2014 already looks like the worst year for Pakistani minorities

WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM

People are still killing in the name of religious differences and most of the violence occurs in Muslim-majority countries. Fundamentalist extremism has become so embedded in some of these countries that many people living in them have stopped resisting the fundamentalist extremists.

Currently, the only nuclear Muslim State is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where 96.4% of the population is Muslim (2013 estimates: Sunni 85-90%, Shia 10-15%), and the remaining 3.6% (2010 estimate) population includes Christians and Hindus. Since the beginning of the formation of Pakistan (1947), Pakistan’s minorities have been victimized but the rise of fundamentalist extremism and the Talibanization of the country has raised the level of threat against minorities to arguably its most dangerous level in history.

As 2014 started, it seemed that there was not a single minority in Pakistan that wasn’t under attack. There is the currently ongoing genocide of Shiite Muslims, where Sunni militants have killed hundreds and hundreds of Shiite Muslims. Here’s a detailed list of all the attacks on Shiite Muslims in Pakistan since 1963 to 2013 (note how attacks have spiked in recent years) and here’s a list of all terror-related violence in 2014 in Pakistan.

Moreover, Ahmadi Muslims are outlawed under the Pakistani constitution and cannot identify as Muslims. An Ahmadi Muslim can face death for simply reading the Quran or identifying as a Muslim. Bigotry against Ahmadi Muslims is normal in the Pakistani media and social media, and is considered acceptable by many educated Pakistani Muslims. Ahmadi Muslims are seen as undesirables, unworthy of respect. It should be noted that Ahmadi Muslims are thought to be one of the most peaceful Muslim sects in the entire world. But in Pakistan, they face an uncertain future. The most recent incident of violence against Ahmadi Muslims happened in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, on 28th March 2014, when a mother and her son were stabbed to death. Why? For being Ahmadi Muslims.

 

State persecution: A Pakistani policeman removing the Islamic Shahada from the gravestone of an Ahmadi Muslim.

Minorities within Islam are not the only ones suffering in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Hindus and Christians face similar fates under the constant threat from Islamists. Pakistani Hindus face forced conversions and non-stop dehumanization. As Pakistan was originally founded on the Hindu-Muslim divide and this divide was the core part of the argument used to justify the creation of Pakistan back in early 1940s, Pakistani Muslims see Hindus as their archenemy and for many, being Hindu is synonymous with being Indian. On 15th March 2014, a large crowd of Pakistani Muslims burnt a Hindu temple and a dharmashala in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, after unverified allegations of a Hindu youth desecrating a copy of the Quran. On 28th March 2014, three masked men set a Hindu temple on fire in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

An angry Muslim crowd set fire to a Hindu community center in Larkana. Here, beheaded statues of Hindu deities can be seen.

Pakistan currently leads the world in sentencing people, usually from minorities, for blasphemy according to a new report. On 27th March 2014, a Pakistani court sentenced Christian man Sawan Masih to death for blasphemy. Sawan Masih was arrested on 6th March 2013 and was accused of making blasphemous remarks during a conversation. Just two days after Sawan’s arrest, a Muslim mob burned his entire Christian neighborhood consisting of over one-hundred houses ‘in revenge of the blasphemy’. Put that into perspective: a Christian man arrested for a crime that he probably didn’t commit in the first place, his entire Christian neighborhood burned to the ground, and then given the death sentence – and no-one was arrested for burning the houses. This is justice Pakistani-style.

Action needs to be taken to rectify this pitiful situation, yet the United Nations has thus far been reluctant to demand that Pakistan stops its shameful record of human rights violations. Although many human rights bodies have condemned the rights abuses in Pakistan and have urged the Pakistani State to make sure that the rights of all minorities are protected, the pressure that is needed from the international community is missing.

Let us hope this is not the case for long. 

 

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