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Activism has not ‘migrated to cyberspace’

March 20, 2011

CFD members engaging with the public to explain the letter campaign. Photo: Shuja Qureshi

Activism has not migrated to cyberspace, Published in letters to editor, Dawn, March 20, 2011

THIS is apropos of Irfan Husain’s comment ‘The ugly truth’ (March 19). While I appreciate his writing about bigotry and intolerance, I beg to differ with some of the statements he has made.

Mr Husain claimed, “I had half-expected to see a few politicians, diplomats and members of our civil society at the occasion, but spotted just one old friend.”

While I do not contest that politicians and diplomats were hard to spot, several non-Christian members of civil society were present — in fact a sizable number of them. I do not know how he intended to distinguish the difference between regular churchgoers and those there to express their solidarity with the Christian community at the memorial service held for Shahbaz Bhatti at the St Patrick’s Church in Karachi.

In fact, several distinguishable people such as Nasira Najeeb, Uzma Noorani, Fahim Zaman, Naveen Naqvi and Saleem Akhtar were, among others, present that day.

Secondly, he stated, “More and more, Pakistan’s civil society is channelling its protests into cyberspace… I fear their expressions of outrage have little impact in the real world.”

Perhaps, Mr Husain also missed the tables set up at St Patrick’s Church where these members of civil society — and members of Citizens for Democracy (CFD) — invited all those who attended the service to sign a letter addressed to the president, the prime minister and the interior minister, to apprehend the killers of Mr Bhatti in addition to many other demands.

The letter campaign, which was held on March 12 in Karachi, received pre- and post-event coverage in Dawn on March 12 and March 13. And politicians, people from the fashion and television industry, activists, regular citizens — from across classes — and Christians, including nuns from St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s parish, were among the attendees.

Previously, not only CFD, but several citizens and groups have organised and joined vigils, protests, rallies, which were all on ground, on the street events.

Be it the day after Taseer’s death or on the day Minister Bhatti was shot dead, members of civil society were out on the streets protesting.

So activism has not at all “migrated to cyberspace,” even though it is going on there as well.



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