Students at the Karachi Grammar School in Pakistan were scheduled to sing John Lennon‘s brilliant and beautiful song “Imagine” during a concert tonight, but the song was pulled from the event after two conservatives argued that it was an anthem to atheism and a violation of the nation’s blasphemy laws.
Columnist Ansar Abbasi spurred the controversy a couple of days ago when he noted that the lyrics included the line “And no religion too”:
A private school in Karachi is holding a concert on Friday. Students will sing John Lennon's lyrics- no heavan, no hell, no religion too .
— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) August 23, 2017
Another commentator, Orya Maqbool Jan, claimed the school was “imposing” the song on the kids and urged the government to respond.
Pakistani conservatives so offended by lyrics of John Lennon's Imagine, its only a matter of time before someone gets lynched for singing it pic.twitter.com/R2XksiL4jx
— Fahad Desmukh (@desmukh) August 25, 2017
“The song questions our belief in God and encourages an atheist mindset,” Jan said on the nationally televised programme. He called for the government to take strict action against the school and its management.
Imagine if Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity claimed that Taylor Swift‘s new song was somehow a call to arms against evangelical Christians and you get a sense of why there was an uproar among religious conservatives in the nation.
Also fueling the fire was the claim that the school’s principal wanted to indoctrinate the children against hard-line fundamentalism.
Mr Abbasi reportedly said that the school’s new Principal, Dr C. E. Wall, a British citizen educated at Appleby Grammar School, was introducing corrupting secular values to KGS, whose alma matter includes the assassinated former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.
Pakistan announced last week that they were finally revising the blasphemy laws… but only to include the death penalty for those guilty of making false accusations. So the law itself isn’t going away.
Because of all that, a classic song about a desire for world peace — that literally imagines a world where we didn’t fight over God and borders and superficial things — was struck from a concert for children.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)