Yet another Ashura has passed and the government has succeeded in ensuring that no major catastrophes took place. Mourners were kept safe from attacks with the help of heightened security, bans on pillion riding on motorcycles, the deployment of extra security personnel and, of course, barred cellular services. This time, the government went a step ahead to block internet access in many areas too, in order to ensure that no atrocity against the mourners could take place. Well, we deserve a pat on the back for keeping the minorities safe. But does two days of beefing up security mean that the minorities are truly safe in the country? The fact that such extreme measures had to be taken itself reflects on how severe the threats to members of minorities are.

The fact that we have to go to the extent of restricting the masses’ access to the internet reveals what an intolerant society we have become. While many people conveniently blame militant groups for everything that happens against the Shia community, what we fail to acknowledge is the fact that when a great number of ordinary, non-militant individuals fail to respect the Shia ideology and that tolerance for this sect is close to nil amongst many ‘educated’ and ‘liberal’ individuals as well.

While scrolling through my news feed (luckily my internet hadn’t been cut off), I came across a very interesting post by a Shia friend. He had mentioned that he found it funny how everyone became a self proclaimed ‘Mullah’ and started issuing digital fatwas against the Shia during Ashura. Individuals who are never seen to be discussing Islam suddenly become experts on which version of the religion is correct and which version is not acceptable. People who have probably never bothered reading up on the basics of Islam start criticizing the Shia community with facts supported by sayings of the Prophet they’ve probably come across on social media.

Hatred for the Shia community is brewing in a similar manner that hatred for the Ahmaddiya community once sprouted in the hearts of the citizens of the ‘land of the pure’. We all know how that ended.

Then again, the masses’ intolerance towards a religious group cannot be criticized when the Constitution of a country openly discriminates against a minority. The simple act of ‘posing as Muslims’ can land members of the Ahmaddiya community in prison for 3 years where they are very likely to be harassed and even killed by other inmates. When the Constitution of a country takes away a group’s freedom to practice their faith, intolerance is bound to brew in the country. This discrimination within the Constitution of the country is what encourages the masses to discriminate against other minorities too.  This encourages the ‘majority’ to believe that the law is incapable of granting protection to its minorities.

It’s funny how the safety of the Shia community becomes a sudden major concern for the country during Ashura when members of the same community are victimized by target killers and are the main attraction of hate crimes. Two days of security is followed up by a whole year of threats. It should be a source of shame for the community to realize that this group of mourners needs protection from its fellow citizens. Had we been a tolerant society, the need for all this additional security wouldn’t arise.