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Blame the victim: DAWN newspaper’s role in Shia Genocide

The Taliban regime of Mullah Omer ruled Afghanistan, or at least a majority of Afghan territory, from 1995 till October 2001 when the US began a retaliatory military campaign against the country to avenge the September 11th terrorist attacks.

During this period, the Taliban attained world-wide notoriety for their despotic rule and obscurantist policing of Afghan society. Women, minority sects and some ethnic groups were the hardest hit communities under the Taliban fiat. Such communities have greatly benefited from the wave of freedom that swept through the country as the Taliban militia slowly but surely gave way to the NATO-backed opposition Northern Alliance forces in Operation Enduring Freedom.

It is a known fact that, under Taliban rule, the Shia community of Afghanistan was barred from holding mourning processions in public to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson, Imam Hussain (A.S). Coupled with the brutal campaign of wanton violence and massacre of the Shia community that went along with it, the Taliban left no stone unturned in making sure that the Shias were exterminated from Afghanistan, both physically and socially.

Sadly, for the past few years the Shia community of Pakistan too has been facing the brunt of a relentless campaign of targeted assasinations orchestrated by Sunni extremist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah Sahaba Pakistan and Ahle-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat. The leaders of these sectarian organisations inexplicably enjoy absolute freedom while propagating their hateful ideologies that encourage the slaughter of more innocent Shia Pakistanis. What’s even more baffling is the veiled, latent support the cause of these terrorists gets from some individuals and organisations that are, for better or worse, perceived as being of liberal orientation!

Case in point: the veteran Pakistani English-language Dawn newspaper. An eminent name in Pakistani journalism, Dawn was a bequest to the Muslims of India by their foremost political leader, the Ismaili Shia lawyer from Sindh, Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah. For years, it suffered the unjust denial of government advertisements for its resolute adherence to objective, fair and un-biased journalism. But like so many institutions in Pakistan, Dawn too has buckled before the vagaries of sectarianism.

The opinion poll on DAWN.COM home page
Result of the opinion poll

Featured on DAWN newspaper’s official website is an opinion poll that asks whether Shia mourning processions of Moharram should be forced indoors and done in small numbers to ensure their safety. As opposed to large, public processions that have been the usual practise for all these years. This poll came online after a series of terrorist attacks that targeted Shia congregations and places of worship in Pakistan’s major cities in the days leading up to the Ashura commemorations. Instead of calling for greater security for sensitive gatherings and locations or for the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for instigating and carrying out these sectarian attacks, the team at Dawn.com would have the Shia community go underground to stay alive!

This poll and a related DAWN.COM blog suggesting the same are sadly reminiscent of the Taliban who also denied the Shias of Afghanistan the right to hold Ashura processions in public. Such sectarian bias is grossly out of character for Dawn newspaper and the legacy it inherited and that its owner, Mr Hameed Haroon, maintained in the publication of record that I grew up with. The editors and management of Dawn Media Group should take note of this anomaly and remedy it for the sake of their decades old, unblemished reputation.

About the author

Ravez Junejo

Proud Sindhi and PPP supporter. Pakistan's first iReporter for CNN International. The world's nicest guy.


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  • Dawn has raised a very strong voice against the shia genocide in Pakistan.However, it is to remind each and everyone that these processions will never ever be stopped at any cost.If this kind of activity repeats in dawn it would be condemned in a civilized and educated manner.

  • Dawn.com have set polling but you can’t say that it is enough to call Dawn.com as partner in ShiaGenocide. Please LUBP don’t try to make people foolish by writing such insane articles and giving low value logic of proving a social media against Shiites. The articles on LUBP just seem to have the cause of making enemies against Shiite believers.

  • Qadir, I am amazed at your leaps of logic.

    Let me get this straight. Instead of INFORMING the public about the danger of the Taliban and creating consensus, DAWN goes the other way and promotes a discussion with the same biased premise as that of the Shia killing Lashkar-e-Jhangvi?

    And you don’t expect Pakistanis who have conscience like Ravez bhai to highlight this??

    What rubbish! And then you say that an article that bases its strenght on arguement and mildly critisizes DAWN for its extremely insensitive and biased posturing is creating enemies for the Shias? Your point makes no sense.

  • I say ban everything. Ban the Shias altogether and request DAWN editor Zaffar Abbas to change his name to Abu Sufiyan – a real muslim patriot just like my idol, the Pakistani patriot Ejaz Haider.

    And then ban 12 Rabi ul Awwal as well as Christmas and Bhittai day and Diwalli. These all cause a great deal of inconvinience and heartburn to our asset like Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat aka Laskhar Jhangvi aka Sipah Sahaba and to our Taliban. We need them more than we need the rest of Pakistan – for our strategic depth. I am a Jinnah Institute European Parisien Liberal and I endorse this message. Three Cheers for Qadir’s great comment.

  • @BashirMalik, I am also amazed by your point straightness. I am also not in the favor of creating such poles on the Media but at least Ravez had not to write the whole purpose of dawn to be the party in Shia Genocide that logic isn’t enough to convince dear and also the exaggerated words of you used in your comment.

  • shia community could not eliminate by the aggression and babarity of bani umiyah and bani abbas cruel Rulars, so no one can stop it

  • Each community, while abiding by laws of the country, has a right to express its sentiments. Real teaching of Islam asks for tolerance. Great prophet of Islam Muhammad (SAW) even advised the Muslims not to call with bad names to the holy entities of other religions lest they start calling your holy entities with bad names. Main lesson is tolerance and accommodation for others. Intention of move by Dawn looks fishy. Instead asking the nation to follow the real teachings of Islam, asking one community to go in low profile speaks of some thing else. So the author of the article has a point.

  • @Hussain Right you are, Sir. I personally have been very saddened at the very apparent bias that has developed in DAWN news’s content.

    @Qadir Please show me the part where I accused Dawn news of encouraging the killing of Shia Muslims or doing so itself! All that I have pointed out here is Dawn’s negative contribution to the national conversation on Shia genocide. In a very simple sense, the title of this post implied that Dawn has played a (probably inadvertant) role in the persecution of Shias by advising them to literally go underground to save themselves as if their religious customs are the offensive factors that attract murderous rage towards them!

    And NOWHERE have I claimed that Dawn’s “whole purpose” was hating on Shias! I didn’t even know newspapers had just one purpose they doggedly pursued.

  • @BashirMalik Sir I really appreciate your spirited defence of my post! Here at LUBP, our editorial team doesn’t ascribe to a sacred cow policy. Whoever they may be, this blog points out any wrong act an individual or institution commits. This post abt the anti-Shia poll on DAWN.COM is a case in point.

    Miss @Ayesha and Mr @ZubairKhan I agree with you both. I wonder if you noticed the results of the poll in the second picture of this post. Tells you a lot about the mindset of the kids on the internet, almost all of whom are rabid PTI followers.

  • Ravez, the post defends itself quite well. It is much needed and it shows the world that the situation in Pakistan is not a Sunni-Shia problem.

    Thousands of Sunnis have been killed in attacks on Sufi shrines and in market places and on roads. The 200+ killed in the Karsaz blast were just your average Pakistanis who had come to welcome back Shaheed Mohtarma.

    Same for the thousands of PPP and ANP Pashtuns who appose the Taliban. And thanks to LUBP for making this clear and for showing that Sunni muslims in Pakistan are at the forefront in standing up for their Shia countrymen.

    DAWN has slipped badly under Zaffar Abbas and his protege Cyril Almeida. The media must be held to account even more so because it is an Un-Elected body and in Pakistan, the corporate media continues to go to new lows in lies and bias.

    Ravez, keep up the good work!

  • A practical solution was presented by the author in the wake ohoccassions , No one has argued to ban the taking ouy of processions in such huge numbers just for the security resons. The security of mourners take precedence over all other things. There are ways to mourn and take out small processionsf targetted killings of individuals belonging to Shia Community. We have lived together and are followers of the same religion the ISLAm. There are no difference of belief on fundamentals. Theeb only difference in mourning and remembering the Shadat of IMam Husian and taking out processions on small scale. We can work out the details or the plans. It is not feasible to provide largge contingent of securityto more than 500 processios on same day.

    Let us make peace over this issue and think practical ways to provide security in the given circumstances

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