Jun 15, 2010 - published work, religion    19 Comments

A country only for fanatic men

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Back in 2002 when I was a rookie journalist, I met Jeewanti, a teenager who was doused with acid to avenge a property dispute with her family. She was the first person I met who has faced an act of violence against her. Unfortunately, I have met various people since then who have faced violence and brutality, be it Munno Bheel who is fighting to release his bonded family for over a decade or the peon in my former office who fled his home in Chitral because he was a Shia living in a Sunni village fearing persecution for his faith. One of my friends has lost her uncle, a surgeon, during the period when sectarian groups were targeting and killing Shia doctors in Karachi.

Every minority, be it ethnic, religious or sectarian, and weaker groups have faced violence and persecution in this country. If you are a religious minority in the land of pure, you have about as much of an opportunity of growth as a one-legged man in a kicking competition. Constitution bars you from holding the highest offices in the country. Your temples and churches are vandalized and you are not allowed to propagate your religion. You are lucky if you are a Christian or a Hindu, at least you can call your places of worship by their real names; if you happen to be an Ahmadi, you cannot even do that.

If you are a child, you probably are one of too many children in the family; your parents do not give you enough food and attention. There are not enough schools and even if they are, you parents cannot afford to send you and you are working to contribute to family income. At workplace you are probably abused. If you leave home, you will definitely be sexually abused and will probably end up using drugs. If you happen to end up in a radical madrassah, there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others.

If you are a sectarian minority, then you are on the hit list of all sectarian outfits. They can burn your houses and places of business if you are in Chitral or can shoot you from a distance of 2 meters in Karachi and get away with it. If you are an Ismaili Muslim, chances are the religious parties will try to get you declared a non Muslims when they can’t think of any other political issue to hijack.

If you are woman, you will be malnourished and uneducated to begin with. When you are a little older, you will probably be doused with acid, burned, tortured, married off to men of inappropriate age and character to pay off debts (vani), killed (karo kari) to either implicate or secure money from opponents of your family. You will be raped, at times even by the police and other security forces, to settle dispute and at times because men think they can get away with it. Your testimony in the court of law is that of half of a man, and your citizenships rights are limited.

The way things are in this country of ours; soon it will turn into a place where only rich right wing fanatic Sunni men would have any citizenship rights. If you are a religious Sunni man who is spewing venom against the minorities and women from the pulpits, you have an unassailable immunity. The way things are, the future migrations from the country would not be for economic reasons, they would be for liberty and freedom.

Originally written for Express Tribune. This is the unedited version.

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19 Comments

  • It’s really a sad state for the country. And minorities have always been persecuted there, be it Bengalis (then East Pakistanis) in ’71 or today the Baluchis or Ahmadis. I wonder why people who are supposedly “more religious” are often “more hateful”.

  • Hello Tazeen,

    My name is Murteza Haider and I produce The Morning Show for Express 24/7. Firstly i love your blog. Secondly we would like to have you on our show as a guest. You can check us out on The Morning Show with Huma Amir Shah on FB or follow us on TMSHuma@twitter. We’re on live at 800 am Monday to Friday and repeat the same days at 4pm and then later 1am.
    Do get back to me and let us know if you are interested.

    Best,
    Murteza Haider Aftab
    Producer
    Express 24/7

  • hey tazeen….

    i don’t know but why there are so many problems in few of the countries including India. Just don’t know why there is so much injustice.

    reading your comments find out that you got the offer to be the guest at the show….congratsss….i don’t whether this channel is available in India or not….but if you can, kindly post the video of this interview on you tube…

    thanks πŸ™‚ keep writing..

  • Tazeen.. there will always be injustice.. everywhere.. and the more the people, the higher the chance of getting away with being unjust to others. Sorry, but we do live in a rather screwed up world. πŸ™

  • Very well thought out.

  • sectarian violence against minority groups can be curtailed by:

    1. introducing legislation to ban incitement to religious hatred, i.e. no one should be allowed to stir up hatred or incite people to act violently against any religion by speech or through publication.

    2. enforce the above law in letter and spirit

    3. proscribe sectarian organizations as well as individuals within them, so that they don’t mushroom with different names.

    4. introduce inter-denominational and inter-sectarian councils at local and regional levels whose remit will be to host inter-faith events to enable people of diverse beliefs to foster good relations

    5. introduction of a standard national curriculum for religious seminaries and national council to ensure that kids going there do not get brainwashed by hate material

    6. kids at school should also be taught about the diversity of beliefs in their society in a balanced and impartial manner.

    7. a national media campaign against sectarianism and how Islam (the Qur’an) condemns it.

    8. Signing of a code of conduct by all religious bodies and religious leaders regarding non promotion of violence and hatred against other religions. They should be allowed intellectual debate and critique o religions but no one should be allowed to resort to violence against those who believe differently.

  • It’s terrible. Things are badly screwed up here, in India too. But at least, not via the Constitution itself.

  • So true and powerful blog. I agree with each and every word you said.Being a woman I share many of those apprehensions. No wonder we, the Pakistanis are responsible for all that mess and then blame it on 9/11, Zionists or America.

