Of Trump’s Muslim ban and minorities in Pakistan

Of Trump’s Muslim ban and minorities in Pakistan

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U.S. President Donald Trump has become the new global sensation – both on print and electronic media – for all the wrong reasons. The moment we log in to any of our social media profiles, we are bound to bump into news stories focusing on the U.S. president.

Most of these stories have got us worried about the future of Muslims in the United States and the treatment meted out against them by the Trump administration. But why are we, in Pakistan, so worried after all?

When Trump “unsurprisingly” defeated Hillary Clinton in the recent U.S. elections, everyone feared what he might bring on the table in terms of a change in U.S. policy making. I use the term “unsurprisingly” because with the important vote on Brexit in the UK, and the rise of ultranationalist conservative movements in Europe, it was imminent that someone like Trump could easily channel support of the white majority and transform it into an election victory.

Trump’s tone, even since his campaigning days, was pretty clear: He wanted a complete ban on further influx of Muslim immigrants in the United States from the conflict-ridden Middle Eastern countries, especially Syria and Iraq.

Now that he is the President, he is staying true to his campaign promise, but his “anti-Muslim” rhetoric has created a sense of fear among the Muslim minority in the U.S. and invited critique from Muslims around the globe.

We have so far witnessed scenes of travellers asked not to board flights en-route to the U.S., and green card holders, having already landed in the U.S., sent back to their countries of origin. Luckily, sanity prevailed when a US federal judge ordered a stay on Trump’s order allowing entry to those stranded both within and outside the US.

Rightly so, the ban does seem to go against any spirit of Human Rights. And yes, it does seem prejudicial against people belonging to a specific region and religion. Yet, critique on Donald Trump coming from countries like Pakistan is not only far-fetched but also hypocritical.

Where Trump is only fulfilling a promise that he made to his voters during his election campaign – of making America safe again – and started vetting “minorities (re: Muslims)”, minorities in Pakistan are under a never-ending fear of persecution.

Where Muslims are, at the very least, allowed to integrate, flourish and practice their religion openly in the U.S., minorities in Pakistan are rarely allowed to openly or freely practice their religion. Where the state ensures to protect the minorities according to the constitution in the U.S., the state in Pakistan seems reluctant in doing so.

When a mosque in Texas was recently burnt down to ashes, Americans from all over the country donated close to a million US dollars for rebuilding the mosque. On the other hand, when Churches, Temples or other places of worship, belonging to minorities, are vandalised or set on fire in Pakistan, groups responsible take pride in doing so, and consider it a service to Islam.

There was also a recent incident of an angry mob of over a thousand people besieging an Ahmadiya place of worship, resulting in the death of a worshipper inside. Rather than showing sympathy, the social media was abuzz with debates trying to justify the siege.

Such is the state of minorities in Pakistan that even after seventy years of Independence, the country, rather than going forward, is still stuck in the debate of who is Muslim and who is not.  We have failed as a nation to protect our own minorities; be it the Hazaras, Christians, Hindus or Ahmadiya.

How can we, by failing to ensure basic human rights for own minority groups, criticise Trump for imposing bans on Muslims?

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FAROOQ YOUSAF

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