As the world watches the drama unfold in Jerusalem, al-Aqsa mosque is once again the centre of our attention. Israel’s right-wing government plans to demolish the mosque in the next stage of takeover of the holy city. Even the thought of it is painful; how agonising it will be seeing the holy edifice being torn down? I wonder how the local Muslims living in Jerusalem will deal with the loss. My question to all the thaikaidars of Islam in Pakistan is, what will you do when ultra-right Jews replace al-Aqsa with a Synagogue. Recently, I woke up to the news of an Ahmadi place of worship being demolished by religious fanatics in Sialkot. How painfully helpless would one feel when one cannot even defend oneself? When one’s so-called “protectors” are complicit in the crime being committed, and especially when someone is not in a position to put up a defence because that someone belongs to a minority in Pakistan. Apparently, the police of Sialkot was watching it all happen and didn’t move a muscle. The wound inflicted at Babari Masjid still feels awfully painful but in reality we are no different from Modi, whose BJP demolished our mosque. How can you attack a holy site? For me it is still hard to comprehend. We derisively call them ‘Mirzai’, a term they find repugnant. It’s like referring to inanimate objects that do not breathe, or feel anything. Only in the past couple of years I found out that a few of my school friends belonged to the Ahmadi faith. They had chosen to hide that aspect of their lives because they were scared of rejection, or being ostracised. It made me wonder how I would feel if the proverbial shoe was on the other foot, and if I had, in some parallel universe, traded places with them. I can only relate this feeling with the Palestinians living in Jerusalem right now. Another stray thought came rushing in: why is it that I have yet to come across a single Ahmadi who is not humble and who can actually pose a credible threat to the society? They are normally better educated and better behaved than their counterparts in other faiths. I have definitely found them better human beings than Aamir Liaquat, Khadim Rizvi and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. One can understand the intolerance that is being exhibited by the Hindu majority in India on its minorities. Manusimriti is a part of their creed and their caste ridden system is built on intolerance and hatred for those they perceive to be lower than them. But Islam was different, it is different. It preaches tolerance. The Quran says that the murder of one man is the murder of all of humanity. When did we descend from such high ideals? What creed or version of Islam makes us intolerant? How come invoking the name of the greatest human being that ever lived, and whom Allah refers to as Rehmatul–Alamein (may Allah’s blessings and peace shower on him endlessly), we commit the most barbaric of acts? How can a lover of Madina be so abusive and dangerous for the people who are weak? Unfortunately, our current system promotes the radical elements who are out in the open, no longer lurking in the shadows. It was less than a week back that I interacted with an FIA official, and was left speechless. From disrespectful comments to derogatory slurs, his words were punctuated by incomprehensible hate. It will not surprise me at all if he was found amongst the hooligans that demolished the Ahmadi place of worship in Sialkot. This is supposedly an educated man, sworn to uphold the law and protect all Pakistanis regardless of their ethnicity and creed. What can one expect from dregs of the society then, whom we have left behind in our mad rush for material gains, who are brainwashed by the so-called Mullahs, to riot at their behest, when and wherever it pleases them? They are the foot soldiers of the fanatics. The Dalit in India see a similar fate. I came to see this official in Lahore, to discuss a human rights case regarding a widow and mother of two minor daughters, against whom the FIA had registered an unreasonable case. I was trying to convince the official that the FIR under S-420 could be fatal for her and the two minor children, when suddenly, in a room full of nearly 10 men, instead of discussing the matter he was supposed to discuss, he threw a jibe at me by telling me not to be a hero and act like a professional lawyer. To which I responded that I do want to be a “hero” if it meant that I was defending the rights of my clients. His frustration increased and he said, “jao jaker mirzaiyon ko defend kero” (go defend “Ahmadis”). I felt that this was his way to shut me up. My rebellious nature took over and I instantly said. “I will.” He laughed sarcastically followed by an awkward silence that left me flabbergasted at his obnoxious, unethical and very unprofessional behaviour. Is this how an officer of law should behave? What are we doing to ourselves? Shivers run through my body when I recall those 10 faces in the room. Anyone could have done anything in the name of Islam. It took me a day to digest the whole incident and I thought I should just forget what happened there. But then, seeing many people across the vast spectrum of social media condemn the attack on the Ahmadi place of worship, I got the courage to share my experience with the public at large. When should people like this official run the affairs of state in this manner, what will our future look like? Most certainly, this is not Islam! I am more conservative than many Muslims around and definitely more than any of the hooligans who attacked the Ahmadi house of worship in Sialkot the other day. It is my belief that hellfire awaits anyone who thinks people they hate are not human and they are free to inflict pain as they please. I love Mujahideen like Burhan Wani, but I have zero respect for the thugs who bully and terrorise the weak. Lastly, if an Ahmadi place of worship hurts and bothers someone so much, then they must seek relief through a court of law with standing. No one has the right to take anyone’s life or obstruct their lawful activities, as equal citizens of this nation, including worship. Human rights are for every human being in the world — not just Muslims! We need to be different from the Zionist and hardcore extremist Hindus in India. If you want to participate in jihad then go raise a voice for the pitiful Palestinians and Kashmiris. It is high time we start loving the minorities. The writer is Barrister and Lahore based Human Rights and Criminal Law Lawyer and Director Law Clinic Blackstone College of Law. Twitter: @HniaziISF Facebook: Has-saan Khan Niazi email: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 6th 2018.