Stories about religious freedom

Dear Pakistan and India, stop trying to convert your minorities

My attention was recently drawn to a news story according to which non-Muslim employees of Mian Mir hospital in Lahore are forced to recite verses from the Holy Quran daily at the morning assembly. The news further stated that those who refused to do so were penalised by being marked absent for the day (and thereby losing a day’s wages). If true, this is indeed shocking news. Once a non-Muslim says the words of the Kalima, he or she automatically is converted to Islam, and cannot go back to his or her original religion. It goes without saying that such men or women cannot continue ...

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An American Muslim veteran reflects on resisting the Muslim Ban

I am an American Muslim veteran. I was raised in America, and I joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while in college. I followed in the footsteps of generations of men in my family who have served proudly and with distinctions in the military. Many of my family members served in the Pakistani military and were immensely proud of me when I commissioned for the US Air Force. Loyalty to one’s country and respect for the armed forces is a part of my family’s heritage. Upon joining the military, I was proud to fight under the flag of ...

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The mantle of religious interpretation needs to be taken away from the clergy

I have often been more amazed not at the religious fanaticism of the few, but at passivity of the moderate majority. And although sceptics will cast their doubt, the fact is that Pakistan on the whole has a moderate population. In Pakistan, comparable fervour is dominant only in pockets. Yes, this is a country which has Taliban but it is also a country where people have largely voted for moderate parties. This is a country which despite being conservative has never voted the clergy into power. It has a relatively independent media and entertainment avenues are more eclectic compared to ...

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They chose to ‘mourn’ a murderer by storming Parliament and destroying public property

The last megalomaniac, who stood outside parliament in an attempt to take down the government, showed he still has a shred of compassion for his countrymen when he gave up his campaign in the face of a horrible terrorist attack committed by a religion-inspired group of sadists. On Sunday, hours after the same group of sadists murdered more of our brethren, like-minded people descended on Islamabad. But unlike their politician predecessor, these people have shown they are not here for blood. Their charter of demands literally calls for killing people. And between the lines, it calls for purging innocent people who disagree with their desire to retreat to ...

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Changing the perception of Islam in the world is a Muslim’s responsibility

Ever since the Paris attack on November  13, 2015, and mass shooting in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015, that left 14 people dead, there is growing antagonism against the Muslim community in the United Sates leading to increase in hate crimes like arson and vandalism at mosques, targeting hijab wearing women causing insecurity among the Muslim communities. Sadly, even the Sikhs have not been spared for they have often been mistaken to be representing radical Islamic elements. Many of the gurdwaras have been desecrated and many Sikhs had to bear the brunt of racist attacks. The politicians, especially ...

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Eid at Rama Pir’s Festival: A weekend of qurbaani meat, prasad and religious harmony

Tando Allahyar, a district tucked away in interior Sindh, had a very curious Eidul Azha this year. On the night of September 24th, while cows and goats sheepishly awaited slaughter in the narrow galis (streets), the Rama Pir ground was alive with the sounds of bells and chants. I visit Tando Allahyar every year to celebrate Eid with my family. When I was young, I used to be able to go out on the streets without a care in the world. Now that I’m older, I can’t leave the house without a distinct purpose and a chaadar wrapped around my body. When my ...

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#IStandWithIndianMuslims: Indian police detain ‘Muslim’ lambs on Eidul Azha

In international conferences on human rights, India likes to claim it is all for freedom of religion and equal rights. When countered on social media with respect to its minorities, right-wing Indians become defensive, claiming they treat their minorities all too well and it is the Indian Muslims who like to whine for nothing. “This country exists in the name of Hinduism and Muslims should accept their second-class status here. What’s the big deal? Can’t Muslims be thankful we gave them a home?” said one of the country’s leading Hindu cleric Pundit Srinath Ramkumar, echoing the sentiment of the right-wing Hindus. India ...

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China can mistreat Muslims, but others can’t?

Since childhood, we have grown up listening, reading and watching the tales of Pak-China friendship. We were told that Pak-China friendship is ‘sweeter than the sweetest honey’, higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the seas. We were continuously reminded that Israel, USA and India are enemies of Pakistan, Islam and Muslims and they would take any step to extinguish Muslims from the face of earth. Our curriculum, television channels, newspapers and mullahs propagated the same at every occasion. Every other day, we witness rallies and protests condemning these countries for their treatment of Muslims. If an Indian, US or Israeli somehow slaps a ...

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Why should Obama apologise for Pakistani drone victims?

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, United States President Barack Obama, apologised for the accidental killing of two western hostages – American national Warren Weinsteain and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto – in a drone attack in Pakistan. “As president and as commander-in-chief, I take full responsibility for all our counter-terrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government, I offer our deepest apologies to the families.” What did happen, though? In a drone strike targeting an al Qaeda camp, the two aforementioned hostages were killed. These innocent civilians ...

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As a constitutional kafir I ask, does my religious freedom hurt you this much?

Yesterday, a very close family friend – someone I have always considered an uncle – was arrested in Pakistan. His crime: he had printed verses from the Holy Quran in an Urdu publication. My uncle is an Ahmadi, and under Pakistan’s notorious anti-Ahmadi laws, he committed a ‘crime’ punishable by at least three years imprisonment and a fine. The law states that an Ahmadi who “poses as a Muslim hurts the religious feelings of Muslims”. In the late 80s, three of my maternal uncles spent time behind bars under these same anti-Ahmadi laws for the crime of saying the Kalimah. Thousands of Ahmadis – and ...

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