|A police officer shows guns and ammunition recovered from Taliban insurgents|
who storm Ahmadiyya mosque and massacred 86 worshipers. - Photo by AP
The attacks are the culmination of years of un-policed persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which is a minority sect in Pakistan. In 1974 government legislation was passed that declared Ahmadiyya Muslims to be 'non-Muslim' and in 1984 further legislation was passed in which the practice of their faith was outlawed. At regular intervals since then Ahmadiyya Muslims have been attacked, but the May 28th massacre is the most cruel and barbaric. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who are based in 195 countries, are peace loving and tolerant people and yet they are continually targeted by extremist factions.
In America, the opium of religious intolerance has once again addicted her right-wing Christian fundamentalist elements. Their irrational attacks on American Muslims by the GOP's leadership not only runs counter to the American ideal of religious tolerance, but poses a threat to our national security. Rants by the GOP leadership have instigated a fire storm of hatred, fear and religious bigotry from the likes of Joe, the Plumber to Mary, the Cashier. This xenophobic behavior reinforces the perception that the U.S. is obsessively anti-mosque, anti-Muslim, and anti-Islam.
Christian Fundamentalism is to America what the Muslim Fundamentalist is to Pakistan. Muslim Fundamentalist in Pakistan spawned the Taliban insurgents, which massacred 86 Ahmadiyya Muslims in a fit of religious intolerance. Likewise, in America, the day will not be far off when the flames of religious intolerance incite individuals and groups of Christian zealots to murder in the name of God unless people speak out and act out against Islamophobia.
America is a multicultural society; Its religious landscape is diverse and the people are encouraged to exhibit the will to frame America's future in the light of its founding principles. The principles that support freedom of religion are more relevant now than ever. The notion that America is a Christian centered nation, when viewed in the light of its religious diversity, is the thinking of theorist. In practice America strives when it rises to meet the standards of its founding principles. Its greatness rest on its ability to shape a future where its citizens have freedom of religion. We must "try real hard to understand that bumping into your neighbor’s customs and faith ought to bring you a sense of warmth, curiosity, and compassion—not fear, not revenge ..."
Above it all we don't want America to be reduced to a Pakistan. Pakistan, a country founded on noble principles, but after 60 years its government has made it a capital crime for its religious minorities to practice their religion.
In the words of Rabia Munawar Mir, contributing writer for the Muslim Sunrise magazine, "Pakistan is a nation in turmoil. It is a nation condemned by the international community for harboring extremists in its borders. It is a nation condemned by its citizens for being unable to provide basic public security services. It is a nation condemned by democratic standards wherein a running candidate's assassination becomes a rouse for giving power to her poorly educated husband. It is a nation condemned by human rights groups that constantly scream "wolf" loud and clear and without the fear of threat to their own lives. And though every time there is a wolf, they go unheard, ignored, their voices suppressed beneath a deluge of political excuses and administrative flaws" (Muslim Sunrise, Fall 2010, page 13).
We can not just standby and watch this happen to America. Every American citizen has the responsibility to preserve our religious freedom and our collective dignity as a nation.
Freedom of Religion Means Any Religion