David Miliband points out the crude foundations of Bill Maher’s Islamophobia.
In a recent segment of Real Time, Bill Maher continued his attacks on Islam, this time citing a blasphemy case in Pakistan against Asia Bibi, who may face the death penalty. As a guest on the show, David Miliband, a former British Labour Party politician, deftly countered: “It’s one thing to take on a religion; the other thing is to take on the people who are abusing the religion.”
Maher is playing with fire. Islamophobia is on the rise, and his casual ignorance about Islam underpins his criticism of a religion that claims nearly 1.6 billion followers and is diverse. In the video above, Maher overlooks the origin of blasphemy laws in Pakistan, as Miliband is quick to highlight.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, first introduced to the Indian subcontinent by the British in the 19th century, were enshrined in the 1980s by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. The dictator was not particularly religious, but he saw Islam as a means to shape Pakistani society and create a bulwark against communism.
On the TV show, Maher went on to say that he would never visit Pakistan, which did little to boost his credibility. But the things he casually assumes about the country only add fuel to a fire of ignorance that prevents meaningful discussions about policies that have brought extremism and suffering to Pakistan, and have made the world a more dangerous place.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.