Religious discrimination: Plaguing the educated class

Published: September 18, 2014
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If education can’t set our impaired sense of ethics right, I don’t know what can.

My heart wept when a house in Gujranwala was set ablaze, in July this year, just because it belonged to an Ahmadi family. At the time, I attributed this wave of extreme religious attitudes across the country to the lack of education in most of its parts. I was successful in finding solace in the thought that once educated, our society would be able to traverse such petty differences and the majority would learn to live in harmony with the minorities.

On September 10, 2014, the day the society elections at IBA-Karachi took place, my utopian ideas were shattered. That day, I could see the future of Pakistan toppled in front of my eyes.

Elections became a ‘hot’ topic ever since the fall session commenced about three weeks ago and the campaigning kept gaining momentum each day; friends turned into foes and heated arguments sprouted all over the campus and on social media. However, no lines were crossed as these shenanigans are a part of the election process, be it any institution, entity or country.

For those who are not familiar with the IBA Student Council elections, all voters are supposed to vote for the student council along with any three IBA societies. For both the student council and the societies, there are usually two panels, labelled as red and blue panels.

As the day progressed, IBA students kept turning out to cast their votes for candidates who appealed most to them. Candidates and their supporters were seen trying to talk the voters into voting for the ‘righteous’ panel, which mostly constituted themselves or their friends.

Towards the second-half of the day, when emerging voting trends showed one side possibly losing for the post of the Student Council’s CFO  (Chief Financial Officer), IBA students  witnessed some of their friends play the card of religious discrimination to win the dirty game we call ‘politics’ for the sake of a less explicit word.

Momineen, mominon ko vote do.”

(Muslims, vote for Muslims.)

This was the slogan that hit the people standing in the vicinity and crumbled their conscience. Apparently, one of the two major candidate contesting for CFO was a Hindu and some of the so-called ‘Muslims’  from the opposing side tried to bring his religious affiliation to the front in a last attempt to cut down on his votes. Whereas this pathetic tactic did succeed in bringing a few people onto their side, it did them more harm than good as their unethical behaviour was out in the open.

Being an IBA student, I feel deeply saddened and indignant by this sheer act of immorality and religious discrimination by the people I come across on campus every day or even considered them as my friends at some point. Not only have they brought shame to a worldly reputable institution but have also misrepresented its students and Muslims on a whole as intolerant beings who are incapable of drawing a line between personal and political affairs.

To the ‘Muslim’ students of IBA who do not deserve to be called humans, let alone belong to any sacred faith anymore, I ask:  since when did credentials stop being independent of religious views?  Since when did you become so pious that you start picking on those who are not pious enough by your standards? Who gave you the right to be the representative of the Muslim community that you start voicing its false consensus?

If education can’t set our impaired sense of ethics right, I don’t know what can. It is horrifying to realise that some of the most educated minds of this country find it acceptable to resort to discrimination on religious grounds for a mere political win, despite knowing the number of people who have lost their lives to it.

Syeda Jaisha

Jaisha Syeda

A KL-YES alumna, pursuing a bi-major degree in Economics and Mathematics from Institute of Business Administration-Karachi. She tweets as @JaishaSyeda (twitter.com/JaishaSyeda)

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