Will Pakistan ever truly accept its Christian community?
I cringe every time I hear the word “minority.” It is true that religiously we are different from Christians, but must we create a social difference too? Minority stands for ‘few’ and the way the term is implied it says ‘with lesser power’. If you find nothing wrong with calling someone “less than” then go ahead and play your part towards fuelling intolerance.
The twin church blast in Lahore caused 14 Christian deaths and around 80 people were injured. An Islamic extremist claimed 14 lives and injured 80 innocent worshippers at a church. Amid the blood, destruction and havoc, the panicky mob lynched two bystanders when one of them was shouting,
“Tum logon ke saath har roz yeh hona chahiye.”
(This should happen to you people every day)
We have forgotten about the 14 who were martyred at the hands of Islamic extremists and here we are, attending to the one that was perhaps wrongly killed by a fearful mob.
Later that day, I came across a blog on The Express Tribune, titled ‘Our way or the high way: Vigilante justice for Lahore Church Blast’, and pondered upon the author’s words. She wrote,
“The vulnerable, the helpless, those who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong appearance; they are the ones deemed as the culprits, the accused, the condemned and, eventually, they are the unheard – under this law of the jungle.”
If your brothers and sisters are lying dead all around you, covered in blood and pain, it is likely that you will act irrationally. No Christian I know would want to do that but I would not be surprised if fear brought out the worst in them.
Together, the media and the nation have ridiculed the Christian community. Only The Express Tribune published photos of the Christian victims of terrorism, reminding people of the smiling faces that died because of extremism, hatred and bigotry.
On Twitter, the hashtag #WeStandWithMinorites began trending, but was commonly followed by an insult or a threat to the Christians of Pakistan.
— Nazrana Yousufzai (@NazranaYusufzai) March 16, 2015
— NN (@amarbail1) March 16, 2015
Worst of all, we saw hashtags like #ChristianTerrorism and #WeSupportPunjabPolice. Do not forget that this is the same Punjab Police that failed to provide protection to the church. The same Punjab Police that stood there and did little when the mob burnt a Christian couple in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan. The same Punjab police that can offer us no protection because they cannot protect their own police lines, as we saw at the Gujjar Singh Police lines last month.
The situation took a grotesque turn when things became uncontrollably savage. Buses were attacked, cars were stoned and the flag of the Islamic Republic was set aflame.
— PMLNTrends (@pmlntrends) March 16, 2015
Stop them by hook or by crook. #WeSupportPunjabPolice"
— Sikandar Kiyani (@sikandarkiani) March 16, 2015
— Sani Raza Khanani (@SaniRaza) March 18, 2015
— Muhammadi Sms Club (@muhammadismsclb) March 16, 2015
It is said that about 4,000 people took to the streets, demolishing public property. Christians and Muslims managed to inflict a lot of damage. Large crowds of violent protestors were seen near Youhanabad, and pictures show that they were pulling down the name “Youhanabad” from the gate.
Besides all the violence, Forman Christian College was open to display a show of solidarity against acts of terrorism. A friend from Forman Christian College told me how people ambushed them by throwing stones at their car when she went to drop her mother to Youhanabad. She said she was consumed by fear her when she heard people shouting,
“Ab nahin choreingey inko.”
(We will not leave them now.)
These gestures and tweets tell us that we never really accepted the Christian community. They will never be a part of Pakistan, because obviously Pakistan ka matlab kya (what does Pakistan mean)?
Let us look beyond religions.
Our government has failed us and this democracy is nothing but a farce. The most basic things – our lives – are not protected. We are all equally vulnerable despite what religion we subscribe to. No churches, no temples and no mosques are safe.
Our schools and our children are not safe. We are citizens of Pakistan, so where then is our fundamental right to life?
Must our humanity be tested this brutally all the time?
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.