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Category Archives: Discrimination

Kalash falls to Kalash–nikov


An honest answer to one simple question about your identity as a Pakistani or a Muslim explains the roots of extremism and an increasing intolerance among this society. I was asked this question many years ago, and my answer was not logical rather an abrupt and sudden gush of emotions. I said I am a Muslim first. The later years have weakened or killed that emotion and today I would like to answer in a different way.

The white patch in Pakistan’s flag which seems evaporating now, determines the answer. We are Pakistani first is a simple answer to this white patch. The difference in views of majority is stark. Majority now dreams of a homeland only for Muslims and the survival for rest depends on their submission to majority’s religion.

A few months ago, my friend Saad Sarfraz Sheikh, went to Kalash, a beautiful valley in the northwest of Pakistan, to capture its exotic beauty and rich culture. A tiny tribe of total 4,500 people, which cannot be a considerate share of the total 180 million Pakistanis, is about to be nonexistent. He returned with breathtaking pictures, but seemed perturbed. In the middle of the Kalash fairytale, he mentioned his visit to a school which did not have pupils for some unknown and known reasons. The school’s timetable shows a class of Islamic studies for the students who do not believe in Islam. How would Muslims feel if they are forced to attend a class on Christianity? In my view, they will be marching on roads, burning tyres and property, and calling it a threat to Islam and a Jewish conspiracy against Muslims. My friend mentioned that how tremendously Kalash has changed due to the extremist elements forcing the people to convert to Islam. Some radical Muslims, bound to spread Islam by force, began building mosques in the valley for Kalashis, who claim descent from Alexander the Great’s army.

The valley runs along the border ofAfghanistanand for centuries, they sacrificed animals and practiced polytheism without any interference from the Muslim community.

So what has changed now? The youth of this country, mainly inspired by Jihad against then Soviet Union, have grown up brandishing radicalized version of Islam. The concept of coexistence is at stake in this country, which has minimized the chances of survival for our minorities. Now the question arises that can all flee from this country in sheer despair and frustration? Will this country have space only for a particular sect of Islam? But we need to ask ourselves if we are humans or Pakistanis first or Muslims later? If the answer is Pakistanis first, I see hope.

Reuters Story:

Nestled among the valleys of Pakistan’s mountainous northwest, a tiny religious community that claims descent from Alexander the Great’s army is under increasing pressure from radicals bent on converting them to Islam.

The Kalash , who number just about 3,500 in Pakistan’s population of 180 million, are spread over three valleys along the border with Afghanistan. For centuries they practiced polytheism and animal sacrifice without interference from members of Pakistan’s Muslim majority.

But now they are under increasing danger from proselytising Muslim militants just across the border, and a hardline interpretation of Islam creeping through mainstream society — as Pook Shireen discovered.

After falling unconscious during a car accident , the mid-20s member of the paramilitary Chitral Scouts woke to find that people with him had converted him to Islam.

“Some of the Muslim people here try to influence the Kalash or encourage them by reading certain verses to them from the Koran,” said his mother, Shingerai Bibi.

“The men that were with him read verses of the Koran and then when he woke up they said to him, ‘You are a convert now to Islam’. So he converted.”

The conversion was a shock for his family. But they were lucky compared with other religious minorities under threat from growing religious conservatism that is destabilizing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

In May 2010, more than 80 Ahmadis, a minority who consider themselves Muslims but are regarded by Pakistan as non-Muslim, were killed in attacks on two mosques in Lahore.

Then in March this year, the Christian minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose job it was to protect groups like the Kalash, was assassinated outside his home in the capital, Islamabad, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

SMOOTH CO-EXISTENCE

The lush green Kalash valleys, which sit below snow-capped peaks of the Hindu Kush, have been a magnet for tourists, both for the scenery and for the people, who are indigenous to the area.

Most are fair and with light eyes, which they say proves their descent from the army of Alexander of Macedonia that passed through the area in the 4th century BC to invade India. The community brews its own wine and women are not veiled.

But the smooth co-existence between the Kalash and Muslims has been fading in recent months and the area is suffering from many of the religious tensions marring the rest of Pakistan.

The conversions are causing splits among the Kalash — converts become outcasts overnight, described by many as “dead to their families”.

“When a Kalash converts we don’t live with them in our houses anymore,” said farmer Asil Khan, sitting on a neighbor’s balcony.

“Our festivals and our culture are different. They can’t take part in the festivals or the way we live.”

Some in the area are so concerned that they believe segregation is the only way to protect the Kalash.

