The global political scene witnessed a welcome change. A man was elected to be the mayor of London on the basis of his agenda and program. His personal belief and what he chose to do in his private sphere – i.e. whether he worships the true God or the wrong God – was discounted. And that too in the midst of a politically charged environment which was made venomous by his opponents by judging him through the faith he belonged to and making his belief in a faith equivalent to his shared guilt in atrocious acts committed by other people who also believe in a version of that faith. But bigotry was shown the door, the resilience of secular democracy set in and the Londoners decided on the merits of the candidates rather than being blinded by whooping stereotypes.

Islam, like any other religion, has varied interpretations and multiple strains. Sadiq Khan , the newly elected mayor, made it clear in unequivocal terms that he is not a spokesman for the Muslims by virtue of him being a Muslim. He is representative of people of London but he showed vision when he claimed that Muslims should come forward and denounce the terrorists who are maiming in the name of their religion. Not because Muslims are collectively responsible for the terror or because Muslims are guilty-by-association, but because Muslims can be more effective in the fight against them. Coming out against terrorism and extremism in name of Islam will bolster the counter-narrative and delegitimize the narrative of Islamists and jihadists.

While Sadiq Khan is a manifestation of a liberal and enlightened strain of Islam, people who share and are inspired from the same sacred texts as him have been presenting a complete anti-thesis to his beliefs, his values, words and his actions. A group of Islamists charged a Christian of blasphemy and on this pretext a whole colony of Christians was threatened of being set ablaze. The government intervened and the impending catastrophe was perhaps delayed to a more suitable date. Meanwhile this was happening in a vacuum. In a vacuum of apathy. In a vacuum of complete disinterest of the majority of Muslims of Mandi Bahauddin and of people of Pakistan by large. While people of Pakistan were celebrating or were feeling a sense of pride on one of them becoming a mayor of one of the largest cities of the world, thousands among them were having sleepless nights in the apprehension that what had happened earlier to people of their faith may also be their fate. A contrast to the lives of minorities living under the secular democracies of the West.

People could have come forward and presented a counter-narrative to the narrative of those insistent upon setting ablaze a whole colony. This coming forward would have done more in giving the minorities living in Pakistan a sense of security than the guarantees of law enforcement agencies. What is witnessed is the impunity with which the guardians of Islamism and jihadism go on perpetuating their narrative and the ‘bystander’ looks of overwhelming majority of the Muslim population. In a milieu where after every bomb-blast carried by Islamists the majority lashes at hypocrisy of the West for not lighting their buildings in colors of flag of the beleaguered country and lashing Facebook for not enabling safety-checks, the narrative of the Islamists will go unchecked and unchallenged.

Pakistan once had 23 percent non-Muslim population which has now been dwindled to 3 percent. The main reason is the sense of persecution among minorities and the complete lack of interest of the larger population to make amends for their oppression. The Islamists are a tiny minority but their narrative is the dominant one. We can contribute in delegitimizing the Islamists, not because we are one of them or they one of us, but because we can be more effective in this regard. May be one day the version of overwhelming majority of Islam can guide our lives and we can be proud of electing ‘one of us’ as a mayor of one of our own cities.