1. From the Express Tribune and International New York Times. This story, from Pakistan is unbelievable:
A 15-year-old boy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act, police told AFP on Friday.
Local police chief Nausher Ahmed described how an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love the Prophet (PBUH) Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying.
Mohammad Anwar, 15, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.
The crowd swiftly accused him of blasphemy so he went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric, the police chief said.
. . . Ahmed said that he has seen a video in which the boy is greeted by villagers in the street as his parents proclaim their pride.
Can you imagine what it would take for a kid to cut off his own hand? But it’s clearly an effect of Western colonialism. Nothing to do with religion, so move along, folks. . .
2. . . . to India, where, according to the BBC, popular actor Kiku Sharda was arrested for making fun of even more popular guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in a t.v. sketch. It’s a crime in India for “hurting religious sentiments,” and so Sharda was taken in (he’s out on bail now). And it’s not like there’s nothing to make fun of!:
The controversial 48-year-old chief of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect dresses up in colourful clothes and has a rock star image.
He has published half a dozen music videos and regularly performs at rock concerts, which are attended by tens of thousands of followers.
In his 2014 hit number Highway Love Charger, which has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube, the guru is seen singing and dancing in multi-coloured pyjamas and a top that is embellished with glittering sequins and stones.
He’s also played himself in two films – Messenger of God and Messenger of God 2 – where he performed daredevil stunts, riding bikes and taking on villains.
Here’s the guru himself in “Highway Love Charger”. Are you telling me this guy is above mockery?
And you might remember this:
In recent months, the Dera chief has been mired in controversy, with allegations that he forced 400 followers to undergo castrations so that they could get “closer to God” and is also accused of rape and murder – charges a spokesman for the sect has denied.
Sadly, Sharda has apologized abjectly for his action, saying it was an “unfortunate coincidence,” and that he was deliberately mocking the the guru. All of this, of course, will have a chilling effect on India’s artists willingness to criticize the powers that be, including the extreme Hinduphilic and repressive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).