“We should move the Muslims out of the valley to make more room for the Kalash,” said Shohor Gul, a Kalash member of the border police who lives in Rumbur valley. “This area should be just for us. We dislike these conversions – it disturbs our culture and our festivals, and it reduces our numbers.”

The subject of Kalash festivals is raised often in these narrow valleys, where carefully cultivated corn crops cover what flat land exists, and the Kalash community’s distinctive wooden houses terrace the valley walls.

Held to usher in seasonal change or to pray for a good harvest, Kalash festivals include hypnotic dancing and animal sacrifice, fueled by the grape wine with which the Kalash lace their gatherings.

Converts to Islam say, though, that these rituals quicken the decision to leave the Kalash.

“The main thing wrong in the Kalash culture are these festivals,” said 29-year-old convert Rehmat Zar. “When someone dies the body is kept in that house for three days.”

Muslims usually bury people the day they die.

Zar added of the Kalash: “They slaughter up to a hundred goats and the family are mourning – but those around them are celebrating, beating drums, drinking wine and dancing. Why are they celebrating this? That’s wrong.”

NOT ALL MUSLIMS

Not all of the area’s Muslims feel this way.

Qari Barhatullah is the imam, or priest, at the Jami Masjid in Bumboret valley’s Shikanandeh village.

He stresses that many of the valley’s Muslims value the Kalash’s contributions to the area’s tourism industry and contends that Kalash festivals run parallel to their own.

He admits though that there is tension between the two communities. Unveiled Kalash girls in colorful homemade skirts and head-dresses grow up alongside Muslim women covered by the all-enveloping burqas.

The Kalash girls are also free to marry who they chose, in a country where arranged marriages are common.

“We do support the Kalash – Islam teaches us respect for other religions – but there are people here, maybe they are not as educated – who don’t like the Kalash because of their religion,” Barhatullah said.

Akram Hussain oversees the Kalasha Dur, a cultural center devoted to promoting and protecting the Kalash culture, a stunning structure of elegantly crafted carved wooden beams and stone where Kalash children are educated. It also houses a library, clinic and museum, which are open to both the Kalash and Muslim communities.

“Some of the Muslims here don’t want to educate the Kalash people. They don’t want us to have an education,” he said.

Without more schools that cater exclusively to the Kalash, though, Hussain worries his community and culture will be disappear.

“There are few Kalash teachers and there aren’t schools for older children, so they go to the secondary schools and learn about Islam. The Muslim teachers are brainwashing them. They tell the children that Islam is the only right way and that we are going to hell,” he said.

A provincial spokesman said the regional government is funding development projects for the Kalash and that Pakistan was committed to protecting their unique heritage.

“We have set aside 15 million rupees ($173,210) over three years for projects such as improving roads, water supply systems and community centers,” said Ahmad Hassan. “Whatever the Kalash say they need.”

Others in the Kalash valleys though say development should cease and insist the adoption of Islam should continue, despite the impact on the Kalash culture.

Rehmat Zar, the Kalash convert, says his eventual aim is to convert his entire community to Islam.

“I’m trying my best to convert many of the Kalash myself. I’m trying to convert as many as I can,” he said.

“The people who are trying to preserve the Kalash culture are doing wrong. They are committing a mistake. The Kalash should convert to Islam because this is the real, and last, religion”. ($1 = 86.600 Pakistani rupees)

 

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Boycott Aamir Liaquat


Dear all, and especially Aamir Liaquat Husain’s fans,

Stop being deceived by Aamir Liaquat

The following video of your “very own” Liaquat bhai is not just an eye opener, rather a slap in the face. When Islam came in this world amidst of all gods and goddesses, then the followers broke them in search of one Allah. It was their unwritten promise with themselves that no idol will ever be worshipped. But we again chose the path leading to making more gods. Is it the time when we should remove their masks and break them? Aamir Liaquat Husain is one of them who is now finally exposed to his followers.

Now everyone should loathe those eyes which were glued to watching Liaquat Husain. The honey-tongued Liaquat Husain called you “behen” when his mind was smitten with rape scenes. Bollywood and all villains charm him and without remembering their names, it seems Liaquat Husain cannot focus on his programmes.  Vulgar slangs and abuses appeared as a “warm out session” for Liaquat Husain to start a programme based on Quran, Sunna and personal religious issues of people. In this clip, you will find him laughing at a phone call in which a woman asks the status of suicide if a girl commits it to avoid rape.  He blasted into laughers and ridiculed the maulvi who was answering the question.

