We are all familiar with Pastor Martin Niemoller’s frightening comment about life in Nazi Germany, as group after group was targeted and the failure to speak out for fear of endangering other people’s lives. Today, are we also falling into the same trap? Certainly, it seems that more and more groups are being brought into the crosshairs of extremist guns. The peaceful Dawoodi Bohra community, which has for decades kept a low profile, remaining chiefly focused on business, is the latest such group. Two members of the community were shot dead in Hyderabad on November 3 and a third, brother of one of the victims, was shot and wounded as he tried to reach the hospital where they had been taken. This was obviously a planned, carefully contemplated strike.
This is not the first time that such an attack has taken place. September saw twin blasts taking place in Karachi, in a predominantly Dawoodi Bohra area of the city that killed seven, including an infant. At least two other persons belonging to the community have been killed since then in Karachi, in what appears to have been targeted killings, though the police have given no final verdict on the motives involved. It makes one wonder, who will be next? There are many minority groups, as well as Muslim sects and sub-sects, living in our country. All or any of them could be next. A number of them — the Christians, the Shias, the Hindus, the Hazaras and others — have already faced such attacks. It is possible that in time, other groups will also be picked out for such targeted attacks.
The fault for this lies with us. We simply cannot afford to allow such death, such sectarian and ethnic cleansing, to be carried out without raising our voices against this phenomenon. The silence only aids the killers. We are, in fact, clearing the way for them to use their guns more often against groups unable to defend themselves. The time has come for us to read Niemoller’s words once more with care and remember what happened in the time he spoke those words. We need to heed the advice he gives, which may have been too late for him, but may just still save us.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 6th, 2012.
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