Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Whatever happened to live and let live?

I know its been a long while since I have posted anything of substance in a long time.  In my defense, I do have some valid reasons:
1) I was busy writing up my thesis and preparing for my thesis defense. In case you were wondering, I passed.
2) I was also looking for a PhD position. I have made some significant progress in this regard.
3) After writing my thesis in two weeks, including last minute data analysis three hours before my thesis exam (yes, you read that correctly) I wanted to get away from writing for a bit.
4) I wasn't sure what I could contribute to the discussion on "Memogate" (other than the fact that we need to come up with a better label. I prefer "Haqqani Leaks") or Imran Khan's "tsunami" in Karachi (because nothing says reform like a tidal wave causing mass death and destruction) that Ahsan, CafePyala, Kalsoom Lakhani, Tazeen have not. I only participate in discussion when I feel that I have something useful to add.

The reason for this post, following my prolonged absence from blogging is this headline (first spotted by Ahsan):

RAWALPINDI: Complying with the demands of the locals, the police on Friday barred Ahmadis from entering their worship centre in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi.

I'm well aware of that Pakistan in general has an abominable record with religious minorities, but this headline takes things to a whole new level. Apparently the local population of Satellite Town were not fans of the Ahmadi mosque (NOT worship centre), so they decided to prevent Ahmadi Muslims from using this space for prayers by demonstrating outside the mosque. About 700 protesters congregated outside this mosque, alleging that unconstitutional activities were taking place inside. As a result, the police prevented Ahmadis from entering their own mosque to attend religious services.  The community of Satellite Town, Rawalpindi has decided that this mosque can only be used as a residence and not for religious purposes.

Imagine if citizens of a town in a US, Canada or Europe had decided (through consensus) that the Muslims living in their community were no longer allowed to use their mosque for religious purposes. The majority of Pakistani newspapers would be running this story on the front page. Op-ed columns would be accusing "the West" of racism and discrimination against Muslims. Certain talk show hosts (ahem...Zaid Hamid) would hold such an incident up as further evidence of Western Nations as enemies of Islam.

But this hasn't happened to Muslims in "the West". It has happened to Muslims in Pakistan. Muslims who are constitutionally considered as heretics simply because they do not ascribe to the same theological perspective as the rest of us. There are no front page headlines, no op-ed columns and no talk shows dedicated to this injustice. An increasingly beleaguered minority has come under attack once again, yet we choose to remain silent.