Religious Intolerance

The recent attacks in Lahore bring to light the daily terror that ordinary Pakistanis live with, under siege by their fellow countrymen for failure to adhere to the established religious status quo. These extremists from the Sunni majority in Pakistan has tried to hold all other groups in the state to its moral code, subjugating Islamic sects such as the Sunnis, Ahmadis and Ismailis to their interpretation of the Quran.

Don’t get me wrong: If the majority of people of Pakistan believe that Sharia law should be carried out in their country, then so be it. The issue is not with legal codes but rather that a law abiding citizen who is not a Muslim is seen as being a traitor to the state nonetheless.

What annoys me is the fact that though Pakistan was created as a country for the Muslims of the subcontinent, it was never truly intended to be a Muslim country. It was to protect the religious rights of Muslims that Pakistan was created and now as a majority, there is the very same persecution perpetuated by the people who Pakistan was intended to protect (wow, so much alliteration, but it makes my point). For example, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and the first Governor-General (now President), was known for his smoking and drinking- two very decidedly non-Muslim habits.

And even if a country has a national religion, it is not a license to persecute and kill innocent civilians under the guise of faith. The freedom to religion, as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is so vital because it governs both the actions of an individual as well as their views on the world. Being persecuted for what you believe is not only abominable but its also highly ineffective. Ideas have a way of gaining momentum when forced into a corner.

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