Egypt Protests and Pakistan Religious Inequality

Where is the outrage when Shias, Christians, Hazaras, and other religious groups are bombed and assassinated in the name of religion?

religious-egypt-pakistan-protestsThe recent weeks witnessed wide scale protests in Pakistan in support of Muslim Brotherhood, highlighting the atrocities going on in Egypt committed by the army allegedly with the support of the West.

Egypt is indeed going through a severe crisis and conflict, where both official and unofficial sources have confirmed scores of Egyptian deaths — which is condemnable and unacceptable.

But again, the Muslim or Western Conspiracy theory is emanating from the protests in Pakistan, calling for the restoration of democracy in Egypt and an end to “Muslim” killings.

Those who view Egypt as an Islamic State fail realize that the country has a greater influence of secularism compared many Muslim countries. Egypt’s long-term fruitful ties with Israel are a good example of that.

Many Pakistani protestors ignored the fact that more than 47 Coptic Egyptian Churches have been burnt, destroyed, or looted during the conflict, making the Copts as equal victims. The attackers were not non-Muslims from the West. And thus the Muslims are not the lone victims.

If protests are to be made, they should be made to support the Muslims in Egypt as well, but that is where Pakistan’s current religious and social dilemma comes into play.

Pakistan also recently saw a major suicide attack on a Cathedral in Peshawar, killing more than 80 innocent Christians. Even though the attack targeted Pakistanis because of their religious background, there were no major protests by Muslims in support of their Christian compatriots.

There is a general perception that only “Sunni” Muslims are the true Muslims, without giving space to other sects.

This mindset plays a negative role in tolerance for non-Muslims from the ultra conservative Muslims in the country.

Furthermore, amid all these developments, many protests for Egypt arranged by religious parties are calling for restoration of democracy in Egypt. Such demonstrations coming from parties, such as Jamaat e Islami and Jamiat e Ulema e Islam, which have remained avid supporters of dictatorships in the past is somehow baffling.

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Also, another irony in these protests is that for the same religious parties, democracy is incompatible for Pakistan, as their manifestos call for implementation of Islamic law in the country.

On the other hand, these parties have also shied away from condemning their chief financiers, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, who announced support for the Egyptian dictatorship, coupled with proposing multibillion aid packages.

A further saddening fact is when in Pakistan or other Muslim states, the common people – including minorities or people from other sects – are killed by militants, none of these parties, or even the people, come forward to protest against the known culprits.

Nothing is wrong with protesting for a country where people are dying. What’s wrong is the discrepancy and double standards resulting in ignorance of atrocities occurring at home. The sole problem with these protests is that most of them are based on the rhetoric that “Sunni brethren” in Egypt are persecuted.

Why can’t the same people protest when Shias, Christians, Hazaras, or other religious minority groups are bombed and assassinated in the name of religion?

Why can’t the people be equally vocal and come forward for the Christians, and other non-Muslims whose places of worship are burnt on allegations of blasphemy? And why can’t the people protest for the inequality faced by non-Sunni Pakistanis in various ways of life.

The West may have different standards for democracy when it comes to Muslims, but as Muslims do we have the same standards for humanity and human lives?

For that purpose, let us leave the Egyptian uprising as a normal political process, that they would go through, and thus would need our lecturing on whether to allow a dictator or not. It’s their country to manage; let us focus on our own, and set our own house in order first.

The Peace Education and Development (PEAD) Foundation is a non-profit training and advocacy organization. It was founded in 2002, with a commitment to work for promotion of peace, non-violence, democracy and good governance.