But what about the Muslims in Burma? What about the Muslims in France? They are saying the girls can’t cover their faces now?

What about? What about?

We as Muslims seem to worry about every country there is where Muslims are a minority. We make sure we are loud, vocal and even aggressive in getting our voices heard. How dare they not treat us equally or give us the same rights as the other citizens! If we don’t get it, we shall take to the streets and demand it!

But when it comes to our country, Pakistan being the case this time, we remain quiet, conveniently ignorant about the reality outside the comforts of our homes. Our concern is more about the backyards of other nations rather than our own and we are always ready with stats and info when confronted, “but THIS happens in the US. But THAT happens in the UK!”

The latest case in the never-ending persecution of minorities by the extremists in Pakistan comes from Chak 44 in District Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab.

A total of 4,000 houses belong to Muslim households and about 45 to Christians in that area.  The Christians are unskilled and make both ends meet by working at the fields, little corner shops or houses of the local Muslims.

Each Christian (300 in all) has been told to either convert to Islam, leave the area or to hand over the biggest blasphemer Imran Masih so they can burn him alive in front of the single church in the locality, giving him the appropriate punishment that he deserves. Otherwise, all their homes will be torched leaving them homeless with nowhere to go. The boycott against them has already started with Muslims refusing to buy anything from them and not allowing them to go to work.

What could possibly have Imran Masih done that they want to kill him so brutally and to punish the whole village as well?

He made a video on his cell phone of a wedding he had attended of a Muslim colleague’s daughter. When he went back to work as a janitor at the local Health Care Centre, a colleague asked him to show him the clip. Imran gave him the phone and left to finish his work.

After his return, he saw his phone in the hands of another Muslim man Bilal who was playing a YouTube video of Pastor Sami Samson, widely known to be critical of Islam. He was showing the video to others claiming that Imran Masih watches such blasphemous material. It would be pertinent to mention here that Imran was the only Christian who worked at the Centre.

After beating him severely, with Imran constantly denying he ever watched such videos or even knew how to look them up, they locked him up in an empty room. He was eventually rescued by Committee members who requested that this matter be solved peacefully.

For the next two days, things seemed to be back to normal, that is until Maulvi Manzoor entered the scene advising Imran to run away as there was now a fatwa on his head for committing blasphemy.  Bilal, the man from before had made an official complaint to the ‘scholars’ about him. Imran was to be killed at all cost.

A local business man even announced a reward of Rs. 1 million ($10,000) for the person who murderedhim.

Imran did as he was advised and ran away. And now his whole community feels the brunt.

This would not be the first time that extremists have placed false blasphemy charges on Christians in order to “cleanse” their areas.

There was the case of Rimsha Masih, a young teen with Down Syndrome who was charged with blasphemy by Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chisti, an Imam of a local mosque. He had claimed that she had desecrated pages of the Quran.

Eventually, it was found out that the Imam had planted the burnt pages himself because he needed a strong enough reason to once again “cleanse” and “purify” his neighborhood of Christians.

Even though she was acquitted of all charges, after months of hiding, she and her family fled to Canada for if they had stayed, they still would have been murdered.

Iqbal was the only Christian who owned a barbershop in Sargodha. He was popular with everyone and business was good till one day an Imam visited him for the first time. Halfway through the beard trim, came the Adhan. The imam urged Iqbal to go pray with him and come back later to finish. When he informed him that he was a Christian, the enraged Imam grabbed his collar, “How dare you touch my beard! You have caused me to sin! You should have told me that you were a Christian!”

Iqbal begged for mercy, but the Imam told him that if he does not convert to Islam right away, he would come back later and make sure he is killed in a fitting manner.

Iqbal managed flee to Thailand, a country where thousands and thousands of Pakistani Christians run to seek refuge and asylum from the horrors they face in their own country.

There are numerous other such stories. A Christian girl who was burned alive because she said “Allah.”

A crazed mob who tried to cut off an entire arm of a Christian man.

They managed to run away, but what about the residents of Mandi Bahauddin? They have nowhere to go.  If we Muslims want to be treated equally, with rights and dignity in other non-Muslim countries, it is only fair that we give the same courtesy to the minorities in our own country.

If we are vocal when a single Muslim is wronged. Then we need to be vocal when thousands are wronged in our own country.

The people at Mandi Bahauddin need everyone’s help, especially Muslims. They need to be protected and shown that as Pakistanis, they are equal citizens and have full right to live safely in Pakistan.

If you don’t think they do, then the next time you want to raise your voice for a Muslim, any Muslim, in any other country, don’t! You will have no right to do so.

For those with integrity, please call on the following numbers to lodge your complaint and save the people of Mandi Bahauddin.Yasir Riaz Gondal

DPO: MandiBahauddin

Phone: 0546-502324

Fax: 0546-503068

E-mail: mbdinpolice@yahoo.com

SDPO Phalia (Circle) 0546-596126

Local Police Station Phalia 0546-596007

Mohammed Zafar

SHO Thana Gojra

0321 7777154

Mumtaz Tarar, the MNA for Phalian Mandi Bahauddin can also be contacted: 0300 6001001