    The last lines were hitting!

    Keep writing!

  • Sadly, Such intolerance and injustice resides everywhere… even in India… Saddest part… one cant do anything about it

    btw … do post your interview …& congrats…

    I am glad atleast someone has balls to stand for truth.

    You Go Girl !

  • Love this!! (also found it interesting how in the ET version they removed the ‘Sunni’ from the last paragraph… haha. I like your version better) Cliche I know but your post reminded me of this poem:
    “THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

  • I want to apologize to everyone for everything that is happening in my country by my people, to my people and because of my people. I also want to apologize for being so sad and hopeless, as I see no hope of things getting any better. They will one day but as history has proved many times before, that day of self realization and self improvement may only come after some major distaster. I am sorry that I am ashamed of being Paksitan, I love my country, for everything it has or it was, but I am ashamed of my people. We have no morality, we don’t care and we don’t have any whatsoever integrity. I am sorry the world is like that, I am sorry we are oppressed, illiterate, and faceless. We don’t respect anybody or anything, we don’t respect ourselves, how can we do anything in the name or religion. Who cares, what religion they are, they are still people with lives, children and parents. I am sorry that we are so low. ..and I am sorry I am so disappointed and hopeless.

  • Unfortunately, this is going to continue as long as people believe my god is better than yours. My language, culture, way of worship or whatever is better than yours. Since it is difficult to prove any of such claims logically, hatred is used to blind people against logic and make them follow the illogical or radical path.
    Greed, illiteracy injustice, and oppression add fuel to fire. Nations struggle because injustice prevails. This is not limited to Pakistan, India or South Asia where religious extremism and acute poverty make people extremists. China, North Korea, and many other countries have failed to provide just and free life to their citizens and they are not necessarily too religious.
    Diversity makes a society rich and colorful. Justice and rule of law makes a society civil. It is possible to love your own way of life without hating other’s.
    Parents need to teach their kids to love all people irrespective of their religion, language, race and nationality. Don’t be scared when they love and decide to marry someone who is little different from you.
    If you cannot allow your daughter to marry outside religion, language, country (at her own will) you have not learnt to respect and treat everyone as an equal and you still think you are better than a fellow human being.
    Are we going to be able to achieve that ever?

  • Taz: Hard hitting post. As long as the business of religion is strong there will be the politics of manipulation and hate. One of your earlier posts about a five or eight year old boy in the Swat valley who said he’ll kill you if he was asked to- pretty much gives you the picture of things there.. There are a lot of similarities in india- one hears of honour killings, paedophilia, religious persecution, regional persecution etc pretty much everywhere. I’m not even sure that education makes a lot of difference coz some of the hate spewing characters are an extremely educated lot.. and when you have a political establishment that will do anything , play any hate card for the votes, what can you expect? The thing is -it will take time to change. And it needs ordinary citizens to start in a small way. Education, creation of employment, etc will help… but it needs to start small. I loved that post of yours about the student of yours who stood up for something she believed in. That’s the idea. Start small. ordinary citizens are like chained elephants- completely ignorant of their power.

  • You stated ‘She was the first person I met who has faced an act of violence against her’

    It should say ‘She was the first I met who had faced an act of violence against her’ and not who has faced.

    You also stated ‘ Your testimony in the court of law is that of half of a man, and your citizenships rights are limited’.

    It should say ‘citizenship rights’ and not citizenships rights. Citizenship should not have an s.

    In the version on your blog, you stated ‘If you happen to end up in a radical madrassah, there is a great likelihood that you will end up as a suicide bomber, perpetuating violence and terror to others’

    It should say ‘perpetuating violence and terror on others’ and not terror to others.

    I think you are a good writer and one of the few genuinely liberal writers from Pakistan.

    Please spend some time editing your pieces.

    Hope you will find this email to be in the spirit of constructive criticism.

    Take Care.

  • nice blog.I hope u will write on the different restrictions imposed on women be it legal,social;how our society has pigeonholed women into the roles of mother,wife,sister,daughter.Any working mother or divorcee is to be treated as an outcast by both the men and women in our society.Ours is a society that prides itself on forcing wives to remain in abusive marriages & it’s not just in old indian movies but in the present 21st century pakistan that women have no alternative other than staying in a horrible marriage or commiting suicide.I wish tazeen you’ll speak up and challenge all that is imposed by misogynistics in the name of religion.

  • Wish you all the best, Tazeen. You are a courageous girl equipped with a wonderful sens of humor.

    If you need a breather come over here, for a while.

    Georg

  • “Back in the European middle ages, alchemists dreamed of the universal solvent – a fluid that could dissolve anything. What they never figured out is that if they found it, what container could they possibly store such a fluid?

    The demand for “purity” in religion in Pakistan is a similar corrosive substance, that once created, keeps acting and dissolving everything it comes in contact with.

  • While you are dead right on every one of your gripes, I implore you to stay off the taboo subjects. It doesn’t pay to talk about them – not in conservative societies like in the subcontinent.

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