Kashif Chaudhry, a graduate of King Edward Medical University in Lahore and Mt Sinai University Hospital in New York, has written an article entitled “I left the US because of their hatred towards Muslims… this is my story“, in The Express Tribune, a major daily English-language newspaper in Pakistan.
A well-educated chap taking about US hatred towards Muslims!! .. yes there are a few kooks, but generally no, that claim is bullshit, so what is going on here? (Stick with me, this tale has a twist at the end).
OK, let’s take a look, he starts out like this …
I was born in 1982, in the beautiful American city of San Jose, California. A proud patriotic Muslim American, my dad would decorate our house with lights every Fourth of July.
Fast forward to the year 2001, when I got admitted to one of America’s top medical schools – the Harvard Medical School in Boston. Moving from San Jose was hard. I stayed in the dorm. Every morning, when I went to take a shower, I saw a sticker on one of the bathroom mirrors on my floor that said,
‘Whoever is a friend of the Muslims is a traitor of Christianity and of America’.
No wait, hang on a moment, that never happened. Yes, we had just had 9/11, but such blatant anti-Muslim rhetoric would never be tolerated, US culture is just not like that, there are enough decent honourable people to raise a voice of protest of that ever actually happened.
He goes on …
In the evenings, sometimes, I would go to the reading room to study. Right on the entrance door, I would find the same sticker. I saw similar messages written on public vans and buses and plastered on walls across Boston. I heard fiery speeches against Islam by Christian clerics in downtown Boston, some calling for my death.
I felt intimidated, unwelcomed and unaccepted.
Er yes … people calling for your death would indeed make you feel more than a tad unwelcome, but I must continue to raise my objection to the claim, because none of this ever happened.
He goes on to talk about how nobody, not one single person, objected to any of this, and how “a group of Christian students had forced the administration of Mt Sinai Medical School in New York to expel all 23 of its Muslim students from that medical school, and were threatening widespread violence …. Soon after, I also found out that Muslim engineering students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were forbidden to eat in the university cafeteria and dorm kitchens. Christian student groups had complained that Muslim presence was making the food filthy and hurting the sentiment of ordinary Christians at MIT“.
Now this really is getting silly, who could possibly believe this claim? I suspect your average reader in Pakistan is lapping all this up because it confirms all that they believe about the US.
His final departure came in 2008; and so he quit the US and moved to Pakistan where he found freedom …
after a series of other targeted attacks on fellow Muslim doctors, I decided to leave the US in 2008. I could not take it anymore. I moved to Pakistan to pursue a career in cardiology. My friends ask me if I will ever return to the States. I think I will but not until the Christian clergy stops condemning me as ‘worthy of death’ and the American government stops jailing me for calling myself a Muslim openly and for professing my faith as I deem fit.
I miss the US a lot but I also love my new homeland. There are a few bigots here as well but I never have to worry about them. My friends come to my rescue before I know it. I am different but I am loved. I feel welcomed and accepted. I have the freedom to speak and profess my faith. Until my motherland is reformed, I shall stay in Pakistan God willing.
I am currently pursuing a degree in cardiology in Lahore and this is my story.
So what is really going on here, because clearly it is not like that in the US?
Well, the final twist for all this comes at the end of his story where he provides the key. He has apparently played a well-known trick and switched a few words around so that the readers in Pakistan will read and be sympathetic before he then turns the tables on them and reveals what he is really saying …
Here is his key …
Pakistan = United States
United States = Pakistan
Harvard Medical School = King Edward Medical University
Mt Sinai Medical School = Punjab Medical College
MIT = University of Engineering and Technology (UET)
Christian = Other Muslims
Christianity = Islam
Christ = Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Muslims = Ahmadis
Boston = Lahore
Lahore = Boston
San Jose = Rabwah
New York = Faisalabad
He is in fact a Muslim, but because he is Ahmadi (a variation of Islam that is deemed to be heresy by the prevailing Muslim majority in Pakistan) he did indeed face a considerable degree of not just intolerance, but very real threats, and so he fled to the US where he found freedom to believe whatever he wishes to believe.
In the end, this article is really all about everything that is wrong with Pakistan, a land where being Muslim is simply not enough, you have to believe exactly the right shade of Islam, because anything and everything else is simply not tolerated.
The Ahmadiyyas face legal threats in Pakistan …
- Their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments.
- In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.
- Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Quran, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.
- In applying for a passport or a national ID card, all Pakistanis are required to sign an oath declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an impostor prophet and all Ahmadis to be non-Muslims
Beyond the legal threats, the Ahmadiyyas face constant on-going physical threats in Pakistan …
- Persecution and hate-related incidents are constantly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many attacks led by various religious groups.
- 28 May 2010 saw the worst single incident of violence against Ahmadis to date (see May 2010 attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore), when several members of an extremist religious group (allegedly Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab) entered two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore and opened fire; three of them later detonated themselves. In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 86 people and injured well over 100.
But it is not just the Ahmadiyyas, Pakistan is a place where all minority beliefs face constant, on-going, and very real threats to their freedom to believe (or not believe), and also to their personal safety.
When you embrace and endorse a belief that promotes intolerance as a virtue, you will reap a very bitter harvest. Our history reveals that we learned this lesson in Europe (the hard way) for example Catholic vs Protestant, and so now it is time for other communities to embrace the idea of pluralism, and also tolerance for a diversity of thinking – especially when the only alternative leads directly to the shores of a sea of blood.