Respect for all religions by Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani

The recent unwanted incident that happened in France has once again proved that there are a few people in every society who are more interested in spreading chaos in the name of religion.

In fact, such elements are not only responsible for creating anarchic situations in their own society but also provide excuses to extremists on the other side for reacting in violent and aggressive ways.

Similarly, some ignorant people consider targeting other religions as a way to prove supremacy of their religion. Internationally, the 9/11 tragedy resulted in creating misunderstandings and conflicts among different faiths. However, we must understand that the hijackers were trying to achieve their political agenda which has nothing to do with any religion. The tragic incident was widely condemned by every faith leader.

Therefore, it is entirely unfair to link any specific religion to terrorism due to individual acts of some extremist elements. Unfortunately, this unjust practice could be witnessed in almost every part of the world, where extremist elements belonging to the majority population are targeting vulnerable minorities and other faiths.

For example, the fascist policies of the current Indian government led by the BJP are a big question mark over India’s claim of secularism. Similarly, some followers of peace-loving Buddha are involved in the massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Iraq and few other countries are in hot waters due to sectarian riots against minorities. In New Zealand, a mosque was attacked by an extremist. Even in our country Pakistan, some extremists believe that it is their religious duty to attack the sacred places of worship belonging to the peace-loving Hindu community. Recent attacks on Hindu temples in Nagarparkar and Badin are part of this ongoing intolerance and prejudice in our society.

Sometime ago, when Bilawal Bhutto Zardari attended the Diwali function arranged by the local Hindu community, his photos were linked to Hindu religious figures and went viral on social media. Similarly, when former prime minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his wish to celebrate Holi, he was widely criticized by some religious circles. On the issue of establishing a Hindu temple in Islamabad, photoshopped photos of PM Imran Khan with Shankar Bhagwan went viral on social media. It is quite unfortunate that no political leader has ever ever made such irresponsible political workers accountable for their irresponsible and indecent actions.

If a Muslim tries to celebrate Diwali or congratulate someone on Christmas then he/she must be ready to face a hateful propaganda. We must understand that such positive gestures in fact help understand the religious beliefs of others and demonstrates commitment to promote interfaith harmony in the best interest of society.

Whenever religion was used for political purposes, it resulted in the deterioration of society and brought a bad name for humanity at a larger scale. A leader of a nation has a great responsibility to control extremist elements and curb social evils. In our modern history, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown her leadership skills in a very brilliant way. In response to the attack on a mosque, she came forward immediately to play a positive role and ensured her people that all faiths are equally respected in the eyes of the state. It is the prime responsibility of a government to provide protection for all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations.

No doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic is presently the most serious challenge to the world but on the other side, it has brought believers of all religions closer. Today, everyone must focus to strengthen cooperation for the survival of human lives.

Today, the holy day of Eid Milad-un-Nabi, also demands us to implement the peaceful teachings of the last Prophet (pbuh) which are based on tolerance, patience and brotherhood in our practical lives. We should join hands with all the peace-loving communities for ensuring respect to every religion. Under the guise of freedom of expression, the blasphemous acts in Western world must be condemned by all faith leaders.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani