WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM
Pakistan is a country that celebrated Minorities Day in Canada - because it was too unsafe in Pakistan. That alone is enough for anyone to get a decent idea of how bad the situation is for Pakistan's minorities. Pakistan's minorities have a long history of persecution, sometimes at the hands of Muslim hardliners and sometimes at the hands of the very State they pay taxes to protect their life and property. Today it seems there is little to no place for Pakistani minorities in the country that they helped create 66 years ago.
The trouble for Pakistani minorities started way back when Ahmaddiya Muslims were declared heretics and a huge persecution campaign was launched against them in Pakistan, the most memorable being the anti-Ahmaddiya riots of 1953. Jamaat-e-Islami was one of the notable parties that participated in the persecution campaign against Ahmaddiya Muslims and is still aggressively anti-Ahmaddiya today.
Ahmaddiya Muslims were declared non-Muslims through an amendment in the constitution which gave Islamists the green signal to persecute Ahmaddiya Muslims, no questions asked. Another amendment was made in 1984 which restricted the freedom of the religion of Ahmaddiya Muslims even more. Today Ahmaddiya Muslims can face jail time (if they're not lynched by a mob before that) just for identifying as Muslim or simply greeting someone with 'Assalam-u-Alaikum', an Islamic greeting. Most recently Pakistani police demolished domes of Ahmaddiya mosques in the central Punjab province. And this is nothing new. Pakistani police and State actors routinely deface Ahmaddiya graves and mosques. The grave of Pakistan's only Noble Laureate Dr Abdus Salam was also defaced because he was an Ahmaddiya Muslim. The oppression that the Pakistani media accuses Indian forces of in Kashmir is nothing compared to what the Pakistani State puts its minorities through every day. But it goes unnoticed by the Pakistani media as it avoids reporting on the persecution of Ahmaddiyas out of fear of retaliation from Islamists.
In short, Pakistan treats its Ahmaddiya Muslims and other minorities in a similar way to how Nazi Germany treated Jews and gypsies. Today Ahmaddiya Muslims have to fight State-sponsored discrimination and persecution. They also have to put up with the abuse, threats and violence from Muslims of other sects.
While the Pakistani State has been busy persecuting Ahmaddiya Muslims, it has also been busy protecting Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws from any criticism or change. The blasphemy laws play a huge role in the persecution of Pakistani minorities where these laws are often misused. Between 1986 and 2007, Pakistani authorities charged 647 people with blasphemy offences. Fifty percent of these were non-Muslims, who represent only 3% of Pakistan's population. No judicial execution for blasphemy has ever occurred in Pakistan, but 20 of those charged were murdered. By 2010, the total number of people charged under these laws had grown to about 1,274. The most recent case of blasphemy occurred in Karachi where a Christian man was mercilessly slaughtered by a fellow Muslim worker for allegedly blaspheming against Islam's Prophet.
The situation for Christians is just as bad. The most recent case of violence against Christians in Pakistan happened at 11:30am on Sunday, 22nd September when twin suicide blasts outside a 130-year-old Anglican church left 81 dead and over 100 injured. Many victims were children and women. Pope Francis called it an act of hate. Pakistan quickly declined into a three day mourning period when two of the biggest secular political parties MQM and ANP joined the call for mourning. Protests also erupted in different parts of Pakistan against the attack on the Church.
But all this will do nothing to help improve the situation of minorities in Pakistan where the government is desperate to engage in 'peace talks' with the barbaric Taliban, despite public outrage. The Pakistani media routinely uses racist and derogatory language for Pakistani minorities. After the bombing of the church in Peshawar, a Pakistani channel ended up calling Christians 'street sweepers'. The news channel's Twitter account later tweeted an explanation but didn't apologise. Hindus, Shi'ite Muslims and Sikhs also face more or less similar levels of persecution in Pakistan simply on the basis of their religion.
The 22nd of September was a big day for Islamists. The weekend was one of the deadliest as Islamists attacked three different places at different times and managed to kill a glowing number of infidels. From Nairobi to Peshawar to Baghdad, Islamists slaughtered left and right people they deemed undesirable. In Nairobi, Muslims were escorted to safety during an attack by Islamist terrorists, leaving non-Muslims to be targeted. One non-Muslim was asked the name of Prophet Muhammad’s mother. He didn’t know the answer and received a free bullet in the head. And you thought shopping was boring?
The situation in Pakistan is only a small reminder of a far bigger threat the world faces today: Islamist terrorism. Those who tiptoe around the reality of Islamic fanaticism and blame Western imperialism and drone strikes for Islamist terror are part of the problem, not part of the solution. It's time for the world to wake up and face the reality - which it has to face sooner or later.
Christian community in Pakistan protest in streets after a church attacked by suicide bombers in Peshawar left scores dead.