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    Treatment of religious minorities


    by Sunny on 4th April, 2007 at 8:50 am    

    I wasn’t aware that, given President Musharraf recently dismissed chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), a Hindu lawyer had taken his place. Neither was I aware that a petition had been filed challenging Rana Bhagwandas’ appointment because “the CJP is in line for appointment as acting president (who the constitution says must be a Muslim).”

    Saliha Shah, who points this out, also takes the words out of my mouth:

    Ofcourse, we Americans will do well to take stock of our own reactions to religious minorities in the government (Virgil Good’s reaction to Keith Ellison’s election, anyone?). But, in America, these reactions can be silenced by the Constitution itself - “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Article VI). Those Muslims who wield the Constitution to agitate for greater representation for Muslims in the United States would do well to require similar treatment for minorities in the Muslim world. Let Mr. Bhagwandas do his job if he’s capable. Who or what he worships should not be part of the equation.

    While some may point out that India does a better job by having a Sikh as Prime Minister and Muslim as President, the country still has a long way to go in actually being able to deliver justice, social conditions and economic opportunities equally to its own religious and ethnic minorities (Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians).



    Print this page and comments   |     |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: South Asia, Pakistan




    52 Comments below   |  

    1. Vikrant — on 4th April, 2007 at 8:57 am  

      (Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians).

      Sikhs eh? in India everybody wants to be a victim. To treat Hindus as a monolithic block is plain asinine. India is a nation of minorities.

    2. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 12:15 pm  

      No comment on the Iranian Crisis? Is this part of your “don’t follow the MSM and demonise Muslims?” remit?

      Its nice that you can rise yourself above these things, but to have no discussion on this risks “current affairs for a progressive generation” be better reffered to as “inconsequentual affairs for a regressive generation”

      TFI

    3. raz — on 4th April, 2007 at 2:22 pm  

      This is not the first time a minority has been appointed Chief justice. A Christian was appointed in the 1960’s:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._R._Cornelius

      To be honest, while it is a good thing that minorites can reach high places in Pakistan and India, we should never lose sight of the fact that in broader terms, minorities are treated poorly. Remember women have become Prime Minister in both countries, and yet generally the average woman faces a lot of discrimination. Hindus, Sikhs still face widespread discrimination in Pakistan, and countless Shia Muslims have been killed by sectarian terrorists. Sikhs in India have yet to see justice for the massacres of 1984, and the same goes for Muslims with Ayohdoa/Gujurat, not to mention the recent report which found Indian Muslims are worse off than Dalits. Until these countries find a way of extending equality to all sections of minority communities, we progressives cannot rest on our laurels.

      The Friendly Infidel,

      Aren’t you one of those people who is always complaining about Muslim extremism? Surely you should be praising the fact that a Hindu has been appointed Chief Justice of Pakistan. What does this have to do with Iran? I think your own prejudices are shining through.

    4. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

      Yes they are shinning brightly on the end of an enormous stick.

      On this topic I think that that a Hindu as Chief Justice is a great thing, a real step forward. Its a great pity that Musharraf seems to have to force progressive policies on his people. Much like Saddams rule in this regard, crazy ideas like letting women land, wear what they like and allowing them to veto their husbands new marriages.

      I’d still like to see some current affairs discussed on this site other than covering racism on BB. Where should I post that comment in your opinon?

      TFI

    5. Sam Ambreen — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:00 pm  

      TFI,

      You’re being a little harsh no?

      What do you mean “I’d still like to see some current affairs discussed on this site other than covering racism on BB”? That was an important issue, it’s been and gone and I believe the subject you just posted on kind of covers the current affairs angle.

      Are you bored?

    6. raz — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:03 pm  

      “Its a great pity that Musharraf seems to have to force progressive policies on his people”

      What evidence do you have for this? I haven’t heard of any widespread protests or condemnation from the mass population about Musharraf’s repeal of the Hudood laws (which didn’t even exist in Pakistan until Zia-ul-Haq introduced Islamism in 1979). Apart from the hardline Islamic parties, everyone else seems happy with the new laws, even Musharraf’s sworn political enemies in the opposition parties backed his move.

    7. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:15 pm  

      You’ll note the word “seems” to be in there. It may “seem” to you that this is nonsense statement. Thanks for providing your view and refute.

      Apart from the hardline Islamic parties, everyone else seems happy with the new laws

      Well that would entirely depend on how well supported the Hardline Islamic parties are. If they are very well supported by the public, then my statement would appear to be valid. If they the Hardline Islamic parties are in the minority, then my statement is oversimplified nonsense.

      So … how well are supported are the Hardline Islamic parties compared to Musharraf? Equally which way is the trend going? towards Musharraf, or away?

      Also “opposition parties”, isn’t Pakistan one of those Military Dictatorship thingies?

      TFI

    8. Kismet Hardy — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:18 pm  

      You’d think we were living in a world where you could go up to a dictator and say, hi, can I call you dic? But no you’d get shot

    9. raz — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

      “. If they the Hardline Islamic parties are in the minority, then my statement is oversimplified nonsense”

      They most certainly are in a minority, as elections have consistently proved. Maybe you should try and find out more about Pakistan before making foolish assertions which aren’t backed up by facts?

    10. Kismet Hardy — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:25 pm  

      Has Imran Khan done a sequel to Seatless in Islamabad?

      (sorry been saving that crack for years, but I’m sure it wasn’t funny even when it was relevant)

    11. sonia — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:46 pm  

      ha ha kismet that’s brilliant

      yeah you know me im so un-PC yes sometimes this whole ‘minority’ thing can get boring but PP is so full of witty raconteurs i couldn’t stay away if i wanted to..

      chuckle

    12. ali eteraz — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:53 pm  

      I recommend that people read the UPDATE to the Saliha Shah post at Eteraz

      This is not as sensationalist as we first made it out to be. Sunny, perhaps consider updating, too?

    13. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 3:57 pm  

      Maybe you should try and find out more about Pakistan before making foolish assertions which aren’t backed up by facts?

      That wouldn’t be as much fun would it?

      So was this Musharraf chap was elected in these free and open elections that you speak of? Just like Putin was?

      TFI

    14. raz — on 4th April, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

      “That wouldn’t be as much fun would it?”

      I think it would be hard to take any of your views on ‘current affairs’ seriously after this admission.

    15. raz — on 4th April, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

      ali eteraz,

      As I’ve stated before, a non-Muslim already held the position of Chief Justice for 8 years in the 1960’s.

    16. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 4:44 pm  

      I think it would be hard to take any of your views on ‘current affairs’ seriously after this admission.

      Fool! Didn’t you know everything written on the internet is true? even this?

      Besides, how much am I meant to know about current affairs in Pakistan? I only know of broad bush strokes that is painted from here, the UK press and my Pakistani friends and its not pretty.

      I know that if the Pakistani team is accused of ball tampering, then its commented on here, if their captain is murdered and acquestions of foul play is bought bear. Its not commented on here.

      I know that if Gitmo is mentioned (prison full of brown people held by while people) this site is all over it. But, should Iranian (brown people) kidnap 15 of our service man (white people) it isn’t commented on at all.

      I think it would be hard to take any PP views on ‘current affairs’ seriously after these admissions.

      Therefore I’ll just sit here and stroke my ego ;-)

      TFI

    17. lithcol — on 4th April, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

      Strange, the Irians don’t seem very brown to me. But then it is winter.

    18. Sid Love — on 4th April, 2007 at 5:10 pm  

      But then it is winter.

      Are you smoking crack?

    19. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

      Well, that’s true, the nice Iranian lady that sits next to me at work is dark, not that brown.

      Still, current affairs? pur-lease! there is more current affairs in the average copy of Hello! Magazine than here most of the time.

      TFI

    20. TheFriendlyInfidel — on 4th April, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

      Are you smoking crack?

      Off you go Kismet!

    21. El Cid — on 4th April, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

      I think Sunny has made a conscious effort to avoid international affairs in the light of previous virtual punch-ups. But I agree, it is beginning to get a bit narrow

    22. William — on 4th April, 2007 at 6:10 pm  

      raz #3

      ” Until these countries find a way of extending equality to all sections of minority communities, we progressives cannot rest on our laurels.”

      exactly, or anywhere else for that matter

    23. shiva — on 5th April, 2007 at 3:09 am  

      Sunny says, “…to its own religious and ethnic minorities (Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians)”

      Helloooo

      The dalits (notice lower case d) are neither an ethnic nor a religious minority and not even a monolithic group, being made up of innumerable endogamous jatis, just as the so called ‘castes’ (a colonial term) each consist of 100s of endogamous jatis.

      The other groups you talk are religious groups but not ethnically distinct groups. Abdul Kalam and I are both Tamizh. There is intermarriage among Sikhs and Hindus. In some Christian groups in the South endogamy takes place within the larger jati irrepective of religious affiliation. For instance a Christian family of jati X will sooner conclude a marital alliance with a Hindu family of jati X rather than a Christian family of jati Y. Among the Muslims too there are complex relationships built through biradaris. A family we used to know broke out of its biradari only after their long time Hindu neighbors (friends for >4 generations) vetted the alliance and approved the match.
      Religious minorities maybe, but they are definitely not ethnic minorities.

      It is not what it used to be but definitely not a segmented people.

    24. mirax — on 5th April, 2007 at 6:19 am  

      “I think Sunny has made a conscious effort to avoid international affairs in the light of previous virtual punch-ups. But I agree, it is beginning to get a bit narrow”

      I think that Sunny contributes mightily to the punchups, and actually sets them up with pisspoor blogs such as this one. Want to focus on Pakistan’s treatment of its religious minorities, sure, but why bring in India in that offhand fashion? Why totally ignore India’s 60-year government policy/programme ( the most extensive in south asia and set up by a dalit himself, the great Ambedkar and in great contrast to anything found on similar ground in Pakistan or Bangladesh) to ameliorate centuries of rank injustice? Why give Bangladesh a free ride on what was done to its hindu minority - on a scale that approached genocide in 1971? Why not explore why a minority that formed 22% of the population in that country after partition is much less than half that number presently? I believe similar numbers exist for Pakistan and are illustrative of a reality that you’d rather brush under the carpet. Are Sikhs, Christians, Parsees, Jains and innumerable other religious minorities voting with their feet and fleeing India?

      Could it be that you actually couldn’t care less about the issue and this blog simply reflects your shoddy attitude?

      Kudos to Saliha Shah for recognising that the US and Western Europe are exemplary in their treatment of religious minorities compared to any part of the ‘muslim world’. That was long overdue a recognition.

      Btw, I ‘d the first to agree with you that the dalits and tribals are still treated abominably in India but that is a subject worthy of discussion on its own. It was pretty pathetic of you to use that as a throwaway line because you were too cowardly to stick to the subject at hand.

    25. mirax — on 5th April, 2007 at 6:26 am  

      Shiva, Sunny likes the broad brush and such distinctions are mere pifflings…

      Btw, I’m one of the um, makkal, but isn’t that purist spelling of tamil just a touch overdone?

    26. mirax — on 5th April, 2007 at 6:31 am  

      …er, just speaking as someone who could never pronounce nor always hear the distinction between the 3 different “l”s and the 3 “n”s…despite my A level distinction in the subject…

    27. Sid — on 5th April, 2007 at 8:32 am  

      Why give Bangladesh a free ride on what was done to its hindu minority - on a scale that approached genocide in 1971?

      Wow, that’s a claim and a half. The persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh is terrible - but approaching to say it approaches genocide levels is a claim I haven’t heard before. I know you’re on a roll, but could I trouble you for some facts, please.

