helped the group to identify their own personal “limiting beliefs,” such as “In order to trust someone else I have to give up control,” and to redefine these beliefs to create achievable visions. She pointed out that most change agents focus on pathology—that is to say, they focus their attention on identifying and defining problems, which tends to cause the problem to grow and to limit an individual’s ability to find solutions to the problem. Instead, Gail encourages young leaders to focus on their vision—and the solution to the problem will follow.

Azza, from Egypt, has the following vision: “I want to be in control of my life—I want to get in the boat of life and guide the boat, not let the boat be guided by the waves.” Hyung Kyun, from South Korea, wants to “harvest the abundance of life.”
On September 22, Gail interviewed Azza, Samu (from South Africa), Manizha (from Afghanistan), and Tejaswi (from India) on stage at the Women & Power conference. These courageous young leaders got a standing ovation from the crowd as they shared their life experiences and hopes for their own future as well as for the futures of women in their communities. It is female leaders like these with whom SAVE liaises around the world to find new and sustainable ways of combating violent extremism, through the targeted and responsible inclusion of women in the security sphere.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yes, We Still Need a Women's Movement -- for the Sake of Everybody

By Carla Goldstein, originally published by Huffington Post
Carla Goldstein, chief external affairs officer at Omega and cofounder of the Omega Women's Leadership Center, discusses why the need for a women's movement is just as timely as ever.

In any discussion about the relevance of the women's movement, outrage has its place; like when an elected official talks about "legitimate rape," or a young pregnant woman dies of aggressive cancer because the state protects her fetus instead of her; or a woman is stoned to death for adultery; or a public official is censored for saying the word vagina in a policy debate.

The supply of the outrageous is vast enough to keep us in a state of perma-scream. But that's not sustainable.

To make the kinds of change we dream of, outrage has to be paired with everyday efforts to create a fundamental shift in human consciousness -- from our deeply fractured state of "us against them" to a more healed "we are all in this together."

Our fractured way of being arises from the known and the unknown; from biological survival needs to social identity; from warring over scarce resources to disagreeing about the very origins and meaning of life. This tangled web is so complex that it seems we might not ever loosen the knot. But across time, culture, religion, and ideology, there has been a persistent idea that we can live as a more unified, loving and connected human family.

That's why we still need a women's movement.

We need a women's movement because the fracture between women and men is cornerstone to so much of the world's pain and trauma. Girls and women still suffer disproportionately from gender based violence, discrimination, and lack of access to basic human rights. And boys and men still suffer immeasurably from sexism and cultural definitions of masculinity, which often shut them off from the feminine parts of themselves and force them to live within a narrow band of human experience.

And we still need a women's movement because the movement's vision of change goes well beyond the notion of creating gender equality. It is about figuring out how we can take care of everybody and of the earth that sustains all life. Making this kind of deep and lasting change is no small order. It requires massive systems change, including reengineering of our economies, politics, and religious institutions. And, it requires a steely commitment by individuals to "be the change," and reengineer our own personal habits, motivations, and way of living together on our precious planet.

This vision is often dismissed as naïve and not possible, because it is asserted that the current "us versus them" paradigm is pre-ordained by nature or God or both. Yet new science reveals that cooperation is a thriving natural survival mechanism and most religions and spiritual doctrines are based on a unity principle.

In every corner of the world, women are creating new pathways of human progress, building bridges across intractable political conflicts and healing some of the deepest fractures in the human spirit. Women like Edit Schlaffer, founder of Women without Borders, who is working with mothers impacted by extremist violence to create new pathways for human security and Chung Hyun Kyung, a theologian who is helping create Jo Gak Bo (Quilt), a peace movement between North and South Korean women.

We see these new paths of change in the work of Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, a senior researcher who coordinated victims' public testimonies on South Africa's TRC, who is deepening our understanding of healing in the aftermath of gross human-rights violations and mass trauma; and in Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who is building a comprehensive campaign to change how society treats care. And countless more.

One of the great strengths of the women's movement has been its central chord of optimism that the world can be different, that change can happen, and that women can and will take responsibility for bringing that change into being. Instead of debating whether there is still a need for a women's movement, we should be asking ourselves what role we can all play in healing the deep fractures that exist between us to help realize the enduring promise of an "all of us" world.

