Although no threat existed to the Hindu population during their Holi celebration, the National Student’s Federation of Pakistan decided it would be a good method of promoting interfaith love. There are 4.5 Million Hindus in Pakistan and the Hindu-Mulsim communities have never been closer.
The human shield was formed around the Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi, a 160 year old Hindu temple. From the creation of Pakistan, all religions have always been given the right to practise freely however when tensions flare with neighbouring India, the Pakistani Hindus worry that this is not linked to them.
In neighbouring India, Gujarat’s Chief Minister, under whom there was the deadliest of massacres of Muslims, has become Prime Minister. The election of Narendar Modi raised sentiments in Pakistan and for Indian Muslims. Worrying scenes engulfed both nations when Hindu Extremists forced 57 Muslims to convert to Hinduism and when Hindu extremists such as Yogi Adityanath called on a packed crowed of his followers to dig up dead Muslim women and rape them. The problems with Hindu extremism didn’t stop at Muslims, recently a Hindu extremist mob beat up a Christian leader.
Naturally the peaceful majority on both ends of the subcontinent became worried about retaliations or further escalation. Tensions between India and Pakistan reached new heights when Modi became PM however were quickly diffused when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not only attended Modi’s inauguration but went further to buy Modi’s mother a Saree as a gift.
Pakistan’s Many Religions
This recent gesture from inside Pakistan could not have come at a better time to encourage positive competition across the border. In the face of religious intolerance and extremism in the Muslim community, Pakistan seems to have stuck to the original teachings of Islam where non-Muslims are given religious protection from persecution or forced conversion.
Muslims in Pakistan are taught Islamic teachings including two verses of the Quran:
‘Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity’
‘There is no compulsion (force) in religion…’
Pakistani Muslims seem to have taken a leaf from the book of their other Muslim brothers across the globe. Recently we saw heart warming pictures of Muslims forming a human shield around a synagogue in Norway to protect Jewish worshippers as Anti-Semitic attacks had risen. Unfortunately Danish authorities prevented Muslims from doing the same in Denmark.
A New Gesture from Muslims?
However this is not a recent phenomenon. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest of Christian sites in Jerusalem, two Palestinian Muslims guard the entrance of the Holy Sepulchre. Muslim guardsmen have stood at the gate of this Christian site since the 12th Century.
In 1453 when Ottomon Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople, he gave religious freedoms to all Christian, in stark contrast to when Crusaders killed all Muslims and Jews of Jerusalem when they conquered the city.
This recent news from Pakistan has reignited an old love between Muslims and Hindus in both India and Pakistan. Perhaps the future is belongs to the silent peaceful majority.