    28. Sid — on 5th April, 2007 at 8:40 am  

      Why not explore why a minority that formed 22% of the population in that country after partition is much less than half that number presently?

      It’s called migration patterns. You know, what you’re doing in Malaysia - kind of thing. As opposed to decimation, which I know is sexier for fantasists and one-trick ponies.

    29. raz — on 5th April, 2007 at 2:18 pm  

      mirax,

      Whatever discrimination Hindus/Sikhs may face in Pakistan/Bangladesh, they are much better off than a Muslim in India, who is subject to genocide in Kashmir, slaughtered in mass pogroms such as Gujurat/Ayhodoa and as the recent Sachar report shows on average is treated even worse than a Dalit. India’s treatment of minorities is arguably one of the worst in the entire world, and Sunny is absolutely right to bring it up.

    30. justforfun — on 5th April, 2007 at 9:25 pm  

      Sid - “migration” indeed - sounds so innocent, sort of looking for a better life abroad, or would the Vested Property Act have anything to do with it? Better not let these sorts of ideas get out or we could get the same sort of thing here.

      Justforfun

    31. mirax — on 5th April, 2007 at 10:30 pm  

      Yes Sid, there was no genocide in Bangladesh in 1971 - of 3 million people and of course the hindu community was not a particular target within that genocide. Of course there weren’t also 10 million refugees pouring into India. But yes a few of those million, very very few mind you, might have been lighthearted hindus, swinging their picnic baskets as they skipped back into India.

      I am not from Malaysia. But want to know what religious minorities are doing in Malaysia right now - Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Taoists? All across the country and in temples, churches and homes for the next two weeks? Holding mass prayer vigils - totally unprecedented - to protest recent court rulings that have eroded fundamental religious and legal rights of non-muslims.

      http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=8911&size=A

      But of course the details of what has been happening in Malaysia or Indonesia to religious minorities over the last few years just aint sexy enough for PP, not even as a flippant throwaway line.

    32. Sid — on 6th April, 2007 at 12:06 am  

      mirax, let’s get this right - are you saying that the population of Hindus that dropped to 10% after the formation of Bangladesh caused by genocide?

      That’s a lot more than the 3 million that includes mostly Muslims that is factually attributable to Tikka Khan. But are you suggesting that 10% of the drop in population was caused by genocide by Pakistan?

      I notice the dearth of any links in your posts…

    33. Tahir — on 6th April, 2007 at 12:49 am  

      “Wow, that’s a claim and a half. The persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh is terrible - but approaching to say it approaches genocide levels is a claim I haven’t heard before. I know you’re on a roll, but could I trouble you for some facts, please”

      Interesting though, that until recently people didn’t even know there was any genocide in bangladesh so if we are now taking about persecuation of Hindus in genocidal terms, it seems that lots of people are mis-using the term genocide.

      There is a saying in India which is worth sharing for the moment. India is always troubled by what goes on in West Bengal - why? Because whatever happens here is replicated nationally and so any ethnic/religious strife is repressed like mad to avoid repurcussions elsewhere. It kinda explains the Indian govt’s response to the Naxalite movements in North-East India at the moment - which are less about ethnic difference and more about strife over land rights and protests which will spill over elsewhere. Hence the Indian govt’s attempts to keep the Naxalites and Maoists in Nepal outside of India..

      For those of us who are interested in treatment of religious/ethnic minorites, Nepal is currently raging news about this issue, right now, with a fragile peace process after ten years of war waged by the Maoists, it would be good to see what transpires in that country where exclusion of dalits and scheduled caste has been cause of civil war for the last decade. And role of India as regional superpower, as in the case of Bangladesh in 71, has been instrumental.

    34. Tahir — on 6th April, 2007 at 12:55 am  

      Oh forget to mention .. Treatment of minorities…

      Yesterday I was stopped in the car with my family in Victoria, London, as part of the prevention of terrorism act, random spot check , i was told.

      Random = Asian.

      Well, I was travelling with my three sisters and a baby and we were told to get out of the car and bags strip searched..

      So guess this is what it means to be a religious minority - we’re disporportionaly subject to random terrorism checks. Nice one. It was all the more stranger because we’d just returned from a holiday in Syria where people and police seemed better behaved - at least on public streets.

    35. Sid — on 6th April, 2007 at 12:55 am  

      Yes Sid, there was no genocide in Bangladesh in 1971 - of 3 million people and of course the hindu community was not a particular target within that genocide. Of course there weren’t also 10 million refugees pouring into India. But yes a few of those million, very very few mind you, might have been lighthearted hindus, swinging their picnic baskets as they skipped back into India.

      I know you’re trying hard to score some cheap point with that flippant passage, but for the life of me, I really don’t know what. You don’t have to tell mw about the genoide in Bangladesh, because my family lost members to Pakistan’s purge, so please, spare us the righteous rarse-klaart. Hindus were certainly targetted, but they were indiscrminate and most of the dead were Muslim peasants. I don’t see you mention that - just your usual point-scoring on sectarian lines. As per usual.

    36. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 10:05 am  

      Tahir,
      Are you super-sure it was random? I’m speculating of course, since you came back from Syria. Don’t want to make you paranoid, but who knows what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to routine counter-terrorist policy.
      Strip searched? Ahem, really? I assume that was an error on your part.
      And so what about the three sisters and baby — why should that make a difference, pray tell?

      Don’t get me wrong, I DO sympathise. HONEST I DO. I too would be cheesed off if I was randomly stopped by plod, especially if “stripped searched” in the middle of Victoria.
      But are you saying you would rather live in Syria? So what’s stopping you?

    37. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 10:08 am  

      Sid, Mirax, Raz.. I think there is a way out of this impasse: Blame it on the white man, better still the British Empire.

    38. Sid — on 6th April, 2007 at 11:00 am  

      hee hee.

      The only impasse I can see is mirax trying to arse-talk her way into the Amir-shaped hole left on PP.

      ‘Don’t blame it on the sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, don’t blame it on the good times, blame it on the boogie’ is her favourite song. No prizes for guessing what ‘boogie’ is a euphemism for.

      cue the hysterics…

    39. Tahir — on 6th April, 2007 at 5:44 pm  

      “But are you saying you would rather live in Syria? So what’s stopping you?”

      Let’ see isn’t that what the BNP say when we complain about how we’re traeted in this country?

      When a white person complains about infringement of civil liberties, do we cry so go home or live somewhere else?

      Or do we take it as their God given right to be British because they is ethnically white?

      Ba flies to Syria twice a day - I wonder if the crew is strip searched.. So, no, I don’t think it was random, or because we were coming from Syria, ( lots of white tourists go to Syria as it’s got some of the best archeology sites in the world) but it was because we were Asian. My point was that it wasn’t random despite what they explained ( as they do) and it was coz I was an Asian male.

      But on reflection, if I had a UK salary, yes, I would live in Syria, and countless other parts of the developing world, as do lots of people, if the economics work out.

      Why else settle for UK weather? It’s as basic as this. This is why ethnically White Brits leave as soon as they can with their retirement kitty.

    40. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 5:54 pm  

      “Let’s see isn’t that what the BNP say when we complain about how we’re traeted in this country?”

      Yes it is, a bit risque for me don’t you think? However, if you’re going to compare your freedoms as a UK citizen to those of a Syrian, then you kind of deserve it.

      So were you strip-searched then in the middle of Victoria?

    41. Tahir — on 6th April, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

      El Cid

      Have you ever been on holiday and was treated nicely? As happens on holidays? Which is what happened to me in Damascus.

      When I arrived in the UK the MoD stopped me. My week in Syria was nicer. Fact.

      And so I didn’t do a Amnestry League check on freedom and human rights. You assumed.

      So now going to get a bit personal.

      It’s not risque of you to say what the BNP might say. It’s what my Dad sometimes used to say. Kinda what people who feel beholden to a country say - if you rock the boat, you should go live elsewhere. Far from risque.

      You presumably were not born in the UK?

      Those of us who were born here and also not ethnically white - complain a lot more.

      It’s part of the British tradition.

      Not Syrian as you will agree, no doubt.

    42. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 6:10 pm  

      Ouch! But I was born here amigo. It was my mum who came over on the sardine boat in search of work. Sorry.

    43. Tahir — on 6th April, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

      Oh dear, then even more worrying, I hd an excuse for my Dad…

      yes, ouch - I said was going to turn to the personal to stick to your precedent.

    44. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 7:35 pm  

      Yes, right, ok.

    45. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 7:48 pm  

      I’ve always wanted to go to Syria. Did you go with the kids?

    46. El Cid — on 6th April, 2007 at 7:50 pm  

      I just noticed btw, you said MoD. Did you get stopped by more than just the police?

    47. Tahir — on 7th April, 2007 at 12:09 am  

      Yes, both MoD and the police - but the MoD led. As you know - if the police stop you under the prevention of terrorism act, your name is on the register that’s associated with all the suspects they pick up - and each suspect they pick up ( like in Brick Lane at the moment - there were 8 lads picked up last week by the special crimes unit), is traced back to anyone else he/she might know on the register - so it’s kinda worrying, hence the sensitivity. Luckily the MoD don’t have the same powers.

      Yes, I went to Syria with the kiddies, and we had a lovely time, it is the more interesting/prettier place in the region compared to Lebanon or Jordon - it’s more affluent neighbours. Beautiful orange and lemon trees - not to mention olive groves and pistachio nuts scattered in the desert landscape , shishas, mezzes, ouds and so on..and some of the oldest monuments that can be traced back - and a town where they still speak Aramaic ( jesus language) But sadly the streets are littetered with visible presence of military/police in the country so also a little wierd.

      Sorry everyone for the boring postcard , I am making up with El Cid again…

    48. El Cid — on 10th April, 2007 at 4:49 pm  

      So what you do — stay in Damascus in a nice hotel and then venture out to the odd site? (My kids are v young — not sure how much they can tolerate)

    49. Tahir — on 10th April, 2007 at 11:15 pm  

      Stayed in Damascus first night and got out to see the whole country in 10 days - hired a car and went from one end of the country to the next and stayed in hotels in different towns. Our baby was 2 years old so the traffic in Damascus was too scary to let him run loose - so open countryside and desert is what kiddies will like better - and the ruins and monuments makes for great sites for kids to play in - fact , our little one treated every ancient site as his private playground. Thoroughly recommended! Really & truly. Highlights were the mother of all crusador castles in the world - Crac de Chavellior, the 3rd century Roman `dead cities, the Roman cities of desert oasis in Palmyra and the world’s working medieval wooden water winding wheels and ampitheatres to rival Rome, and the majestic Umayad Mosque in Damascus. In fact Islamic Syria is relatively modern phenomenon - and last but not least, visited Maluna, the place where they still speak Aramaic ( language jesus spoke) so all in all - archeology to die for. sorry for rambling all ….

    50. El Cid — on 10th April, 2007 at 11:23 pm  

      Nothing left from sumeria?

    51. Tahir — on 10th April, 2007 at 11:37 pm  

      Yes, there is, nearer the Euphrates where I didn’t go, north-east - but recommended if you want more time off Palmyra - def. what I would do if I had known..

    52. B Shantanu — on 12th April, 2007 at 5:42 am  

      Just came across this post…

      Some of you who have been commenting on the state of Muslims in India will find this interesting:

      http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/muslim-backwardness-may-be-myth/

      and http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/2007/01/22/literacy-rates-and-first-claims/

      Comments?

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