Pakistani clerics declare vaccination an American plot

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by armchair_jihad, Feb 15, 2007.

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  1. Polio cases jump in Pakistan as clerics declare vaccination an American plot

    · Rumours leave thousands of children unprotected
    · Aid workers increasingly targeted by tribal militants

    The parents of 24,000 children in northern Pakistan refused to allow health workers to administer polio vaccinations last month, mostly due to rumours that the harmless vaccine was an American plot to sterilise innocent Muslim children.

    The disinformation - spread by extremist clerics using mosque loudspeakers and illegal radio stations, and by word of mouth - has caused a sharp jump in polio cases in Pakistan and hit global efforts to eradicate the debilitating disease.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) recorded 39 cases of polio in Pakistan in 2006, up from 28 in 2005. The disease is concentrated in North-West Frontier Province, where 60% of the refusals were attributed to "religious reasons".

    "It was very striking. There was a lot of anti-American propaganda as well as some misconceptions about sterilisation," said Dr Sarfaraz Afridi, a campaign manager with the WHO in Peshawar.

    The scaremongering and appeals to Islam echoed a similar campaign in the Nigerian state of Kano in 2003, where the disease then spread to 12 polio-free countries over the following 18 months. Pakistan is one of just four countries where polio remains endemic. The others are Nigeria, India and Afghanistan.

    The North-West Frontier Province government made strenuous efforts to counter talk of an "infidel vaccine". Health workers fanning across the province last month were equipped with copies of a fatwa, or religious order, endorsing the vaccinations and signed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the leaders of Pakistan's most powerful religious parties.

    The move reassured many doubters. More than 5.7 million children were vaccinated in January, with another 3 million targeted in a second round due to start next Tuesday. "The elephant is over. We are left with just the tail," said Dr Afridi.

    But the tail has a deadly sting. Even though only 24,000 children missed the vaccine, the WHO officials said failure to vaccinate in small pockets of the country gave the virus a fresh toehold to spread.

    The vaccination struggle is entangled with the confrontation between the government and powerful militants in the tribal areas. Refusals were highest in areas where conservative clerics and self-styled "Pakistani Taliban" fighters hold sway, flouting government authority and making their own strict laws.

    Almost 2,000 children were not vaccinated in Bajaur, a tribal agency on the Afghan border where US warplanes bombed a house last year in the hope of killing al-Qaida's No2, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The jets missed their target but inflamed extremist sentiment. Recently militants ordered Bajaur's barbers to stop shaving beards on the grounds that it was "un-Islamic". The barbers complied.

    In nearby Swat Valley, a young firebrand cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, denounced the polio campaign through a local FM radio station. His brother was killed in a Pakistani army attack on a madrasa, or Islamic school, late last year. Almost 4,000 children were not vaccinated in Swat.

    Imran Khan, of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said: "Some people feel they are under attack here ... That is clouding their attitudes."

    Demands for "assistance" from local officials and elders was the other major factor behind the refusals. In the Mohmand tribal agency, policemen demanded their salaries before allowing vaccination to proceed. Other villagers asked for money or the release of criminals from jail.

    "Demand" refusals accounted for about one-third of cases, the WHO said.

    But some brave women were uncowed by the extortion or demagoguery. Up to 200 babies a day are vaccinated at the Khyber teaching hospital in Peshawar, where burka-clad women arrive with children in their arms. Some arrive in secret, slipping into the clinic in defiance of male relatives who oppose vaccination. "One woman told me, 'My husband is illiterate. He has no idea how important this vaccine is,'" said Muhammad Islam, a male nurse.

    Aid workers fear they are being pushed into the frontline of the struggle between the government and tribal militants, some linked to the Taliban and al-Qaida. Last weekend a grenade was lobbed into a Red Crescent compound in Peshawar, damaging vehicles but killing nobody.

    Some linked the attack to a fatwa issued in Dara Adam Khel, a lawless town famous for its gunsmiths, just before Christmas. A cleric named Mufti Khalid Shah declared a fatwa on employees of the UN, WHO and all other foreign organisations. "Killing their employees is in line with the teachings of jihad in Islam," said a notice.

    "We are very worried," said Mr Khan, of the Human Rights Commission. "You have to be very careful about admitting to working for an NGO these days."

