Tag Archives: religion

Annihilation of Minorities

On March 24, 2019, the then Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said:

“The minorities in Pakistan make up the white of our flag and all of our flag’s colours are precious to us. Protection of our flag is our duty.”

Addressing a function to celebrate Holi with Hindus in 2017, the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif insisted that it was not anyone’s job to decide who will go to hell or heaven, but to make Pakistan a heaven on earth. He said that forcible conversion and destruction of worship places of other religions is a crime in Islam and in Pakistan as he greeted the Hindu community on the occasion of Holi. In his inclusive message to minorities in Pakistan, he stated

“No one can force others to adopt a certain religion,”

“Islam gives importance to every human being regardless of his caste, creed or religion and I say it clearly that forcing anyone to convert his religion is a crime and it is our duty to protect the worship places of the minorities in Pakistan.” 

On March 24, 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan had put a probe into reports of abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of two teenage Hindu girls in Sindh province and to take immediate steps for their recovery. He also told the Sindh and Punjab governments to devise a joint action plan in light of the incident, and to take concrete steps to prevent such incidents from happening again.

In mid-September this year the Parliamentary Committee on Minorities headed by Senator Anwar ul Haq Kakar had decided to travel to various areas of Sindh to meet the victims of forced conversion. The committee determined to visit all provinces and hold meetings with the provincial, district governments, civil administration and police officials so as to create an integrated system of detection, reporting, vigilance and response concerning forced conversions

On October 19, 2020 Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar spoke to the press alongside committee member MNA Lal Chand Malhi and civil society activist from Tharparkar Krishan Sharma, following a recent visit by the committee to parts of Sindh where forced conversions of young Hindu girls have been described. . Senator Anwarul Haq Kakar, said the issue was sensitive, serious and complicated, the most complicated part of the situation is that what is considered as forced conversion by the aggrieved community is considered wilful conversion by religious groups, which includes Jamaat-i-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, people like Mian Mithu of Sindh and even Tablighi Jamaat, but at the same time all conversions are not under duress and threats. The finding of the committee adds an interesting facet to the discourse around the forced conversion issue. Although conversion to seek a better lifestyle is also considered forced conversion, economic reasons can be considered exploitation and not force, as eventually it is after consent. Most instances have some degree of willingness. He added that there was a tenuous line between consent and exploitation, the conversion of Hindu girls in Sindh could not be considered forced. The committee did not see any trace of kidnapping and illegal confinement of Hindu girls who later came to give statements in court.

During the visit, members of the committee held public meetings in Sukkur and Mirpur Mathelo in Ghotki district, as comfortably as a meeting with senior officials in the Sindh government in Karachi. Meetings were held with the households of victims of forced conversions, officials and accused groups. Approximately 200 members of the Hindu community participated in a public meeting in Sukkur while around 800 people attended the meeting in Mirpur Mathelo. The most vulnerable districts for forced conversions are Sanghar, Ghotki, Sukkur, Khairpur and Mirpurkhas. There have been negligible reported cases from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while a few cases involving Christians have been reported in Punjab.

The committee have done a relatively thorough job of stretching out the layers of how and why forced conversions take place. Mr Malhi said that people such as Mian Mithu and Pir Sarhandi house girls and manage the system to prevent the girl away from her family. He stated there was no evidence that they were backed by an authority, political power or state organ. Mr Krishan Sharma said there are two kinds of forced conversions, the first involving kidnapping and illegal confinement. The second is rampant in Sindh and that has to be taken care of by the state, this is procedural forced conversions, [in which] the whole organization of the country, from the police, the courts, etc. are violating the laws and facilitating such conversions. Senator Kakar said that people who encourage young ladies from the Hindu community to move out and marry according to their own wishes are not as liberal about their own daughters.

The committee identified social and economic marginalisation as the reason why some girls willingly convert; to assign all incidents of forced conversions under this category is unfair and insensitive. Although the committee categorically said that the government had neglected in its responsibility to shield minority communities from forced conversion. They denounced all manner of religious conversion under social or economic duress. Identified it as exploitation, calling them, conversion as an effect of the social, administrative and economic marginalisation of the Hindu community in Sindh.

