Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hate Speech, Our actions and Inactions

Today, I came across couple of pictures on twitter which was a clear enough evidence of how minorities are treated in Pakistan. The first picture tweeted by Beena Sarwar, a veteran Pakistani journalist, captured a banner displayed outside Lahore High Court with the slogan “Jews, Christians and Ahmedis are enemies of Islam”. The second picture, tweeted by Shahid Saeed, was of a billboard with the logo of Auqaf Department Punjab, stating “Friendship with Ahmedis is a revolt against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)”. This kind of provocative banners and billboards perpetuate nothing but sheer hatred against minorities such as Ahmedis.

We have already witnessed the resultant effect of this hate speech on May 28th, in a massacre of two worship places of Ahmedis, which killed at least 100 civilians and left many injured. Ironically, despite such a massive bloodshed of a minority community, the reluctance of the Government of Punjab to order removal of all such provocative banners is outrageous. Rather, Government of Punjab is allowing Auqaf Department to continue sponsoring provocative billboards to win support and avoid wrath of religious parties. By doing so, Punjab government is not only neglecting its constitutional responsibility of protecting minorities but it is also fanning hate speech against Ahmedis. Should not it be called a ‘state sponsored terrorism” against Ahmedis community?

Similarly, there are our so called leaders of religious parties who have been campaigning against Ahmedis for so many years. Recently, these religious leaders have condemned the attacks on Ahmedis but they have also declared  these attacks as a western ‘conspiracy’ to build pressure on Pakistan to amend blasphemy laws, to do more for the US led war on terror and to create justification for a possible attack on southern Punjab. It is pertinent to note that these religious parties have been infusing people’s minds with such ‘conspiracy theories’ since ages. Subsequently, what they have accomplished is support from masses to spread the hate speech and also religious bigotry.

But leaders of religious parties did not limit themselves by highlighting the so called conspiracies, some of them pronounced blanket statements on minorities protection. For instance, the attention-grabbing statement by Syed Munawar Hassan, Ameer Jaamat-i-Islami, also surfaced in the media, who said that “minorities are secure in Pakistan”. Such statement seems inane if we look at the history of persecution, indiscrimination, intimidation and gross atrocities faced not only by Ahmedis but also other minorities such as Christians. Pakistan’s treatment of minorities has been called ‘worse’ time and again by the Human Rights Watch and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. There are innumerable examples of gross atrocities committed against monitories in our country. For instance, Gojra massacre, May 28th carnage etc. Similarly, displaying anti-Ahmedis banners and hoardings at public places and the inaction of our provincial government is a reflection for us to acknowledge that minorities are neither respected nor secure in Pakistan.

How many people protested against and condemned the May 28th massacre on Ahmedis’ community? Well, there were only 40 people who turned-up at Islamabad press club to attend the protest and same goes with other cities of Pakistan. On the contrary, on May 31, country wide protests were arranged in Pakistan to condemn Israel’s attack on a flotilla of aid ships going to Gaza. Does not this attitude elucidate our double standards? We are in a state of denial and live with our own prejudices. We are intolerant toward minorities (whether Ahmedis, Christians or Hindus); we disrespect them and deny their fundamental rights. We don’t reflect upon our own actions and inactions and blame others for hatching conspiracies against us.  


Hashriani said...

I so totally agree. This is the best we can do and this is all we can do and by "we" I mean most of the homo sapien population.


amit_the_englitned said...

tell this to mr Riaz Haq. also
he is deliberatly bringing and accusing every people of other religion present or known to pakistan.
such hate mongers are the real cause why pakistan is always seen in bad light.

Anonymous said...

Profanity should not be mistaken for getting the point across.

Anger towards Mullahs or any other religious group is only adding fuel to the fire.

Our lack of understanding the other's point of view and why that opinion was formed in the first place should not be the basis of our dismissal of their beliefs.

What would be the difference between us and those who do not have the patience to listen and understand. Civilizations excel when there is dialogue. We as Pakistanis need to intermingle and engage in conversations with 3 very important prerequisites. Agree to disagree and conversations/discussions require extensive reading and patience and lastly let the other person finish his sentence and approach the conversation/discussion/debate with open mind and not bias.

Good Luck

Sukhdeepak said...

Look at India. A minority Muslim holds second highest post and Minority Sikh is a Prime Minister.