    Recently aid workers in Bannu, near North Waziristan, were sent a letter and a 500 rupee (£4.50) note, he said. "The letter said they had a choice. They could either stop work or buy their own coffin.",,2013369,00.html

    Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad, Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah!
  2. Tough, if their religion will not let them take advantage of modern medicine, then let them live in the stone age, with all it's distinct disadvantages!
  3. That's a bit harsh! It is not their religion that is preventing them from taking the vaccines, it is extremist clerics using religion for their own ends. I think it's appalling that anyone could deceive people in this fashion for no readily apparent reason.
  4. That really is just crazy talk. They could always test a few batches anyway. But this is so paranoid. The kids will suffer the most if this is true.
    Quite sad really.
  5. Well said.

    Look on the bright side every person that dies because they haven't had the vaccine is one less potential suicide bomber. Suits me Sir.
  6. Yes, but they choose to follow that religion and listen to the 'clerics'.

  7. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    Well, I'm all for it. If the west is trying to inflict their 'health' medicines on them, they have every right to refuse.

    Their number will decrease of course, and it's got nothing to do with sterilising Muslims, but there you have it, there it is, and there you go.

    Now, if only we could get the whole of Islam to take this rather laudable step against Western Crusading Imperialism.
  8. Most of the so called clerics are ill educated anyway and if people are stupid enough to listen to them then that's their fault. ignorance is no excuse. Who knows in a few years time might even work in our favour a bit hard to do section attacks in calipers and the kids relatives might just dole a shoeing out for them.
    Any links as to the rise of TB coming in from the Sub continent
  9. A_S, its quite clear that the majority are being cowed by a few illiterate ignorant power hungry bastwards. Choosing doesn't come into it, as they'll probably get filled in if they dare to think or do different as the concerned mothers bearing their children illustrate.

    Spiffy, you are no different to those ignorant clerics. You speak of a religion and culture without any knowledge or experience of either. You, your ignorance and the BNP deserve each other.

    Now go do one - you fcuking stupid c*nt
  10. While ignoring the bigots who apparently wish polio upon children, it should be pointed out that even the great Christian civilised nations sometimes suffer from irrational fears of innoculation - anyone remember the scare about the combined mumps, measles and rubella jab causing autism?
    No mad clerics there, just common or garden scaremongers and the ignorant. However, the result was the same - disabled kids.
    So lets not get too superior...

    Back to AJ's original post, polio isn't the only pestilence stalking that part of the world...
    February 15, 2007
    Typhoid claims five lives in Afghanistan
    Typhoid has claimed five lives and infected some 200 others, mostly children, in Afghanistan's central Ghor province over the past 10 days, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

    The epidemic broke out in Charsada district 10 days ago and a team of doctors has been sent to the area to control it, daily Outlook quoted the director of the provincial Health Department Abdul Qayum Paknijad as saying.

    He said the provincial administration had taken all possible measures to control the epidemic and provided medical treatment to infected individuals at their doorsteps.

    About symptoms of the disease, the official said high grade fever and anorexia grip the patient at the initial stage which might result in death if immediate treatment was not provided to the affected person.
  11. Prat. I'd guess that I've served/worked in more Islamic shitholes than you have, and those experiences are what I base my dislike of Islam on.

    Get yer knees brown sonny boy.
  12. Replace vaccinations with invading Iraq, is there all that much difference?

    We really should be carefull about stone throwing in glass houses, here.

    Don't forget it wasn't long ago that we were being scared off MMR by people shouting very loudly with no scientific evidance.

    And still 20% of US children are not vaccinated against Polio.

    In Pakistan this is at 37% (

    For a first world vs third world debate, I would have hoped the gap would be higher than 17%.

    Not just Pakistan, but Africa as well
  13. Mmm, let me see: Algeria, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran and Pakistan.

    That enough for you ? Don't confuse culture with religion.
  14. Yawn.

    So for instance you're saying that the public beheadings etc in saudi are culture not religion....yawn
  15. "Yawn.

    So for instance you're saying that the public beheadings etc in saudi are culture not religion....yawn"

    Umm, yes, they are Culturally based.........on a religious priciple. The Sharia law prescribes death as a penalty (religion), the wahabists have taken it upon themselves to deign such a penalty to be carried out by beheading (culture). There are plenty of Islamic countries that carry out the death penalty, not all of them do it by beheadings. :sweatdrop:

    Helmet on - duck and cover :meditate: