Stories about religious minorities

Be pro-Gaza, not anti-Jew

Repeat after me: “All Jews are not extremists.” “All Jews do not hate Palestine.” “All Jews do not want to eradicate Muslim identity.” Each “Jew joke” you share with your Whatsapp friends’ group insults the religious sentiments of at least 13,854,800 people in the world. Each ‘gas-the-Jews’ holocaust meme you forward reduces the inhuman slaughter of 11 million innocent people killed in one of the worst genocides in human history, to a derogatory laugh. The persecution of innocent people in Gaza is the direct result of a horrible territorial conflict. It has very little to do with the teachings of Judaism or Islam ...

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This is not what Jinnah wanted for Pakistan

On August 11, 1947, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave a speech at the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan where he mentioned that in this country, there will be no discrimination based on religious grounds. “We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle, that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State… You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place ...

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I will not celebrate August 14

August 14, 2009 I decided not to celebrate August 14th this year to show my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the nine innocent Christian citizens of Gojra, who were killed and their homes lit on fire. On this day, I will hang the Pakistani flag at half mast, will switch off my television, have none of those ‘milli naghmay’ and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and deeply distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to apologise and express my grief, pain and sorrow. August 14, 2010 94 people were killed and more than 120 injured when the places of ...

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Do Shias have a future in Pakistan?

How this could be possible? I shook my head in disbelief. “Ibn-e-Raza has been shot dead!” the voice reiterated itself. How someone can be so cruel, so vicious? In state of disbelief I stood up, changed my clothes and sat in my car. My mother, sitting next to me, was continuously crying. “He was such a nice boy, he was…” She was crying so hard that words seemed to have disappeared from her mouth. I rolled my window down and took a deep breath as a slight wave of wind touched my hair. My mind was gripped with an ocean of thoughts and memories. I remembered when he last ...

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A plea to India

Being a Pakistani with ties to India has put me in some difficult positions. For years I have tried to remove misconceptions and disprove stagnant theories on both side of the border. One thing that I had to talk about at length was the freedoms and societal positions of minorities in each country. Most of the people I interacted with did not have first-hand experience and would base their arguments on ‘official’ texts and school curriculum, which were heavily slated against the side. It’s a different situation now; the media is more open than it was in my teenage years ...

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Can Pakistan ban alcohol for non-Muslims? Not ethically!

As the nation slides down the slippery slope of prohibition, progressives entrench their nails into its icy surface, resisting the imposition of Islamic dicta on the state’s non-Muslim subjects. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights stated its opposition to the proposal to impose a complete nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages, revoking the exemption provided to non-Muslims in Pakistan. It is a restriction Pakistan’s ultra-right political parties have long pushed for. JUI-F MNA, Maulana Shirani, has been particularly vocal in this regard. The proposition implies a constitutional amendment, which has faced a welcome amount of resistance from the ...

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Not every Hindu or Muslim is an extremist, Mr Nayyar

This piece has been written with reference to senior Indian journalist Mr Kuldip Nayar’s article ‘Communal Politics and India’s election’ in this newspaper. As a humanist, I genuinely wish Pakistan the very best in the context of development and I have cited some pieces by liberal Pakistani intellectuals and made some statements about Pakistan in this article only in the spirit of constructive criticism. While I deeply respect Mr Nayar and share his commitment to India’s pluralistic ethos, and I have written a book aimed at addressing and dispelling anti-Muslim prejudices in the Indian context, and have written articles critical of Narendra Modi and the BJP, I ...

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Every Jew is not a Muslim foe!

At the very outset of this blog, I would appeal to the readers to be open-minded. To label, without any basis, all Jews outspoken in favour of tolerance to Muslims or vice versa, of having some hidden agenda or being sponsored by vested interests, is similar to a non-Muslim making such a generalisation for all tolerant Muslims. Being an Indian Hindu, writing on this topic, I ought to clarify that I am far from being an Islamophobe, nor am I an uncritical admirer of the Israeli state. I have written this article only out of a commitment to world peace. Some say that ...

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Do we need madrassas in Pakistan?

Pakistan has undoubtedly become a difficult place to live in with death penalties for the weakest of the weak while terrorists and thugs are acquitted and walk free.  It is quite true that those who believe in absurdities are the ones who commit atrocities. Blasphemy or what ‘they’ term blasphemous is one such absurd idea that provides the basis for committing atrocious acts in Pakistan. The death sentence given to a young Christian man, Sawan Masih, is a great example of such an atrocity committed in the name of ‘blasphemy’ under Pakistan’s rigorous blasphemy law. Sawan Masih, a cleaner, was arrested last year in March in ...

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Sawan Masih: Another injustice in the name of justice!

It appears that the public would rather Sawan jaey, than Sawan aaey. Sawan Masih, 26-years-old, a poor cleaner and the father of two, was arrested last year for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks during an argument.  He protested his innocence saying that there was a property dispute concealed under the accusation of blasphemy but to no avail. Sawan and his family lived in Lahore’s Joseph Colony with other Christian families, clustered together for safety. Unfortunately, the numbers on ‘the other side’ were far greater. When the above event occurred, a mob composed of some 3,000 people attacked Joseph Colony for several days, forcing the inhabitants to leave. When this mob destroyed a hundred ...

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