WRITTEN BY FARAN J, AAI NEWS TEAM
For many of us it’s really difficult to believe that it’s 2014 and yet today we still hear about people killing other people because of religious differences. Fundamentalist extremism has become so embedded in some societies that many people living in these societies have stopped resisting fundamentalist extremists. Nowadays dozens of people dying in a bomb attack only raises a few eyebrows. Most of this violence is currently happening in many Muslim majority countries, like it is happening here in Pakistan. Pakistan is an Islamic Republic and the only nuclear Muslim State 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.
State persecution: A Pakistani policeman removing the Islamic Shahada from the gravestone of an Ahmadi Muslim.
Things have been pretty bad for Pakistan’s minorities since the beginning but the recent rise of fundamentalist extremism and the Talibanization of the country has raised the level of threat against minorities to the highest level. It isn’t be wrong to say that this is the most dangerous time for Pakistan’s minorities in the Islamic Republic's 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 adetailed 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 alist of all terror-related violence in 2014 in Pakistan.
But haven’t Shiites and Sunnis hated each other since the early days of Islam and aren’t they fighting against each other in other counties too? Well, wait till you hear the rest. Ahmadi Muslims are outlawed under the Pakistani constitution and cannot identify as Muslims. An Ahmadi Muslim can face death for simplyreading the Quran oridentifying 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 too. Ahmadi Muslims are seen as undesirables, unworthy of same respect as everyone else. It should be noted here 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 mostrecent incident of violence against Ahmadi Muslims happened in the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad on 28th March 2014 when a mother and her son were brutally stabbed to death for the crime of being Ahmadi Muslims.
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 faceforced 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 March 15, 2014,a large crowd of Pakistani Muslims burnt a Hindu templeand a dharmashala in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan, after unverified allegations of a Hindu youth desecrating a copy of the Quran. On 28th March, 2014three masked men set a Hindu temple on firein Pakistan’s Sindh province.
An angry Muslim crowd set fire to a Hindu community centre 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 newreport. On 27th March 2014 a Pakistani courtsentencedChristian 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 mobburnedhis entire Christian neighborhood consisting of over 100 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 over 100 Christian houses. This is justice Pakistani style.
As Pakistan tramples on human rights and abuses the rights of its citizens, the UN has been reluctant to call out Pakistan on its shameful record of human rights violations. Although many human rights bodies have condemned therights abuses in Pakistanand 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.