I do not find any difference between the language of Liaquat or a pimp and that, too, in an Islamic country. Your Creator—God—is there and will take your hand to drag you out of misery. Through people like Liaquat, every road takes you to rubbish, immorality, and dirt, but not to Allah…Break those idols which Muslims have dared breaking 1400 years ago.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2011 in Blasphemy, Discrimination, Hate Speech, Rape

 

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Some Christians denied aid unless they convert to Islam


I need to ask one question to all the Muslims including those who are living here in Pakistan. Do you ask a hungry person before offering him food that is he a Muslim or not? And in case if he turns out to be a non Muslim, do you refuse to feed him? Please do not bother to give me this answer rather tell this to yourself. Self accountability often leads to realisation and then it helps in repairing the damage your actions have done. The story below is not new to us, in fact, since floods hit Pakistan such stories have started emerging.

What is the greatest sin our minorities have committed which has rewarded them with this discriminated and miserable life in this country, I have failed to understand. A Christian is as affected by the flood and deserves same amount of attention, help and food as a Muslim does. What we do not understand here that sufferings and disasters have a strange potential to remove the differences boundaries, cultures and religions create. In such situations, the status could just be one–a human being who is either an affectee or a victim, nothing else.

God knows which religion we keep on referring when it comes on giving aid to Christians with the money of Zakat. It looks to me a perfect excuse to justify bias and prejudice. If any Muslim has hesititation in spending Zakat money on Christians then one could always spend the money which is not Zakat. When there is a will there is a way.

We must realise that it is hard to hide such violations in this information age and the world is taking note of every gesture you convey as a nation. Nothing you can do in isolation anymore and every actions bears some consequences.

Below is the Story:

The head of an organization that combats anti-Christian persecution charges that some Pakistani Christian families are being denied flood aid unless they convert to Islam.

“Some Christian refugees are openly denied aid, while others are told to leave or convert to Islam,” said Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “You can imagine that terrible choice: either you abandon your faith or you cannot feed your child.”

The Fides news agency has collected testimony from several Christians who have been denied aid:

  • “We were overcome by waters and we lost everything,” said Zubair Masih. “We went to a refugee camp near Thatta, but they did not allow us to enter because we are Christians.”
  • “My wife is sick, but the doctor refused to visit her and treat her, saying that we should wait for the World Health Organization to send Christian doctors,” said Abid Masih.
  • “I arrived with my family at a camp near Hyderabad, but the camp administration refused to register us because we are Christians and they did not give us anything,” said Aamir Gill. “We were forced to leave.”
  • A Pakistani bishop said that the Church, in contrast, does not discriminate in assisting the victims of the worst flooding in the nation’s history.

    “The tireless work of Caritas continues in all directions, in every diocese and without discrimination on the recipients,” said Bishop Max John Rodrigues of Hyderabad. “In the diocese, we help everyone. Many religious and Catholic volunteers are working in the area. I see a lot of solidarity: Muslims, Christians, and Hindus are united in suffering.

    “As far as the aid brought by Islamic charity groups, they defend themselves by saying that according to their doctrine, the money from the zakhat (Islamic alms) should go only to Muslims,” he added. “We should keep in mind that in this country there is a general discrimination against minorities and the poorest workers. It is a widespread mentality which can also affect this tragedy. The fact that the rich are better off than the poor, having saved their own land, is a serious matter which the government must address.”

    Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

     
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    Posted by on September 9, 2010 in Christians, Discrimination

     

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    A Christian teacher faces systematic discrimination at work, support the appeal..


    Dear friends,

    The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information
    regarding the systematic discrimination faced by a Christian teacher
    in Lahore. After being repeatedly abused allegedly by her principal,
    she was dismissed without valid ground or lawful compensation. Her
    case is another example of the discriminatory treatment that members
    of religious minorities – and Christians in particular – receive
    in Pakistan.

    CASE NARRATIVE:

    Ms. Julia Austin, 32, comes from an educated Christian family of
    Lahore and studied Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. She has
    been teaching mathematics for 11 years and has been employed at Bahria
    Town School, a private educational institute in Lahore since February
    1, 2007. On June 22, 2010, she was dismissed by her principal, Ms.
    Naghmana Ambreen.

    Ms. Ambreen, a Muslim woman allegedly known for her hatred for
    Christians, repeatedly abused Ms. Austin since 2007. In addition to a
    humiliating treatment, notably in front of her students, Ms. Austin
    suffered an unjustified downgrading. During a change in the
    administration of the school that lasted 5 months and made Mr Javed
    Nisar principal, Ms. Austin obtained a senior grade and was made head
    of the mathematics department, in reward to her valuable work. As soon
    as Ms. Ambreen managed to come back at the head of the school, she
    downgraded Ms. Austin and continued her abuses. Other members of the
    staff who supported Ms. Austin were also discriminated against or
    dismissed by her principal Ms. Ambreen.