I am in entire disagreement with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani who said: Times are changing and we should take advantage of this era, as all those who used to encourage kidnapping of minor girls, marry them and announce that they have converted to Islam are on the back foot now. Even today the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi cancelled a seminar of noted economist Dr Atif Mian, who goes to the minority Ahmadiyya community, due to the threats the university administration was facing from extremists.

“Sorry to report that my zoom economics seminar at IBA Karachi has been cancelled due to threats that the university administration was facing from extremists,” tweeted Dr Atif Mian.

Prime minister Imran Khan mentions Riyasat Medina in his every speech; I would like to remind him that providing security to the minorities is the basic principle of such form of governance. If the economic conditions are not improved and the minorities are passed on to the influential religious groups, I am afraid we will be left with religious groups only in the land of Sufis. Federal and provincial governments must improve the economic conditions to stop conversions due to the economic pressure, or accept it that, the annihilation of the minorities is a planned practice.

Emancipate the minorities from economic and religious pressures.

UNDER DURESS

History of religious or sectarian conversions is quite long. However forced conversion that occurred after the seventh century generally took place during riots and massacres carried out by mobs and clergy without support of the rulers. In contrast, royal persecutions of Jews from the late eleventh century onward generally took the form of expulsions, with some exceptions, such as conversions of Jews in southern Italy of the 13th century, which were carried out by Dominican Inquisitors but instigated by King Charles II of Naples. The Rhineland massacres, also known as the persecutions of 1096, were a series of mass murders of Jews perpetrated by mobs of German Christians of the People’s Crusade in the year 1096. The massacre is seen as the first in a sequence of anti-Semitic events in Europe which culminated in the Holocaust.

After the end of Islamic control of Spain, Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. In Portugal, following an order for their expulsion in 1496, only a handful was allowed to leave and the rest were forced to convert. Muslims were expelled from Portugal in 1497, and they were gradually forced to convert in the constituent kingdoms of Spain. After the forced conversion, when all former Muslims and Jews had ostensibly become Catholic, the Spanish Inquisition targeted primarily forced converts from Judaism and Islam, who came under suspicion of either continuing to adhere to their old religion.

Although it’s not completely true, but lot of historians believe that forced conversion was rare in Islamic history, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary especially in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, where Sufis played a greater role. Muslim rulers were often more interested in conquest and imposing Jiziyah than conversion. A per capita yearly taxation, called Jiziyah historically levied in the form of financial charge on permanent non-Muslim subjects of a state governed by Islamic law. Studies in the 21st century suggest that, in terms of percentage and worldwide spread, Islam is the fastest-growing major religion in the world. A comprehensive religious forecast for 2050 by the Pew Research Centre concludes that global Muslim population is expected to grow at a faster rate than the Christian population due primarily to the young age and high fertility-rate of Muslims. According to Pew Research, religious conversion has no net impact on the Muslim population as the number of people who convert to Islam is roughly similar to those who leave Islam.

India is a nation that is home to a diversity of religious beliefs and practices.  The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of four major world religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Hinduism is one of the oldest living religions in the world. Laws restricting religious conversions were originally introduced by Hindu princely states during the British Colonial period, mainly during the latter half of the 1930s and 1940s. These states enacted the laws in an attempt to preserve Hindu religious identity in the face of British missionaries. But in recent years politicians and human rights groups including Muslims have protested against ‘forced’ conversions to Hinduism by nationalist groups. They accuse right-wing Hindus aligned with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of forcibly converting Christians and Muslims.

Islamic law prohibits forced conversion, following the Quranic principle that there is “no compulsion in religion” (2:256).

Pakistan is an Islamic country. However, Jinnah’s vision seems to have faded with the passage of time. Despite being the signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that the right to freedom of religion includes the right to change one’s religion and that no one shall be subject to coercion to change their religion, Pakistan has failed to comply with its international obligations. The current ruling Pakistan Tehreek Insaf government, vowed in their 2018 election manifesto that “PTI will protect the civil, social and religious rights of minorities; their places of worship, property and institutions as laid down in the Constitution.”

The Sindh government twice attempted to outlaw forced conversions and marriages, including laying guidelines for the court process in the Protection of Minorities Bill, placing an age limit of 18 years upon conversions.

In 2016, the bill was unanimously passed by the Sindh Assembly, but religious parties objected to an age limit for conversions, and threatened to besiege the assembly if the bill received approval of the governor, who then refused to sign the bill into law. Religious groups oppose a minimum age for conversion or marriage on the basis that this is not sanctioned by Islam. Former Sindh governor rejected the bill and said: “When Ali Ibn Abi Talib can convert to Islam at a young age 9 years, why can’t Hindu girls?”

In 2019, a revised version was introduced, but religious parties protested once again. A sit-in was organised by Pir Mian Abdul Khaliq Mian Mithu, a political and religious leader and a central character in many cases of forced conversions of underage Hindu girls in Sindh. However, Mian Mitthu turned down all the allegations and said, in the past 200 years, not a single Hindu has been converted to Islam forcibly, he claimed. “All those men, women, girls and boys, whether they belong to the Hindu community or any other community, come to us to change their religion out of their own choice. They are not forced to convert.”

Hindus are often the victims of bonded labour. It was outlawed in 1992, but the practice is still prevalent. The Global Slavery Index estimates that just over three million Pakistanis live in debt servitude. Landlords trap poor Hindus into such bondage by providing loans that they know can never be repaid. They and their families are then forced to work off the debt.  Islamic charities and clerics offer incentives of jobs or land to impoverished minorities on the condition that they convert. Muhammad Ali who was known by his Hindu name, Rajesh, before converting alongside 205 others. Ultimately, his entire family had decided to convert to Islam when one of the cleric, offered to free them from the bonded labour. Muhammad Ali is originally from one of the lowest in Hinduism.

According to a report, more than 100 Hindus in Sindh converted to Islam in June 2020 to escape discrimination and economic pressures. Some of these conversions are voluntary, some not. To convert someone is perceived as a pious deed that will bring rewards in the hereafter, no matter the method employed to execute the conversion.

Although every conversion is not forced, but a question irritates me when a young Hindu girl is kidnapped or eloped and after a few days she converts to Islam: Why it is only Hindu girls who are so eager to change their religion, why aren’t Hindu boys, who enjoy more social independence than the girls? Why wealthy and educated independent Hindu women are not attracted to Islam?

Bani Israel

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds. When I look back at my school days, I can only recall a grotesque impression of Jews, nothing positive about them, and I am afraid after four decades it hasn’t change much. Religious hate and bigotry has been immensely increased against minorities in different parts of the world.

Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.

― Yehuda Bauer

The Holocaust is more than a warning from the past. A phantom of the Jews haunted Europe in the 1930s. Concurrently feared and despised as a Christ killer, a devil, subversive revolutionary and capitalist exploiter, callous upholder of an antiquated religion and insidious exponent of cultural modernism. Increasingly excluded from normal society and expelled from common human fellowship, the Jew was a subhuman, eventually almost everywhere a haunted beast.

Some Christians often blame the Jews for the death of Jesus. But this blame should probably be limited to the Jewish religious leaders, who had managed to keep some of their power by cooperating with the Romans. Crucifixion was a Roman method of punishment, and it is a basic fact that Roman soldiers, not Jews, put Jesus on the cross. A compromise view is that, Jewish leaders and Romans, played major roles, but only Jews paid the price.

In the 1920s the European Jews had presented the appearance of a vibrant and flourishing people. For the first time in their history they were recognised as citizens in every country they lived. However within the short space of two decades a dramatic change transformed. By 1939, two years before the Nazi decision to commit genocide, Jews had been deprived of civil rights and were in the process of being turned into outcasts. The great masses of Jews in east-central Europe were sunk in dire poverty. Whether in the Poland, Germany, France or USSR, Jews sincerely protested their loyalty to states of which they were citizens. Confronted by violent enmity, they embarked on a road toward collective oblivion that appeared to be the price of individual survival. Jewish culture was in retreat, as a result. Religious practice was decreasing and the orthodox, in particular, felt embattled and threatened. The cultural glue that had long bound Jews together was losing its cohesive power. The European Jews in the 1930s were actors in their own history.

