Rescuers stand near a child injured by a firing, at a local hospital in Dera Ismail, Pakistan on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010. According to police official unidentified gunmen opened fire on a procession celebrate anniversary of the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.(AP photo/Ishtiaq Mehsud)
The 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal is celebrated by Muslims in Pakistan as the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (peace by upon him and his progeny). In particular, Sunni Barelvi Muslims organize large public meetings and rallies on that day in the memory of the Prophet.
It is however a known fact that certain Muslim sects (e.g. Wahhabi and Deobandi) term such ceremonies of the Eid Mila-un-Nabi as shirk (polytheism) and biddat (innovation in religion).
Everyone is entitled to their own interpretation and practice of religion as long as it does not lead to violence or hate speech. However, the situation gets ugly when some extremist element within one sect try to superimpose their interpretation of Islam and Quran on other sects through the use of violence.
This is exactly what happened in D.I. Khan and Faisalabad on the most sacred day of the birthday of the Prophet, when extremist Deobandis and Wahhabis belonging to Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked peaceful public rallies of Barelvi Muslims. Scores of Barelvi Muslims were killed or injured in these two separate (but ideologically interconnected) incidents.
The question is, why are these news items being censored or misrepresented in Pakistani media?
Here is a plain answer. The pro-Taliban (extremist Deobandi-Wahhabi) lobby, funded and supported by Saudi Arabia (through the ISI and mullahs) is extremely influential in Pakistani media. The pro-Taliban jihadi and sectarian youth serve to act as a proxy army for the ISI’s operations in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
Hence, they would not allow an exposure of the real face of their evil ideology and its proponents to the Pakistani nation, the majority of whom follow a peaceful Barelvi, Sufi tradition of Islam. Therefore, they are misrepresenting the horrible incidents of D.I.Khan and Faisalabad as sectarian violence.
It is not sectarian violence. It is not a fight between Deobandis and Barelvis. It is a fight between extremism and multiculturalism. It is a fight between tolerance and intolerance. It is a fight between the followers of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mullah Omar.
It is not sectarianism. It is terrorism. The state must use its full force to protect peaceful Barelvis (and other vulnerable groups) from violence by well trained and well equipped terrorists of Taliban and Sipah-e-Sahaba.