Discrimination it seems is a bitter and unpleasant reality of every day life in the land of the pure. Every day whenever so many of us wake up to the morning paper, or log onto news websites or social media, we are routinely bombarded by news and information with respect to discrimination and abuse that Pakistanis are facing in some way or the other. Tales of discrimination faced by religious minorities and sectarian minorities (the smaller sects in the Muslim community) has become fairly common in Pakistan.
It all starts with discrimination before it leads to scenarios that are far worse, and those that initiate a form of discrimination feel no kind of remorse for their actions. Many of those practicing discrimination on religious grounds think it is a justified practice since it is their responsibility as those that have accepted the right path to bring others to their fold, using hard or soft tactics. Religious minorities and minority Islamic sects are not the only ones who face a fair degree of discrimination, even among the followers of the dominant Sunni Islam sect, the non practicing Muslims or those that identify themselves as not-religious face a great deal of discrimination and harassment in some form of the other.
I have previously written about how many employers across Pakistan in Pakistani companies discriminate employees based on their religious affiliation of whether they practice or not. Companies have been known to avoid recruiting religious minorities and Muslims from minority sects, this practice is far too common and has gone on to include even non practicing Sunni Muslims. Non practicing Sunni Muslims face discrimination and marginalization at work from such employers, they are often overlooked for career opportunities, and often face harassment or poor behavior and performance reviews based on solely on their so called lack of religiousness.
It just confirms that religious Sunni Muslims who have picked up on some Wahabi influence and are some what right leaning finding the idea very unbearable that there are other Sunni Muslims out there who are not full fledged practitioners or as religious as them, in fact they are even at discomfort when other Sunni Muslims do not share the exact same sentiments as them, which in some cases are very xenophobic and intolerant in nature. Recently I was messaged on Facebook by a former Math teacher of mine from school with insulting messages, I am guessing inspired by the nature of my activities on Facebook. I can only assume the latest thing that might have incited him was probably my Facebook status where I condemned the decision of the Pakistan Telecom Authority to temporarily block the micro blogging website Twitter from Pakistani Servers for alleged blasphemous content circulating online. These religious nut jobs in the past have advocated for bans on Facebook, YouTube and Blogspot also.
He accused me of being too westernized in my orientation and accused me of being some one who is ashamed of being a Muslim. His message included accusations of me trying to be 'Caucasian' and he openly said to me that he prays that I get kicked around and mistreated by Europeans so that I might see their true colours and then will proudly embrace my Muslim heritage. He kept implying that Europeans/Caucasians are on a mission of sorts to mistreat us purely because of our faith and sooner or later we will all get what is coming to us. He was not the first of his kind, and will certainly not be the last, as due to the content of my Facebook activities I have also been subjected to death threats by a religious person in the past, who argued it was justified to his 'ishq-e-Sunnat-e-Rasool' sentiments. I also see this as a failure in our society as a whole to recognize human individuality that establishes that all of us are unique individuals that differ from one another, it establishes the failure of our society to allow people to live outside of compulsory group cohesion. Those that show a diversity of views, attitudes, opinions are shown a great deal of intolerance as if it is a crime to have an individual identity as well.
People such as these will always be there in big numbers and that too for many many years to come, if we can't silence them, the least we can do is stand up to bullying, discrimination and harassment from the right leaning religious people. They are not worthy of our compassion, their not worthy of being overlooked again and again. There is risk involved, in some cases even our lives might be at stake for speaking up, but voices need to be raised before its too late, we have the biggest thing going in our favour, Islam itself which is a religion of peace and the fact that our Creator, the Almighty has given us the greatest gift of Freedom of thought, it is because of this very Freedom of thought that there is no compulsion in Religion.