By January 1939 more and more Jews in Europe were being reduced to wandering refugees. All over the continent, Jews were evicted from their homes and forced to live in camps. Growing numbers were confined in concentration camps, not just in Germany but in France and Netherlands too. The expulsion fever spread to Southeast Europe. Yugoslavia started deporting Jewish refugees who had arrived from Germany and Italy. At the end of April the Bulgarian and Romanian governments ordered the expultion of alien Jews. In Western Europe too, refugees were confined to camps. From there to mass murder was not an inevitable step.

Hitler explicitly stated in his September 1919 letter that, the Jews are definitely a race and not a religious community. This was fundamental to his anti-Semitic belief. Despite a desperate search to identify a test for Jewish blood, the Nazis never managed to find a scientific way of telling whether or not an individual was a member of the Jewish race or not. As a result, once the Nazis started to prosecute and eventually exterminate Jews, they had to rely on a Jewishness test that was religious. The primacy of race in human history was so central to Hitler’s world view that he would never let the small matter of science get in the way of his belief. The idea that racial hygiene was central to the health of a nation that the Jews were a racial threat to Aryan people, added a potentially catastrophic element to the anti-Semitic brew. Traditional anti-Semitism had been based on religion. If the Jews converted to Christianity then they had a chance of escaping persecution. But the idea that Jewishness was something inherent in an individual, in the blood.

The invasion of Austria and the subsequent union of the country with Germany was a success for Hitler’s regime. Hitler’s self confidence rose in the wake of the Nazi conquest of Austria.

Hitler claimed that his existence was part of a supernatural plan, whoever believes in God must admit: when the fate of a people is altered within three days, then this is divine judgement, and that since God had now decreed that Germany and Austria should be united then, what the Lord has joined together, let no man divide.

Around 37,000 German Jews left Germany in 1933. Many of them went to neighbouring France or The Netherlands. The action against the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto was one of the most atrocious of all the horrors of the Holocaust. Almost all of the Jews from the Warsaw ghetto were sent to the death camp at Treblinka. By June 1942, the first death factories of the Holocaust were in place, and the Nazis had created a method of killing that allowed them to murder in considerable numbers. This specialised death camp was the largest and most deadly. Around 850,000 people were murdered here between summer of 1942 and autumn 1943, around a quarter of a million of them from Warsaw ghetto. The Schutzstaffel, known as SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler achieved this killing because Treblinka had been built with a railway spur leading directly into the camp. The SS were able to speed up the unloading of the Jews and their transportation to the gas chambers. An obvious precondition for the deception was that the presence of large numbers of dead bodies was hidden from the arriving Jews. The killing appeared to progress efficiently for SS, with about 5,000 to 7,000 Jews murdered each day.

I wanted to post the picture of Dr Fritz Klein who was a German Nazi doctor and war criminal, standing in a mass grave surrounded by corpses around him, but couldn’t. He was hanged for his role in atrocities at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during the Holocaust. When asked how he reconciled his actions with his ethical obligations as a physician, Klein famously stated:

My Hippocratic Oath tells me to cut a gangrenous appendix out of the human body. The Jews are the gangrenous appendix of mankind. That’s why I cut them out.

On July 11,1944 Sir Winston Churchill wrote: There is no doubt that this is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world, and it has been done by scientific machinery by nominally civilized men in the name of a great State and one of the leading races of Europe. Declarations should be made in public, so that everyone connected with it will be hunted down and put to death.

But words of outrage and threat on their own didn’t directly help the Jews who were dying in AUSCHWITZ.

Whore of Babylon

Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.

Hooker, whore, and prostitute, call girl, hooker, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers?
Don’t you think men visiting brothels are prostitutes not women?
What’s a polite and respectful name for a prostitute?
Ask yourself this question honestly?