The exigency for such a movement seems as clear as ever.

Carla Goldstein, JD, is Chief External Affairs Officer at Omega Institute, and and co-founder of the new Omega Women's Leadership Center, which launches September 21st at "Women & Power 2012" in Rhinebeck, N.Y. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state, and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women's rights, poverty, public health, and social justice.

Who creates harmony the world over? Women. Who signs peace deals? Men

 by Julian Borger, originally published by The Guardian

Around the world, women make peace in their homes and communities on a daily basis. But when it comes to negotiating and signing peace deals on a national or international level they are almost universally shut out, according to a report that calls for a more balanced approach to resolving conflict.
Peacemakers: Clockwise, from top left, Asha Amin, campaigner for women, Somalia; Monica McWilliams, Northern Ireland women’s coalition; Ana Guadalupe Martínez, former liberation leader, El Salvador; Luz Méndez, women’s campaigner, Guatemala; Starlin Abdi Arush, aid worker, Somalia; Martha Karua, rights activist, Kenya. (c) The Guardian 

A 2000 UN security council resolution that called for equal participation for women in "the maintenance and promotion of sustainable peace" has been almost totally ignored, not least by the UN itself, says the report. There have been no female chief mediators in UN-brokered peace talks and fewer than 10% of police officers and 2% of the soldiers sent on UN peacekeeping missions have been women.

Fewer than one in 40 of the signatories of major peace agreements since 1992 have been female, according to the UN development fund for women, Unifem. They played a bit part in settlements in El Salvador, Guatemala, Northern Ireland and Papua New Guinea, but in 17 out of 24 major accords – including Croatia, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Liberia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo – there was zero female participation in signing agreements.

A report published by the Institute of Development Studies, funded by ActionAid and Womankind Worldwide, argues that this near total absence of women from official peacekeeping is not only a waste of a powerful resource for conflict resolution but also means formal peace deals are seriously flawed, taking a narrow definition of what constitutes enduring peace that mostly ignores the needs of women and girls.

The report, From the Ground Up, surveyed Afghanistan, Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan and Sierra Leone and found that in local settings women took a broader view of peace that included basic rights such as freedom from violence in the home, as well as education and healthcare.

"In contrast, men have a greater tendency to associate peace with the absence of formal conflict and the stability of formal structures such as governance and infrastructure," the report said.

The difference in perception means that in Sierra Leone, for example, which is generally classified as post-conflict, most women did not consider themselves to be living in peace. "This is attributed by respondents to the high rates of poverty and violence against women, including domestic violence, mental abuse and abandonment."

"We're not talking about a big war," said one woman from Afghanistan, "but peace for us also means no domestic violence."

The survey of the five countries found that women and girls had a tendency to form groups and coalitions to deal with problems and got on with resolving conflicts up to the point when the process became formal, when the men took over. The higher and more formal the level of peace-building, the smaller the degree of female participation, the study found.

Shalah Farid, a lecturer at Kabul University said Afghan women were largely excluded from official attempts to find a political settlement.

"In the high-level peace council there are only seven or nine women – they don't have real power and time to engage in a real peace process," she said. "They are just symbolic. People use security as a way of denying women the right to participate. People are saying women cannot keep secrets so we cannot involve them in confidential discussions."

The Afghan experience was by no means unique. "The skills of women as mediators and decision-makers within the home and their experiences building trust and dialogue in their families and communities are frequently dismissed as irrelevant or are not sufficiently valued by national governments, the international community or by women themselves," the study said.

"Yet this research demonstrates that at the local level, women continue to build peace within their homes and communities and to come together collectively to create change."

The study recommends a quota of 30% women's participation in "all local, national, and international peace negotiation processes", and urges donor governments to keep to a UN target of 15% of peacebuilding aid to address women's specific needs.

Womankind's chief executive, Jackie Ballard, called for more money from Britain's "conflict pool", earmarked for peacebuilding, to be spent on women.

