Thursday, June 03, 2010
Thousands took to the streets to protest against Facebook and blasphemous content being published on it. On May 28th, 80 innocent Pakistanis were murdered in cold blood as they were peacefully praying in a house of worship. I wonder how many will take to the streets to protest this atrocity? I have a feeling that there will be few or perhaps none. There will be the usual round of condolences and demands for inquiries, but we know these are merely hollow promises. In Pakistan little is accomplished without popular support, and popular support does not lend its self to causes such as protection of minorities.
When we wanted the judiciary restored, we took to the streets and had it done. When we wanted Facebook banned we took to the streets and had that done. But I have a feeling we’re going to let this one slide and stay inside. It’s ironic that we are willing to take to the streets for the sanctity of the name of the Prophet (PBUH) but not for any of his teachings. The Prophet preached that it was a sin to harm innocent people.
But somehow it doesn’t matter what happens to those that “we” don’t consider Muslims. While the phenomenon of terrorism is new, the problem of sectarian violence is not. We have harboured violent hatred and have not been afraid of expressing it. We are so caught up in some billowing self-righteous rage that we have become blind to the teachings of the religion that we profess to love and in whose name we commit all of these sins.
But these really aren’t Muslims some would say. And some would cite the teachings of popular television anchors who consider these people wajib-ul-qatl. The Prophet (PBUH) preached that even in times of war those who do not pick up arms should not be harmed; particularly women and children. But innocent children were slaughtered, the old and infirm suffered frightened and tortured deaths while they were busy in worship.
The people that were murdered were peaceful, taxpaying, law-abiding citizens of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the state, under the constitution and Islam, to provide security to those citizens who, despite adhering to different religions, pay taxes and abide by the laws of the land. But instead of providing protection to these people, we have television programs where anchors are allowed to rally support for murdering innocent citizens. And in the wake of such hatred, innocent people are murdered.
No word, whisper or whimper about this is heard. Because in our twisted worldview, it’s alright to say whatever we want about any other religions or their followers. But when someone attacks our religion in any way, shape or form, we are up in arms in a matter of minutes. We expect the world to show us nothing but respect while we show none of this to any other religion. We can laugh, joke, degrade and even attack and murder the followers of other religions without having our collective conscience flinch. How did we become so hypocritical and irrational? How did we become so cruel?
With the deaths of 80 innocent Pakistanis, the lives of hundreds of families have changed forever. There is sorrow and heartache and fear in hundreds of Ahmedi homes. But as the rest of Pakistan sleeps easy and TV anchors remain hypocritically silent, they forget that tomorrow this could be them. Through our collective silence, as we aid and abet a culture of intolerance and senseless killing that one day might consume us too. This violence, intolerance and injustice must stop. And it must stop with the largest majority speaking up against it.
For once, let’s stand up and show the world that we actually abide by the spirit of the religion that we profess to love and follow. Let us turn not far away, but towards the Holy Book and teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) to learn that this kind of violence and hate is not tolerated in Islam. This senseless killing, violence and hate will not stop unless we demand that this be done.
The writer is a student of Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, working for a master’s degree in public policy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and www.sehartariq.wordpress.com