Stories about sectarian viol;ence

Perhaps Pakistan can learn from Austria’s madrassas

A year before a mosque in Kanpur (pre-partition India) was razed by our British overlords to pave way for a road, and while a Jinnah-less Muslim League was yet to overhaul its objectives – which until then asserted that ‘the party shall work towards manifesting a sense of loyalty to Britain’ – to work towards creation of a Muslim majority state (Pakistan was still a very distant idea), Austria passed a remarkably inclusive law, setting an example for the rest of the European countries. In 1912, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph passed an act guaranteeing its small minority of Muslims royal patronage by making Islam ...

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It is not just the West, Islamophobia is on the rise in Pakistan too

Only when we thought Osama bin Laden was rotting in his grave and the West had started accepting us for our faith, Islamophobia struck again.  After the Charlie Hebdo attack of January 7th, the Denmark shootings of February 14th and the public flogging of Raef Badawi, a liberal blogger of Saudi Arabia, the West found grounds to fear Islam again. We see articles in the news about how the West is becoming cynical and alienating Muslims, and how a parking space issue can turn into a homicide because almost everybody in the West is either afraid of Muslims or angry at them. Like Mr Kashif Chaudhry, you too might believe that some Twitter ...

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This is NOT sectarian violence, it is Shia genocide

Another imambargah attacked in Islamabad leaving several Shias dead and injured. In the last two weeks, this is the third such incident, fourth overall in 2015 and it is only February. This is only the latest attack in a long line of attacks that have taken place. From 2001 to now, thousands of Shias have been killed in terrorist attacks across Pakistan. Through it all, governments continued to tolerate extremist groups and even gave them space in mainstream politics. The pace of these frightening attacks has picked up. One would have thought that the regular attacks would have pricked social conscience into recognising the on-going Shia genocide, ...

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Six (of many other) ‘wrong numbers’ that Pakistan keeps dialling

Many in Pakistan have taken Aamir Khan’s PK as a lampoon only for Hindus and brushed it aside as just that blissfully ignoring the very blatant message the movie tried to give to followers of all religions. In my opinion, this movie was most relatable to our side of the border than any other place. The only real difference between what the film portrayed and what happens here is that when we bring up such questions we are killed. Simple. But if you give the message in the movie a little more thought, you will realise that most of what happens in ...

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Playing god in the land of the pure

People everywhere look for answers in stark black and white, and love the comfort that gives them the ability to use it as a club against others. For some reason, people keep recreating the very issues in their religions that the founders of those religions sought to eradicate. True spirituality should bring complete humbleness and love. What is common to all of us is how we struggle for an authentic faith without taking refuge in the absolute; that, to my mind, is the classic source of apostasy. There is nothing I ever read about Islam that didn’t pertain equally to other religions’ ...

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Why Pakistan must learn to celebrate Christmas

As December approaches, crazy sales, decorations and preparations flood countries across the world. Hot chocolate, family dinners and wish list presents are the top priorities of everyone. However, it’s not like that in Pakistan. In fact, this year the whole of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) won’t be celebrating Christmas as freely as they had hoped. Instead of celebrating the most holy and festive occasion of the year for them, they will be mourning the tragic massacre of innocent school-going children in Peshawar. This time, our Christian brothers and sisters have volunteered to tone down Christmas celebrations. However, if you think about it, Christmas has never really been a big ...

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The Pakistani dream: A kingdom in heaven

On 16-12-14 the Taliban struck at the very heart of Pakistan. They plucked our children one by one while we watched in a catatonic fix, struck by disbelief that the enemy had entered our homes. But why the surprise when they have been rapping at our doors? We remained deaf, blissfully unaware. In June earlier this year, the Global Coalition for the Protection of Education Against Attack pointed out nearly 800 such incidents at educational institutions in Pakistan from 2009 to 2012. A grenade explosion at a government high school in Bannu took place in November, preceded by the bombing of a school bus in Khurrum Agency that claimed ...

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Celebrate Christmas, Pakistan!

This is arguably my most favourite time of the year. The spirit of Christmas brings joy, hope and brings about a pleasant change in people’s outlook. There’s positive energy in the air and everyone seems to be optimistic, passionate and blessed. We, in the United States, have had a tough 2014. Things haven’t been all that great. Gun violence, race-centric crimes, rising debt, foreign policy misadventures, terrorism, wars, and worst of all, a Republican victory in the mid-term elections have marred the proceedings and tainted our morale. But, this is a resilient nation. It has seen the worst and the darkest of times. When ...

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Is Pakistan heading towards anarchy?

On Monday, November 10, the students and professors of Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) held a candlelight vigil, organised by the SZABIST Law Society, in memory of Sajid Masih and Shama Bibi, a Christian couple who were accused of blasphemy and their bodies burnt in a brick kiln in the rural area of Punjab. Photo: Fatima Ansari More than a hundred law students gathered in front of their campus holding candles, chanting slogans like “give justice to Sajid and Shama” and “say no to terrorism,” among many others. The crowd swelled, as more students who were unaware ...

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Muslim denominations: Are you Shia or Sunni?

It started quite early. I was seven-years-old. That’s when I first realised that there was something called a “Shia”, and people thought I was one; because in Pakistan, certain surnames are associated with being a Shia. ‘Zaidi’, one of them, sounds similar to the surname ‘Zahidi’, so I was and am often asked this question – “are you a Shia?”. So I came home and asked my father, to which Abba replied in a very matter-of-factly that by faith, Shias and Sunnis are both Muslims. He explained to me that it’s like two brothers from the same family, we all love Prophet ...

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