    On several occasions, Ms. Ambreen showed violent and heinous
    behaviour. In mid-2009, after a disagreement with Ms. Nasreen, a
    janitor of the school, she allegedly allowed some men to abuse her and
    beat her up in front of the school premises.

    She also showed religious intolerance. During the change in
    administration, the new principal invited a pastor to come and speak
    about Christianity and integration of minority religions in Pakistani
    society. She advocated against such “un-Islamic” behaviour and had
    the principal dismissed. She moreover hired a man, whose qualification
    as a teacher is highly questionable. Instead of teaching mathematics,
    the man allegedly spreads sectarian teachings and calls the young
    students for jihad.

    On June 22, 2010, Ms. Austin was called in the principal’s office
    and was dismissed without warning. Ms. Ambreen pretended that Ms.
    Austin’s results at the annual examination were not sufficient and
    that she did not properly prepare her classes. However, the results
    published by Agha Khan Examination Board show that Ms. Austin’s
    students obtained the highest scores of the school.

    In addition to this lack of valid grounds for her dismissal, the
    normal procedure was not respected. Indeed, according to the
    teachers’ contract, one can be dismissed only after three warning
    letters have been issued. Ms. Austin did not receive any and there
    would be no reason for her to receive one. Moreover, if a contract is
    terminated, the employee must receive the equivalent of a two-month
    salary. Ms. Austin did not receive any compensation and was further
    denied her full salary, to which the principal deducted more than Rs.
    7,000 for days that Ms. Austin supposedly took off. This is completely
    illegal, notably as Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays
    recognised by the government.

    In view of this injustice, Ms. Austin tried to complain to the school
    authorities and to ask for a proper inquiry to be conducted into her
    dismissal. However, no one among the school direction would listen to
    her or accept her complaint. The AHRC contacted a colleague of Ms.
    Austin, who asked for her identity not to be disclosed and who
    confirmed that Ms. Austin was very badly treated by her principal and
    the school authorities and that she was systematically discriminated
    against because she is Christian.

    Ms. Austin is now having a hard time finding another teaching job, as
    Christians suffer from religion-based discrimination. She is asking
    for justice and reparation. She is moreover concerned for her
    students, who are left with incompetent teachers, preaching religious
    hatred and intolerance.

    In addition, she does not dare filing an official complaint for fear
    of the severe repercussion it might trigger from the Muslim majority
    not only against her, but also against the entire Christian community.

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

    Members of religious minorities are regularly assaulted, tortured or
    murdered and their property and place of worship are ransacked and
    desecrated. The blasphemy laws understand blasphemy only as an offence
    against Islam and are used by a criminal nexus between the police, the
    administration and religious fundamentalists to intimidate Christians,
    Ahmadis and all religious minorities in Pakistan.

    The month of July is marked by the killings of two Christian brothers
    in July and the anniversary of the Gojra incident during which a
    Muslim mob attacked the Christian community after two men were accused
    of blasphemy against Islam. Seventy houses were set on fire and seven
    Christians, including four women and two children were torched alive.
    In this context, no room can be left for religious intolerance.

    The Pakistan Constitution states that all citizens are equal before
    the law. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
    further guarantees equality and freedom of religion and expression. As
    a signatory of this convention, Pakistan must take strong measures to
    put an end to the systematic discrimination faced by religious
    minorities. Everyone must remember Jinnah’s speech to the first
    Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947:

    “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has
    nothing to do with the business of the State … We are starting with
    this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens and equal
    citizens of one State”.

    SUGGESTED ACTION:

    Please write to the authorities to urge them to restore justice for
    Ms. Austin. She must be reintegrated in the school she was illegally
    dismissed from and must receive compensation for the difficulties she
    suffered. An investigation must be launched against Ms. Naghmana
    Ambreen, principal of Bahria Town School, Lahore regarding her
    discriminating and violent behaviour.

    The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on
    freedom of religion or belief.

    To support this appeal, please click here:
    <http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-113-2010>

    SAMPLE LETTER:

    Dear __________,

    PAKISTAN: A Christian teacher suffers from systematic discrimination
    at work

    Name of victim: Julia Austin, 32, resident of Lahore

    Names of alleged perpetrators: Ms. Naghmana Ambreen, principal of
    Bahria Town School, Lahore

    Date of incident: June 22, 2010

    Place of incident: Bahria Town School, Lahore

    I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the case of Ms. Julia
    Austin, a teacher in Lahore, who suffered systematic discrimination at
    work because of her religious belief. She has been teaching
    mathematics for 11 years and has been employed at Bahria Town School,
    Lahore since February 1, 2007. On June 22, 2010, she was dismissed by
    her principal, Ms. Naghmana Ambreen.

