In the intolerant and backward society of Pakistan, it seems a local Goat is out there to challenge the masses. On Thursday, in a case which has become an international media sensation, a local Goat residing in a remote tribal district of Pakistan was arrested after the Goat made some anti-religious comments. The Goat has been remanded in police custody and was scheduled to appear before a Judge this morning. Election season is going on in that region and it has been alleged by the complainants that the Goat made the allegedly anti-religious remarks at the rally of a local political leader, when the political leader was giving his speech to a small crowd that had gathered there.
“Someone was saying that a politician was distributing free food at his rally so we gathered there and also started listening to his speech. The food didn’t taste so good. But they had lots of quantity so we enjoyed. There were some goats feeding on the grass nearby. Suddenly, one goat came and stood close to the crowd. Anyways, the crowd was very receptive and enthusiastic. In the speech, the politician was strongly supporting the blasphemy law and said anyone who doesn’t support it should be imprisoned.”, said one of the eye witnesses to this incident. He continued, “All was going fine until he started directing questions towards the crowd. He openly challenged the crowd asking if anyone believes that the blasphemy law should be repealed (cancelled).” And it is then, according to the eye-witness, that a brave voice emerged from the crowd, “Main……Main…….(Me……Me….)” uttered the unflinching and confident Goat. The politician appeared visibly dismayed. Apparently, the Goat’s disapproval of the blasphemy law didn’t go down well with the politician and his staff. The Goat was arrested on the spot by police stationed nearby and immediately taken into custody.
The arrested Goat faces charges of blasphemy (for opposing the blasphemy law which is also a blasphemy), which is a strictly punishable offence under Pakistani Law. Many critics have emerged criticizing the Pakistani Government’s’ stand on such rigid and strict blasphemy laws. Several International Human Rights Organizations have written petitions to the Pakistani Government to pardon the Goat in view of right to the freedom of speech and thought. “I have known the Goat for many years and he is very polite and humble and I cannot imagine that he would hurt anyone’s religious or cultural sentiments.” said a friend (and also owner) of the Goat, while the Goat’s legal representative said that the Goat was taken out of context and didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.
The Goat made his first public appearance while entering the Court for the first hearing before a magistrate in a remote province in Pakistan. The incident has attracted worldwide media attention as was evidently seen when several human rights activists joined in to support the Goat.
On being interviewed, a journalist mockingly remarked at the Goat, “Since when did you become an activist of speech and expression?”, to which the Goat firmly replied “May (Since May).” leaving the journalist stunned at the quick wit of the Goat.
Thousands of supporters and activists had gathered just opposite to the Court building and were seen holding placards and shouting slogans in favour of the Goat. “It is about time someone has stood up to an unfair and biased law. We will stand by with this Goat till the very end.”, said an enthusiastic supporter of the Goat. The Goat arrived at the Court in a police van and almost appeared to wave at the crowd as thousands of supporters cheered on. “There is something different about this Goat. This Goat has given a new wave of hope to the people of Pakistan who are tired with the silly administration of the Government.”, said another supporter.
Such incidents have been happening since decades but are dismissed off as a small issue, however, Pakistan now faces a challenge as the world becomes more aware of human rights and dignity. “This arrest amounts to a blatant violation of human rights. The Goat, like any free citizen, has the right to express himself and stand up for that he believes in.”, said an international social activist who has specially flown into Pakistan to support the Goat. This brave Goat is not only facing against a biased blasphemy law, but in fact a whole system of an intolerant nation. Will this brave Goat change Pakistan?