The Mainstream Narrative in Pakistan and the Muslim World
On Bahrain, the anti-Shia narrative goes like this:
“In Bahrain, the Hizbullahis and the racist Shia Arabs are lynching the Pakistan army and their supporters. The perfidious Shias are getting too uppity and need to be brought down and the status quo has to maintained at all costs. Period. “
If one deviates from the script that the situation in Bahrain is NO MORE than the Lebanese killing the Baloch, then they are labelled as Khomeini agents!
There is no mention of the decades-long struggle in Bahrain for equal citizenship rights or how a Sunni minority has suppressed a Shia majority for centuries. Similarly, there is NO mention of the fact that Bahrain has one of the oldest Shia communities in the world that predates Iran by more than 500 years.
Instead, ALL Shias are conflated as Iranian wannabe supporters of Khomeini and Ahmedinejad and as fifth columnists who are out to destroy an idyllic society. This same mantra of demonizing the oppressed has been used to brutalize Shias over the ages. In this dishonest depiction, all facts are discarded.
There is no mention of the fact that Bahrainis follow the Akhbari school within Shia Islam which does not accept the Wilayat-e- Faqih doctrine of Ayatullah Khomeini and his followers.
Neither is the fact that most Bahraini Shias espouse the Quietist views of Ayatullah Sistani and not the theocratic views of Ahmedinejad.
There are various Shia factions in Bahrain that range from the secular to the theocratic but nearly all support democracy and equal citizenship rights.
In the eyes of non-Shia sectarian apologists of Bahrain’s dictator Hamad Al Khalifa, this context is best swept under the carpet and the status quo has to be manitained at all costs. The tragedy in Bahrain is that many non-Shia Muslims who normally trumpet themselves as secular and liberal, are singing the same mantra as the Bahraini Khalifa, the Saudi despots and the Pakistani army generals.
Like some sections of the left who support the Taliban, these liberal and secular Muslims have allied themselves with the same forces that have done to them the greatest harm.
For the sectarian minded out to protect the status quo in Bahrain, none of the context matters.
Lynching of Pakistan Expats
A favourite tactic is to only highlight the lynching of Pakistani expats by Bahraini mobs and deliberately leave out everything else. While much of this comes from highly unreliable sources, any such lynching must be condemned. However to simply stress on this and not mention the firing squads on Bahraini protesters by the same Pakistani mercenaries, is the height of dishonesty. There is no mention of the widespread torture, imprisonment and State supported disenfranchisement of the Bahraini Shia democrat activists by the Khalifa regime.
Role of Pakistan Army and Mercenaries
The role of the Pakistani army and its direct involvement along with the army of Saudi Arabia is deplorable as is the role of those who are distorting the facts in their favour.
In Bangladesh and Balochistan, only the elitist supporters of the Pakistan army equate violence of the Mukhti Bahinis and the Baloch Nationalists with that of the Pakistan army. No one else does this.
Fair minded individuals support the genuine grievances of the Baloch today, just as they supported the genuine grievances of the Bangladeshis, both of which started from 1947-48. The same thing is happening in Bahrain today and the role of the Pakistan army and intelligentsia is truly disappointing. Prejudice is blind.
Only the prejudiced equate the violence on both sides as equal in terms of force and morality. The situation in Bahrain and in Parachinar should serve as an eye opener to Shia Muslims, not just in Pakistan but all over the world. They have to realize that it is the Judeo-Christain intelligentsia of the West that possess the moral and intellectual integrity to accept the oppression and targeting of Shias by other Muslims. The “Ummah” hates the Shias.
Voices of Support
From the New York Times (referred to as Jew York Times by the Anti-Semitic supporters of the Pakistan army) to Huffington Post and from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch, individuals of conscience like Nicholas Kristoff and others have highlighted the dire situation in Bahrain and the brutal and violent crackdown that exclusively targeted the pro-democracy Shia protesters.
Silence of Sunni Muslims (except the odd few)
As someone whose mother is from the Pushtun Hindu community that is based in Peshawar and Swat, I can vouch for the fact that the Hindus in Pakistan and India have always been supportive of Shias and have wholeheartedly participated in Muharram commemoration. In my travels in America and Europe, Christains and Jews, atheists and secularists have all been supportive and respectful of my Shia identity.
In the Muslim world, there is a defeaning silence against the brutalities committed on Shias by extremist Muslims. From the persecution of Shias of Kano and Sokoto in Nigeria to those in Malaysia, one can literally count a handful of non-Shia Muslims who have raised a voice. If these issues are ever discussed, they are falsely presented as an equal violence between Shias and Sunnis with greater blame being placed on Shias. When Shia mosques and shrines are destroyed by suicide bombers and scores are killed, the Shias are blamed! Today, the only group that seek to make the Shias extinct from this planet are non-Shia Muslims and Shias must never make the mistake of expecting any sympathy from them, exceptions not withstanding.
While I still respect and love my Sunni Muslim friends, I know that with only a few exception I can generally not count on them to understand or sympathize with my condition. We share our Indo-Pak heritage but our faith communities should proceed in different directions. Whenever Shias express concern over the massacre of other Shias, they are labelled as “sectarian bigots” by their own fellow non-Shia muslims. For the latter, the persecution of Shias is not to be talked about and is therefore perfectly acceptable. Shias all over the world have to realize that they can only survive in secular democracies and never in Muslim majority or Islamic States.
Examples of obfuscation and misrepresentations on Twitter