Why is there a religion column in advertisements for sweepers anyway?

Published: March 24, 2017

At least Imran Khan should have said something about the religion columns in advertisements like this one.

Whenever a local body like a municipal or town committee advertises for jobs involving ‘dirty work’ (like sweeping floors or cleaning bathrooms), the religion of those applying for the job is also specified. And the advertisement usually mentions that the applicants should be Christians or Hindus (Dalits). Though why sweepers and cleaners have to be non-Muslims is not clear. Who does the dirty work in countries where there are few, or no, Christians or Hindus (like Saudi Arabia for instance)?

One such advertisement went viral recently. But this time the advertisement stated that applicants for the job should be “Shia, Hindu/Balmikis or Christians”. The advertisers obviously thought that Shias are non-Muslims. And they are not alone. The new generation of Deobandi Sunnis has been brainwashed into believing that anyone who doesn’t share their religious belief (like Shias and Barelvis) are not Muslims and one should stay away from them. Our mullahs of course have been responsible for this polarisation. I sometimes come across youngsters who think it is perfectly okay to kill those who (in their opinion) are heretics.

I did not expect Nawaz Sharif, or any other political leader, to take notice of such things. They are too set in their ways and too involved in enriching themselves to try and change the mind-set of people. But at least Imran Khan should have said something about the religion columns in advertisements like this one. He did not do so; in fact he blamed another religious party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), his political opponents for it, as the Bannu Tehsil is controlled by JUI-F members.

Imran tweeted,

This revealed how disconnected he is from reality. First of all, he did not decry the fact that Shias were labelled non-Muslims in the advertisement. Secondly it’s not only people like JUI-F members who think that Shias are heretics. What about Imran’s own allies in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government? The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), without whose support Imran’s party would never survive in the province, is composed of die-hard fanatics who also believe that they are the true Muslims and all those who do not share their beliefs are non-Muslims.

Imran should have made clear that as far as he is concerned Shias are also Muslims, but he did not do so. He should also realise that unless something is done, the next time such an advertisement appears, it is likely to include Barelvis in the religion column also.

Even though I dislike Imran’s way of doing politics, I would like to give him some advice which will benefit him. First of all, he should instruct all local bodies in his province to remove the religion column in advertisements for sweepers. Secondly, he should go all out and ensure that the minds of children in schools and madrassas are not poisoned and they are not taught to hate those who are different from them.

In particular, Imran should loudly proclaim that Shias and Barelvis are Muslims and all schools in his province should teach this to children. After all, his allies have successfully removed pictures of women and animals from all school textbooks, so it should not be difficult for him to insert chapters in school books to preach love and tolerance for all humans. I know that his allies will try to resist with all their might, but he should persevere. If he succeeds, he could become as popular as the late Abdul Sattar Edhi.

Go ahead, Imran Khan, do it!

Shakir Lakhani

Shakir Lakhani

Engineer, former visiting lecturer at NED Engineering College, industrialist, associated with petroleum/chemical industries for many years. Loves writing, and (in the opinion of most of those who know him), mentally unbalanced. He tweets @shakirlakhani (twitter.com/shakirlakhani)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Dr Maqsood K Aslam

    1stly, having a box for religion is not an issue at all. It is present in almost all application forms around the world. One of the main reasons for that is data collection to understand the percentage representation of different ethnicities and religions in different employments. Making a specific religion as mandatory requirement for a job (unless a religious job) is another thing and unacceptable. 2ndly, IK has very clearly commented in his remark on promoting disrespect and hatred amongst “different sects and religions”. There is a limited number of characters to go in a tweet and I think he covered the issue reasonably well.Recommend

  • gameplanner

    and you talk about minorities in India ! LOLRecommend

  • Phantom

    And somehow…its Imran Khan’s fault again…hilarious.

    Also, the author, a man living a life of privilege, fails to point out, that sunnis are there on the poverty line as well. These sunnis are looking for jobs and this advertisement is denying them a job based on religious profiling.Recommend

  • Dr.Patwari [Ph.D. MD. MBBS]

    Religion box is NOT present in all application
    forms around the world.Have you be filling applications everywhere?
    Say Borneo, Surinam, Ghana, Nepal…etc. Chad….?
    In Pakland and Hinduland,… maybe yes.Recommend

  • Rahul

    It is common knowledge that the only jobs available to Pakistani Hindus and Christians is sweepers and toilet cleaners. It must be shocking to Shias that they are now in the same category. Not to worry, once the Wahhabis and Deobandis are in the ruling seat, this advertisement will include Barelvis and Sufis. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, only the true Muslim can rule!Recommend

  • Rohan

    The author makes a detailed case for Shias but not for Hindus and christians Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    Do not worry. Soon we will create same conditions in India where Muslims will find difficult under the watch of Modi. Already they are not welcome in residential societies, jobs etc. Recommend

  • Yogi Berra

    The why don’t you take this job?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Christians also supported creation of Pakistan. 100% dalits voted for Pakistan, so what is the problem?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    The West should take note of this discrimination and make sure that jobs like cleaning toilets are only to be filled by Muslims in the West!

  • Wasim

    Please don’t use the word dirty work…Recommend

  • Indian Christian

    Thank you Jinnah for giving us a separate country called……India.Recommend

  • Sane

    India existed since hundreds of years. Jinnah did not give you any country, but Muslims fought to have a separate country for them with by cutting India under leadership of M.A. Jinnah (Quaid e Azam). Muslims succeeded to have India divided. The process of Indian land division is going on. Next is Kashmir………Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    In the west low level and dirty jobs are done by Blacks, Mexicans and Hindus.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    And in India a mass murderer is the PM.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    They are all in India clean the filth of the Brahmin.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul


  • Ghazi Gul

    In the United States there is, especially for Muslims. They will also be forced to wear identification badges.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    In US and UK, Yes.Recommend

  • Ghazi Gul

    That is so already. Muslims are not allowed to buy property or rent homes. If meat is found in their fridge then they are killed on the spot.Recommend

  • sallu

    what the is Shia hindu? plz explainRecommend