"Women work together in some of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world to try to build lasting peace for themselves and their families," she said. "A tough job is made tougher by a lack of support. The money is there in the conflict pool, but is not being dedicated to those grassroots women's groups who are rebuilding communities without basic supplies and support."

Responding to the report, Lynne Featherstone, Britain's international development minister said: "The UK is determined to support women taking an active part in their communities, which is why we are committed to helping 10 million women access justice by 2015.

"It is shocking that for millions of the world's poorest people their gender is the biggest barrier to a healthy and secure life. This is why the government puts girls and women at the heart of all our development efforts. Discrimination and violence destroys the potential of girls and women in developing countries and prevents them from pulling themselves out of poverty."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Touring Terror in Jerusalem

Jaffa Road, by Miriam Alster, European Pressphoto Agency
Eetta Prince-Gibson is a freelance journalist in Jerusalem and former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Violence is not the Answer to the Childish Attempt Against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

By Arshi Saleem Hashmi, SAVE’s Chapter Leader in Pakistan

Arshi Saleem Hashmi
The childish attempt by a film maker to humiliate the sanctity of an Abrahamic religion should be condemned. Like many attempts in the past where some people in their own capacity tried to ridicule Islam and particularly the last prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was reflection of their own narrow thinking. This film does not amount to what majority of the people belonging to different faiths in the west think; this particular film is a brain child of an ignorant who tried to capitalize the anti-Muslim feelings.  It is important to understand that just like the obscurantists who do not respect other religions are not the representative of the Muslim all over the world, these people, who have been trying to ridicule the foundation of Muslim faith, are not the representative of the tolerant tradition of the western societies. One of the basic tenets of our religion Islam is to respect all the religions especially Abrahamic religions. It is not widely known in the west that a Muslim is supposed to respect and believe in all the prophets and the books that were sent from the God.  Majority of the Muslim believe in tolerance and understanding. Having said that, any insult to the prophet Muhammad would not be accepted by any Muslim, the extremists might have reacted violently which is wrong, but it did hurt even those who do not considered themselves as strictly practicing Muslims. It is more about faith being targeted then about extremist narrative of present day Islamists. 

Protesters in Tahrir Square carry a poster of Osama Bin Laden, (c) Reuters
In Pakistan, religio-political parties protested against the film, Jamat-e-Islami, Jamaatu Dawa and other groups protested in different cities in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan denounced this and issued a statement against the film. The local provincial assemblies also discussed and issued statements condemning the film. Compared to Libya and other Arab countries, protests here were nonviolent mostly though they did try to reach to US Embassy in Islamabad but due to tight security they were controlled.  The instant reaction in the Arab world was due to the obvious reasons that when it comes to Islamist jihadists, action against them is justified but when attempts to humiliate the most sacred personality of Islam; it is categorized as freedom of expression. 

In Pakistan, the film has generated interesting debates and TV channels are showing many programs where the discourse is whether the hate speech in Muslim countries target or ridicule the sacred personalities of other faiths or they focus more on the policies and politics of the western countries who happened to be belonging to Christian faith.  So the dichotomy here is Muslim antagonism is due to the policies of the West particularly the US while the views that have expressed in film is focused on the most sacred Personality in Islam. A positive sign in Pakistan mainstream media is to initiate debate on this issue and majority of the people though emotionally hurt, are listening to these discussions. Any violent expression would still be a minority act just like the making of the film is a minority expression in the US.  The gist of the debate is that western freedom of expression is not universal and should not be considered as a universal definition. The point is also being raised that despite all the hate speech and violent expressions against western policies, no attempts has ever been done to make a film on ridiculing Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH, the West should also consider the way freedom of expression is defined in Muslim traditions.

Majority of Pakistanis believe in respect for all the Prophets in Abrahamic religions and they do not support violence but just like anti-Islam  minority views in the US and the West, minority views in the Muslim world will continue to react violently as they would interpret it as an attempt approved by the US in order to provoke extremism. The life of our holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the great example where in his lifetime he ignored harshest critics who tried to humiliate him, ridiculed his message and tried to hurt him physically. We should learn from our beloved prophet, we can raise voice against this act, we can protest with the US officially. Violence is not what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us. 

Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS