Bombs targeting Christians is extremism, but our everyday bigotry isn't?

Published April 1, 2016
People point out that more Muslims died than Christians. Is this consolation or schadenfreude? — AP/File
People point out that more Muslims died than Christians. Is this consolation or schadenfreude? — AP/File

Words ought to fail us. But we can't afford the luxury of that failure anymore than we can afford the luxury of all the other potential failures staring us in the face as this phase of the 21st century performs a fractured, farcical, obscene repeat of the third decade of the twentieth.

Bombs. Suicide attacks. Drones. Bodies of Baloch youth turning up tortured and destroyed on roadsides. Death is the norm as alliances implode. America, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia bicker like graceless divorcees who don't know how to move on.

Examine: Killings in Balochistan

You might call the jihadis children of this marriage, but in this custody battle, everyone fights to give away the children who, in turn, are determined to eat their parents.

Vitriol against Muslims and Mexicans sweeps America, internment camps, repatriation, walls, bans on travel.

Amidst declining oil prices and more disasters to come, the Saudis crush dissidence and abduct their own princes in luxury airplanes: rendition for the oil rich.

Pakistan reaps the brutal, devastating benefits of years of state policy, grandly bankrolled by the US and Saudi Arabia.

And no. Not just the cultivation of the jihadis in the service of delusions of regional grandeur and "strategic depth," all other kinds managing to elude our "leaders."


People point out that more Muslims died than Christians. Is this consolation or schadenfreude? In any case, what do we with that fact? To what end does one point this out if one is a Muslim? Are we addressing the jihadis?


I write of the quieter, cumulative bigotries we have nourished, through indifference, silence and outright cultivation.

Non-existent schools (although they do exist on paper), deliberate and systematic attempts at de-vernacularising progressive thought, a state intent on being in a relation of permanent counterinsurgency with all its citizens (although, of course, the Baloch are especially loved in this regard).

A state refusing to address the condition of minorities from its very inception.

Explore: Minority matters

J.N. Mandal saw the signs and left. Minorities howled about the anti-minoritarian tendencies already manifest at the earliest constituent assemblies, only of course to be ignored.

The Munir report released and well...ignored. Constitutional amendments against Ahmadis under "secular" leadership that enshrined discrimination, formalising the bigotry of events like the attack on Rabwah put into place. Shias assassinated in Punjab in the eighties.

Take a look: A guide to growing up Ahmadi in Pakistan

Christians rigorously persecuted at the same time. Bishop John Joseph committed suicide to protest the persecution of Christians — did we notice?

The bigoted application of the "blasphemy" law, the attempted indigenisation of Chapter 15 of the Indian (subsequently Pakistan) Penal Code of 1860/62 normalised.

People talk about extremism taking over. But let's be clear: extreme is a relative term, a measure of degree.

"Extreme" — so not the centre, or ordinary, or usual. What does it mean to talk about extremism when brutality has become the norm?

See: As a minority, it is the everyday discrimination that hurts me most

If bombs aimed at Christians are extremist, is the circulation of terms like chura and achut ordinary, usual, "moderate"?

We miss being a part of India so much we decided to hang on to the idiom of caste bigotry just to feel at home.

And now Lahore was attacked and there seems surprise. One should ask: Why?

What tacit understanding led us to believe it could be protected as each other part of the country and every segment of its population slowly burned. Karachi burned in the eighties and nineties but Lahore was safe. Balochistan burned but Lahore was safe.

And, and, and...was it really? Should we be pleased that we can still be surprised or horrified that this is the surprise we can muster?

The viciousness is aimed at Christians this time.

Read: From labourer to minorities crusader: The story of MPA Khalil Sindhu

People point out that more Muslims died than Christians. Is this consolation or schadenfreude? In any case, what do we with that fact? To what end does one point this out if one is a Muslim? Are we addressing the jihadis?

As in: you killed the wrong people. Is that an implicit acknowledgement that killing the right people is well...right? I don't think that's what people mean when they point out the attack killed more Muslims than Christians. It does, however, seem a symptom of a profound moral aphasia.

Out of which side of our mouth do we speak when we do point it out? What does it mean that this was an attack on Christians at Easter and the Muslims were just collateral damage?

Let's try to be precise in our grief, rage and helplessness and list some names: Bishop John Joseph, Shantinagar, Manzoor Masih, Ayub Masih, Gojra, Rimsha Masih, Aasia Bibi, the twin church blasts in Peshawar, Shahbaz Bhatti and...memorise this list. Expand it. Write an unconsoling history.

Now add the names of the dead of Lahore. All of them. And mourn, all of us, together.

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