‘Stop calling us a minority if you want to include us’

Bringing people together for ‘table talk’ will help understand one another say minority leaders.

Express August 17, 2011


At one table at the MQM iftari stood out the “papal purple and the pagan orange”, to borrow from the Hollywood blockbuster Four Weddings and a Funeral. The MQM’s Nasreen Jalil sat with the guests from the churches, mandirs and gurdwaras to chat about Karachi’s state of affairs and what the party believed.

Later, Father Thomas Gulfam of the Catholic Church at Korangi Crossing spoke of changing the way people think at the grassroots level. “We are one; we are all the offspring of Adam and Eve. Once we accept this there will be no more war,” he said.

Even Shri Ram Nath Maharaj of the Shri Punch Mukhi Hanumman Mandir had happily noted that the party had brought people of all faiths, creed, colours and minds under one marquee. “This will go a long way in removing bias,” he said. “Some people will say don’t drink from the same glass or eat at the same table as a Hindu. Bringing people here together for ‘table talk’ will help us understand one another.” He felt that everyone needed to keep up with the custom of attending each other’s events.

He got a little ruffled when asked a question that contained the word “minority”. “We don’t know this minority-majority debate,” he remarked. “People need to decide where they classify us, but perhaps it’s best to just end this whole minority-majority business.” Indeed, the Hindus were also fasting. They were just two fasts ahead of the Muslims in their Sawaan rozas. “We all pray,” he said. “Our methods are just different.”

In these debates it seems as if the “minorities” are a little fed up with being painted into a corner. Goswami Vijay Maharaj told The Express Tribune that other religions need to stop seeing them as a “boaj” or burden. “We are also Pakistanis,” he said. “They have just set August 11 aside for us and then celebrate August 14.”

In principle, Maulana Shah Ferozuddin Rehmani agreed. “I think 99% of people want peace and harmony,” he said. “It is just that one per cent that creates havoc. We need to overpower them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.

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