Sometimes, rage in the name of religion in our country reaches such an extent that some members go so far as to not even spare a small, one-room Hindu temple. The Shri Krishna Bhagwan Mandir in Karachi was attacked by an angry mob on Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool. The temple’s caretaker was brought to tears when 150 people carrying rocks and sticks snatched adornments from the statues, which were brought from India over a decade ago. While protesting Muslims received the support of Pakistan’s religious minority groups over the blasphemous video, this is the ‘gratitude’ one of those communities received in return. This time, however, the police, finally appearing to operate in a fair manner, dealt a blasphemy charge against the Muslim men responsible for the desecration, under Section 295-A, punishing “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”.
Apart from this most disconcerting state of matters, in which protesters of a peaceful religion displayed hatred and greed towards members of a minority group — and perhaps the fact that followers of all religions and faiths deserve equal treatment under the law — the decision by the police must be supported. All citizens of a state must be forced to follow the same rules and this should include respect for other religions. An act of hatred towards a minority community must be regarded as inexcusable and reviewed until the wrongdoers face the consequences of their actions. We cannot allow such barbaric scenes from the past, of Sikh men eventually having to attack the angry mob back with daggers to stop them from destroying the Hindu temple.
Building religious tolerance in the country has a long way to go but the police, meanwhile, must support minorities in coming forth and reporting hate crimes. It is not right to let minorities live paralysed in fear because this would be following in the footsteps of the Taliban, which also force people to live in fear.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2012.
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