    I hear that Ms. Ambreen, a Muslim woman known for her hatred for
    Christians, repeatedly abused Ms. Austin since 2007. In addition to a
    humiliating treatment, notably in front of her students, Ms. Austin
    suffered an unjustified downgrading. During a change in the
    administration of the school that lasted 5 months and made Mr Javed
    Nisar principal, Ms. Austin obtained a senior grade and was made head
    of the mathematics department, in reward to her valuable work. As soon
    as Ms. Ambreen managed to come back at the head of the school, she
    downgraded Ms. Austin and continued her abuses. Other members of the
    staff who supported Ms. Austin were also discriminated against or
    dismissed by Ms. Ambreen.

    I am shocked to know that on several occasions, Ms. Ambreen showed
    violent and heinous behaviour. After a disagreement with Ms. Nasreen,
    a janitor of the school, she allegedly allowed some men to abuse her
    and beat her up in front of the school premises.

    She also showed religious intolerance. During the change in
    administration, the new principal invited a pastor to come and speak
    about Christianity and integration of minority religions in Pakistani
    society. She advocated against such “un-Islamic” behaviour and had
    the principal dismissed. She moreover hired a man, whose qualification
    as a teacher is highly questionable. Instead of teaching mathematics,
    the man allegedly preaches Islam and jihad to the young students.

    On June 22, 2010, Ms. Austin was called in the principal’s office
    and was dismissed without warning. Ms. Ambreen pretended that Ms.
    Austin’s results at the annual examination were not sufficient and
    that she did not properly prepare her classes. However, according to
    my information, the results published by Agha Khan Examination Board
    show that Ms. Austin’s students obtained the highest scores of the
    school.

    In addition to this lack of valid grounds for her dismissal, the
    normal procedure was not respected. Indeed, according to the
    teachers’ contract, one can be dismissed only after three warning
    letters have been issued. Ms. Austin did not receive any and there
    would be no reason for her to receive one. Moreover, if a contract is
    terminated, the employee must receive the equivalent of a two-month
    salary. Ms. Austin did not receive any compensation and was further
    denied her full salary, to which the principal deducted more than
    7,000 Rs for days that Ms. Austin supposedly took off. This is
    completely illegal, notably as Good Friday and Easter Monday are
    public holidays recognised by the government.

    Ms. Austin is now having a hard time finding another teaching job, as
    Christians suffer from religion-based discrimination. She is asking
    for justice and reparation. She is moreover concerned for her
    students, who are left with incompetent teachers, preaching religious
    hatred and intolerance.

    Please take immediate measures to restore justice for Ms. Austin. She
    must be reintegrated in the school she was illegally dismissed from
    and must receive compensation for the difficulties she suffered. An
    investigation must be launched against Ms. Naghmana Ambreen, principal
    of Bahria Town School, Lahore regarding her discriminating and violent
    behaviour.

    Yours sincerely,

    —————-

    PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

    1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari

    President of Pakistan

    President’s Secretariat

    Islamabad

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: 92-51-9207458

    Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk
    <mailto:publicmail@president.gov.pk>

    Phone: +92 51 9204801 9214171

    2. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani

    Federal Minister for Human Rights

    Ministry of Human Rights

    Old US Aid building

    Ata Turk Avenue

    G-5, Islamabad

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: +9251 9204108

    Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com <mailto:sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com>

    3. Mr. Salman Taseer

    Governor of Punjab

    Governor House

    Mall Road

    Lahore

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: +92 42 99203044

    Email: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk
    <mailto:governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk>

    4. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab

    Punjab Secretariat

    Lahore

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: +92 42 7324489

    E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk <mailto:chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk>

    5. Minister of Law

    Government of Punjab

    Punjab Secretariat

    Ravi Road

    Lahore

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: +92 42 99212004

    E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk <mailto:law@punjab.gov.pk>

    6. Dr. Faqir Hussain

    Registrar

    Supreme Court of Pakistan

    Constitution Avenue, Islamabad

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: + 92 51 9213452

    E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk <mailto:mail@supremecourt.gov.pk>

    7. Mr. Tariq Saleem

    Inspector-General of Police, Punjab

    Police Head Office, Lahore, Punjab province

    PAKISTAN

    Fax: +92 42 99210064

    Thank you.

     
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    Posted by on August 2, 2010 in Christians, Discrimination

     

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