There’s a lot of anger right now about how some idiots in the US are behaving. Opposition to a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks; a Christian church in Florida’s plans to go burn copies of the Holy Quran – their attitudes reek of anti-Islamic ignorance and bigotry. But do we show the same tolerance and respect to others that we demand?
The controversy over the mosque in New York City is ridiculous. There’s already a mosque in the area, in addition to over 30 other mosques in the city. While we have several beautiful Christian churches in Pakistan (I have always thought Hall Road Church in Lahore quite beautiful), when was the last time you ever heard someone complain about the laws of Saudia Arabia that prohibit church building?
Also, did you know that the plans to build the mosque were approved by New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Jew?
The ongoing dispute in New York is another reminder of how civilised societies treat those citizens who do not subscribe to the majority faith. Much to his credit, New York’s Mayor Bloomberg (a Jew, by the way) approved the project, despite opposition from right-wing groups.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan we see deadly attacks against Christians, Ahmadis, Sufis, Shias, etc. And while this might make for exciting news coverage for a day or two while we cluck our tongues and shake our heads at the shame of it all, we move on quickly to what is more important to us – has Asif Zardari bought any flats lately? What is Imran Khan wearing today?
Likewise for this disgusting controversy of burning Qurans. The US Embassy in Islamabad has called the Florida church’s plans “disrespectful, intolerant and divisive” and condemned the threat, as has the US Ambassador to the United Nations.
But after nine Christians in Gojra were killed and more than 120 homes destroyed, nothing was done to punish anyone. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that Christians in the area still fear for their safety.
Where is the outcry from our own officials about the treatment of minorities? People are quick to condemn and quick to forget. We are more concerned with protecting the fragile egos of our cricket players than the fragile lives of our brothers from another faith.
We want idiots in America to be punished for being idiots, but we ignore the idiots under our very noses. We act outraged when some idiot in America shows disrespect for our religion, but we turn our heads and look away when minorities in our own country are slaughtered in their churches and mosques.
Just like we love to accuse American delegations of every crime imaginable, but cry foul when we are treated with the same suspicion, there is something about the national dialogue that always follows the pattern: Follow what I say, not what I do!