Islamophobia– Our Gravest Problem!
Only when we thought Osama was rotting in his grave and the West had started accepting us again, Islamophobia struck West again. After the Charlie Hebdo killings of 7th January, the Denmark shooting of 14th February and the public flogging of a Raif Al-Badawi, a liberal blogger of Saudi Arabia, the West found grounds to fear Islam again. Time and again we see articles in the news media about how the West is turning cynical and alienating the 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.
You might believe that some Twitter giants are conspiring against Islam, I for one do not think the likes of Sam Harris, Pamela Geller and Richard Dawkins are propagating Islamophobia in the West. I believe that Muslims have taken care of that themselves. Muslims of Pakistan, the Muslims of Afghanistan and Muslims everywhere have done enough to deserve hatred. Muslims around the world have killed enough innocent children, attacked enough schools, burned enough Christian villages, kidnapped enough Christians and mutilated enough journalists, shunned enough scientific laws and flogged enough bloggers for free-thinking to deserve this acrimony all around the world. Heck, I don’t even think that Islamophobia is a problem in the West alone. It is our problem too.
Some of us are bent on a version of Islam that is peaceful, a version that promotes brotherhood and peace. Unfortunately, that version of Islam is only found in books now.
In all the labelling and stereotyping, and generalizing all Muslims as fundamentalists, the West refuses to see us as victims. Whenever there is an article on Islamophobia, we are the culprits when in fact we are the real sufferers.
The fact of the matter is that the Islamophobia of the Muslim countries is hardly ever talked about. Pakistanis live under the fear of religion too, the real terror of religion is in our face. Our mosques, churches, temples are not safe. Converting to another religion is not an easy possibility, even questioning religion is inconceivable for us. Pakistan is not fit to live in, definitely not for the minorities and not for Muslims either.
Roughly two months ago, on the 16th of December last year, 134 innocent children were butchered in a school in Peshawar. And now, there are snipers hidden in the buildings of almost all the big schools in the country. Mothers of Pakistan deserve awards for gallantry because they gather strength every single day and send their children to schools.
Since the Peshawar Attack, the leaders of the nation have united for their fight against terrorism. The country is supposed to be combating terrorism but on the 17th of February a suicide attack killed 5, in the middle of the day, right outside the Gujjar Singh Police Lines. A reminder to the civilians that even the guards of the city are not safe anymore. In times like these, even Muslims are Islamophobic.
In recent news, we have heard much about Imambargahs blown to pieces, the hatred against Shias is in the air nowadays. Forty three people were killed in the Shikarpur suicide blast on an imambargah on the 30th of January. In Peshawar, another twenty people were murdered in an imambargah attack. And another one on the 18th of February killed around five people in Islamabad.
Religious extremists have established that no other form of religion is welcome in Pakistan. Christians and Hindus of Pakistan are out of question, the extremists of this land are far from accepting another sect of their own religion here. All of this has turned us Islamophobic.
As if the news headlines did not contribute enough to our Islamophobia, our universities are not free from the influence of religion either. Jamiat Tul’ba-e-Islam (JTI), the student wing of the political, religious party Jamaat-e-Islaami still dominates the University of the Punajb. Their horrors engulf university students, administration and even university professors. They have shot students and assualted professors several times on the university grounds. In fact, you can often spot them carrying batons and canes, trampling the grounds in groups.
The civil society protests in despair and Abdul Aziz still roams free. No political leader can guarantee his arrest. This country is not in the hands of the political leaders, the police or the army. They can offer us no protection, no safeguard of rights and no freedom of speech. This country has fallen into the hands of the extremists and they decide our fate. They kill whoever and whenever.
Pakistan is a religious dictatorship and Islamophobia is not only a problem in the West, it is our gravest problem at the moment.
If you want to reason about Islamophobia and ways to contain it, start with home. We need it more than anybody! We are in a state of war and if there is any fear, any phobia, in the world right now, it is in our hearts.