Countless incidents of target killings, blasts and violence attacks on Imam Bargahs, Majalis and Shia communities can tell us that a person’s faith can determine the kinds of interactions he or she will have with the society—and how likely it is that he or she will survive the encounter. At this point, this reality is largely beyond debate. Yet the topic of Shia Genocide (unarmed Shia people being killed by the religious fanatics of banned outfits) at wildly disproportionate rates is often dubbed “controversial,” and is framed as an issue about which reasonable people can disagree. It’s not.
Many characterize the dilemma as the result of a lack of faith in “one nation” or “one ummah” thing; others call it a conspiracy against the country and involvement of some third hand. That obscures the problem.
The term “Shia Genocide,” which has been used to draw attention to the problem, has inspired its own pushback, with critics suggesting to call the victims just Pakistanis or Muslims. That’s hugely confusing mainly because when people thriving on sectarian hate and violence make public statements about Shias being infidel and their followers tweet hate speech and distribute literature saying “kill Shia infidels” and wall chalk the same slogans, you just can’t call these killings random.
But any sincere confusion about what the #ShiaGenocide social media campaign means should end with the news of the circumstances of 13-year-old Faraz’s death in Dar-e-Abbas Imambargah, Karachi , yesterday (to say nothing of the recent Hazara incident where 4 women were killed after being identified as Shia).
According to the news reports, Sharifabad police officials said that unknown suspects riding a motorcycle threw an improvised explosive device (IED) at the Imambargah, causing several injuries to persons. The injured include women and children who were coming out of the Imambargah after attending a majlis.
I can’t understand why anyone should not be able to see that this was horribly wrong. The fact that it happened, that those responsible may never be held responsible, and that it hasn’t led to national consensus of horror and outrage paints a clear, simple picture of the reality that people are protesting against when they call it Shia Genocide.
This attack and the last Hazara attack, the latest in a long, long string of never ending cases, stands out. Because of the specific circumstances, they show us a tragedy that even people who hold deeply misguided beliefs about Shias or intense loyalty to “one-ummah” should be able to see as such. There are no distractions. Those who can’t identify genocide in this latest textbook example of how this sectarian bias can lead to merciless death probably won’t see it anywhere.
13 year old Faraz’s death proves that you can get killed just for being a Shia; while doing absolutely nothing wrong.
Keep in mind that these people were doing no harm to anyone. They were just attending a majlis (a religious ceremony). They were unarmed innocent peace loving people. Majority of the victims were women and children and their only crime was being an easy target for the killers.
Everything leads to the conclusion that there was nothing they could have done differently to avoid this fate. It’s a sick and distressing reminder that sect and beliefs determines a person’s likelihood of being killed and even mourned.
You don’t have to be a Shia to imagine the terror people feel knowing that their faith means there’s a chance they will end up dead without even committing any crime. Imagine living in a constant dread of losing your loved ones just because of your faith. Or worse, imagine people celebrating and justifying the death of your friends and family and not only denying your loss but questioning your patriotism and your loyalty towards your country and deen when you tweet on #ShiaGenocide.
Sectarian bias isn’t necessarily about how a person views himself (righteous) in terms of beliefs, but how he views others (infidels) in terms of beliefs. Being a Pakistani, I’m well aware of this lack of regard for the tragedies that befall Shia community. While it’s worth noting that the groups that have protested against sectarian violence in recent years have been extremely diverse, there’s a huge unity when it comes to how people see the problem of calling these killings genocide.
The lack of compassion from my countrymen adds another layer of pain to the distress caused by the deaths themselves. Faraz’s unfortunate death, and the response to it, is just the another clear and cold reminder that we’re still not united against injustice, terrorism and sectarian violence. Like a friend once said: