Physicist Erased from Textbooks because He’s Not The Right Kind of Muslim

higgs-boson-pakistan-scientist

Source: AP

Science is a tremendous human universal. The discovery of the Higgs boson(-like particle) was a win for scientists everywhere and will lead to the continuation of awesome physics in the future. Physicists in Canada aren’t rejecting the discovery just because it happened in Switzerland or was theorized in America, because that would be ridiculous.

But apparently not too ridiculous for Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim extremists.

Adbus Salam, a Pakistani Muslim, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979 along with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for their contributions to the Standard Model of particle physics. His findings helped unify the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces, once thought separate. He was both the first Muslim and the first Pakistani to win the Nobel Prize. Pakistan should be celebrating his incredible work in light of the recent victory of the Standard Model.

Instead, the Guardian reports that,

Adbus Salam, who died in 1996, was once hailed as a national hero for his pioneering work in physics and his contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Now his name is stricken from school textbooks because he was a member of the Ahmadi sect that has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants, who view them as heretics.

The treatment of most religious minorities in Pakistan, like Shiite Muslims and Hindus, is atrocious, but the Ahmadi sect is the recipient of particularly bad discrimination.

Salam’s life, along with the fate of the 3 million other Ahmadis in Pakistan, drastically changed in 1974 when parliament amended the constitution to declare that members of the sect were not considered Muslims under Pakistani law…

All Pakistani passport applicants must sign a section saying the Ahmadi faith’s founder was an “impostor” and his followers are “non-Muslims”. Ahmadis are prevented by law in Pakistan from “posing” as Muslims, declaring their faith publicly, calling their places of worship mosques or performing the Muslim call to prayer. They can be punished with prison and even death.

It’s always sad to see religious extremists deny the importance of science, but it’s especially unfortunate in this case, since he was right about the fundamental way our universe functions, and he deserves the recognition of being in textbooks all around the world, especially his home country of Pakistan.

About chanam

Chana is a fourth year mathematics major at the University of Chicago. She is a vegetarian Jewish atheist feminist, and is thus usually angry about something or other. She also blogs at www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com

  • bLaKouT

    We must remember that not all countries have even the percieved freedom of/from religion that the U.S. has, and that it is their right to do so.

    • Ryan

      Something being legal doesn’t make it a right. A legal right, maybe, but a moral/ethical/human right? Not so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=773692362 Jansen Waddell

    I usually couldn’t care less about religious folk and their quaint rituals, but this is wilful ignorance in its unadulterated form.

  • Devin Baillie

    It’s somewhat ironic that he’s not being recognized, for being right about the universe, because he’s wrong about the universe in the wrong way.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    It’s sad that a fundamentalist little backwater chooses to deny one of its great minds. But Salam’s name has certainly not vanished from the textbooks that any real scientists are likely to encounter, nor from the dozens of important papers he contributed to- all in international journals. And the fundie crackpots can do nothing to reduce the respect of Salam’s colleagues.

    Truly, they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. A classic example of the sort of irrational extremes that religion often leads to.

    (Is Pakistan taking lessons from Texas, or vice versa, when it comes to driving historical revisionism by editing and censoring textbooks?)

    • http://www.themerelyreal.wordpress.com/ Chana

      You’re right, and thank goodness. But I feel for the Pakistani kids who won’t be reading about the first Muslim and Pakistani Nobel Laureate.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        Well, yes. But given the nature of Pakistani control over education, I expect the absence of this one name is the least we should be worrying about when it comes to those kids’ futures.

      • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

        Given the nature of Pakistani education, I doubt that they are opening *any* scientific textbooks whatsoever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joseph.auclair.56 Joseph Auclair

    What this ultimately shows is not simply that religion is bullshit but that human beings are hopeless, vicious dickwads.

    Why a vegetarian? What, you had to replace one kind of crackpot belief with another?

    • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

      Whoa there, Mr. Hostility.  Last time I checked, the term “vegetarian” referred to one’s diet, not one’s beliefs.  Why do you feel so threatened by people who don’t eat meat?

  • SFBay

    I am a Pakistani and I believe what we did to Dr. Salam is pathetic and flat out wrong. Majority of the Pakistanis are proud of him, except the handful of religious fanatics who have not respect for human lives, and taken the country hostage. They sure will go to hell!!

    • Edmond

      I’m not sure it makes much sense to decry disrespect for human life in one breath, and then condemn someone to eternal torture in the next.  No human life deserves to be tortured forever and ever, not for any crime I could imagine.  Religions which support the idea of a hell are monstrous and immoral.

  • Michael S

    Point to Adbus Salam the next time a Muslim asks “What Went Wrong?”


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