When it comes to hate speeches, religious minorities are the second biggest target in Pakistan; Shias remaining the first, hands down. I woke up today to a picture of 2 year old Sana flooding my Facebook newsfeed. Those sharing her picture were trying to show their concern for a human life by calling YDA (young doctors association) Yahoodi (Jews) doctors association. The 2 year old Sana died yesterday because she was denied medical attention as the young doctors were on strike. Why were they on strike and are their demands a reason good enough to abandon their patients and ER is another debate. What made me write today is the way some people are trying to take it out by calling the doctors Yahoodi. As if being a Jew is a matter of shame or being called a Jew is a curse or abuse of some kind.
This display of hatred against a religious minority has become a cliché in our society. Hatred against individuals on the basis of religion is now taking various forms. Calling others Jew to shame them or disrespect them is just another form and the way this display of hatred is growing is alarming. Considering oneself superior to others because of race, sect, caste or religion is a legacy we Pakistanis are living with. And this legacy has now left us with a rather criminal mindset. This extremist mindset is the cause of hate towards religious minorities and it’s just a matter of time when the hate turns into bias and eventually leads to attacks and terrorism.
The nature and extent of attacks motivated by hate against religious minorities are influenced by a number of factors, including society, brought-up, basic education (syllabus) and the status of religion/s in a given territory. In the past few years, hate crime reports in Pakistan have indicated that graffiti and vandalism against worship areas and killing people in the name of blasphemy are some of the most common types of crimes motivated by the preached hate and bias against members of other religions.
According to a report education experts believe that the textbooks used in Pakistani schools include factual errors and are filled with hate content against non-Muslims which fuels the increasing levels of religious extremism and intolerance towards people with different faith in the society. Such biased material not only negatively impacts the minds of the majority Muslim students, but also harms the education and growth of non-Muslim students.
For a very long time I used to believe that all Hindus are bad and cruel people and Muslims can never trust Jews and Christians because it’s in their blood to deceive and therefore no one but a Muslim can be my friend. After some sessions with my family I realized that I just have to write all this in my exams to score good grades but I don’t have to believe it as the reality is otherwise. Imagine the amount of stress it can cause to a school going child.
In order to prevent our future generations from being a hypocrite or an extremist we need to contribute to a serious process of curriculum and textbook reform. We must help combat the growing levels of intolerance and violence towards religious minorities in our society. We have to do something to put a stop to this thinking before it is too late.