Religious Persecution In Pakistan

We Need To Talk About Religious Persecution In Pakistan

I cannot abide by the disgusting stigma that Pakistani society seems to have towards anyone who dares to follow their own religion.

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This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit my family's homeland, Pakistan, for a wedding alongside my family. We stayed in Karachi for three weeks, during which I observed a disturbing trend since my last visit four years ago—an almost silent voice from the more prominent minority religious communities, specifically the Ahmadi and Christian communities, displayed by a conspicuous absence of any churches or places of worship for these factions.

While all of my family members were reveling in the ideals of change and justice that newly-appointed Prime Minister Imran Khan would bring to this beleaguered nation (corrupted since its inception by incompetent bureaucracy and religious extremism), I wondered what had happened to the already-slighted institutions that these minorities held sanctuary in, and why so few were willing to speak of their near-complete lack of presence in the local community. When I posed these questions to family, they shrugged off this seemingly bizarre phenomenon with a forced indifference, leaving me to do my own digging to find out why minorities in Pakistan appeared to be ignored by both the government and the common people.

Pakistan has approximately 2.5 million Christians (totaling about 1.6 percent of the population), and approximately 2.2 percent of its population are Ahmadis, a people who follow the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and are almost identical to regular followers of the Islamic faith, save for one key difference—their refusal to acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as the final messenger of Allah (SWT.)

In addition, Pakistan has a sizable population of Hindus, Atheists, Sufis, and various other peoples of different faith, and yet does nothing to shield these communities from the persecution that they face simply for choosing to follow their own faith instead of the one followed by the majority. There is no shortage of horrific instances of persecution against these minorities, which include ethnic cleansing of Hindus and Christians, the murder of students over the ridiculous social enforcement of so-called "Blasphemy Laws" that eradicate any notion of freedom of speech (which is, by the way, guaranteed under Islamic law, proving that these blasphemy laws that prohibit speaking out against Islam are completely idiotic), and the burning of a local church in a Christian-majority neighborhood in Lahore, amongst many other acts of discrimination against non-Muslims.

Often times, minorities are not allowed to obtain housing, jobs, or even proper schooling, all due to their choice to believe in something other than mainstream Islam. Their patriotism and devotion to Pakistan have always been in question, in the same manner that Muslims in America are constantly scrutinized as being un-American.

I find it extremely ironic and disgusting that Pakistanis, whose country was founded on the basis of religious freedom and tolerance, would dare to treat religious minorities with such vitriol, in the same manner that their forefathers were treated in India for being Muslim under a Hindu regime. I feel angry that a so-called Muslim country has the audacity to proclaim itself as such whilst also treating members of its own community in such a disgusting manner.

The Quran specifically teaches Muslims to have love and respect for one another and for their neighbors, and yet Pakistan is home to some of the most discriminatory laws against religious minorities on the planet. The country itself owes much to the Ahmadiyya community, which has produced some of the finest military officers (LTG Qamar Bajwa), scientists (Mohammed Abdus Salam), and artists (Saira Wasim) to represent Pakistan.

During the 1947 liberation of Pakistan from India, it was an Ahmadi missionary (Abdul Rahim Dard) who convinced Muhammad Ali Jinnah (the founding father of Pakistan) to return to British India to continue to headline the Pakistan movement. This ill-treatment of non-Muslims in Pakistan, backed by fervently extremist mullahs who demonize these communities as enemies of Islam, is wholly anti-Islamic and altogether no different than the racism that Muslims face abroad in the United States and Europe.

I can't pretend that I understand all of the nuances of the power-politics in play that keep minorities from establishing themselves as strong communities representative of Pakistan as a country.

However, I cannot abide by the disgusting stigma that Pakistani society seems to have towards anyone who dares to follow their own religion. I can only hope that the new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, notices the plight of the minority communities and works to alleviate them from the injustices that they suffer from their own home.

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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The EU's 'Article 13' Might Mark The End Of Fandoms

Content might end up being censored and taken down from the Internet.

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Today is such a dark day for the Internet — Article 13, a set of broad copyright regulations, has been passed in the EU. For those who are not informed, Article 13 is a copyright law that critics say will lead to European Internet users' content being pre-screened for copyright-protected material. This could affect one of the most dedicated groups of internet users: fandoms. Fandoms are groups of fans who share a strong and passionate interest for an anime, a movie, a TV show, a band, or celebrity, etc.

How does Article 13 truly affect fandoms? It destroys the fandoms' ways of expressing their creativity and love. This includes fan art, fan fiction, fan music covers, and even fan blogs on the Internet. All of this content will end up being censored and taken down from the Internet.

Why should we care? Believe it or not, but fandoms aren't just small groups of fans. They involve numerous people! Also, fandoms not only hold an influence on the success of a particular TV show and certain franchises, but also fandoms have helped improve many people's mental health. By mental health, many people have built many friendships and connections due to a common interest, giving people a sense of belonging and a feeling of home. Considering this, it's such a shame that European users who belong to numerous fandoms will no longer be able to have access to fandoms anymore.

As a fan artist, this truly impacts me. Not only do I lose a European audience, but this also destroys my freedom of creativity and my way of self-expression. Fan art has helped me improve my drawing style and in fact, allows me to show my love and support for a fandom. By contributing fan art, not only do I promote myself but I also show my honesty as an artist in the things I love. And I believe every other fan-artist feels the same way!

For those who want to help save fandoms and even help those living in Europe, one thing you can do to help and save fandoms is to spread the word! Let people know the bad things about Article 13 and tell people how Article 13 affects you. Let people know that a future without fandoms is unacceptable.

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