For the past couple of weeks there has been huge furor over the remarks made by the US Presidential candidate Donald Trump, urging the government to impose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US. Hashtags like #DumpTheTrump, #Trumpster and #TrumpDerangementSyndrome took the internet by storm. Vociferous and vehement protests and disapproving statements came from all over the world, and rightly so. Trump’s logic and arguments are absolutely abhorrent and distasteful to put it mildly. What was Donald Trump thinking while spitting up such egregious filth and putting millions of Muslims in the US in danger of economic seclusion, social abhorrence and disownment just on the basis of their religion? Being a target of senseless and outrageous discrimination, abuse and partisanship at the hands of your own countrymen and either being barred from entering or instructed to leave the land you know as home — sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar back here in Pakistan. Switching to local news, you see the ironic situation of protests against Trump coming from the same faction which leaves no chance when it comes to racial, religious and cultural discrimination against Pakistan’s own minorities. One could not help but smirk with remorse and disdain at the irony of the situation and our appalling hypocrisy. What should have been a moment of self-assessment and soul-searching got buried under the plethora of oft-heard “condemnatory” ramblings and pointless remonstrations. And we were just too busy in establishing the fact that we are better morally, religiously and culturally from the “infidels” of the US to realise that we have been doing pretty much the same thing for decades and decades now with our minorities. The recent protest at Hafeez Centre, Lahore against the Punjab government after the police took down hate-content outside some shops is a testimony to our sordid and regressive mindsets. Trump might have his political reasons to suggest such things, or maybe it is his sheer insanity; but in our case it is actually much more dangerous as people feel religiously obligated by such an ideology. I ask everyone who is against giving basic human rights to this particular faction of “Non-Muslims”; what do you want them to do? Would forcing them to denounce their claim of following a certain religion make you a better Muslim? Would isolating them from your economic and social circles benefit your country or elevate your religion’s status in any way? Or do you expect millions of people to just vanish and vamoose from the society just because you want them to? So many questions; yet only mindless hatred and bigotry comes one’s way as an answer. This is the same group of moral police which legalised shameful and contemptible actions by stuffing travesties like Second Amendment and Ordinance XX into our constitution. As a result, for the law abiding, tax paying Ahmadis of Pakistan, we have made it compulsory on a state level to declare themselves as non-Muslims and call their most revered figure an impostor before any official activity such as making a passport or an identity card. The only science Nobel Prize winner Dr Abdus Salam has been excommunicated and execrably ignored in Pakistan simply because he was an Ahmadi. Leave building roads, universities etc. to honour his name and legacy, even the term Muslim has been removed from his grave. These are just a few examples of the systematic and spiteful persecution we have arranged and legalised on the state level. Imagine the tumult and resentment it would cause if some non-Muslim country decided to put comparable sanctions and conditions for Muslims arriving or living in their country. The reason given by the traders of Hafeez Centre behind this rigid canon with regards to Ahmadis is that they are “non-Muslims” and “agents of anti-Muslim faction”. But how can they be sure that in the manufacturing, advertisement, delivery etc. of the mobile phones they sell in that plaza, no Ahmadi worker was employed or involved? Ironically, the very products they are selling belong to that supposedly anti-Muslim bloc. From Samsung, to Huawei, iPhone, Nokia, none of these brands are even remotely connected to Muslim owners. So this implies that they would gladly serve the “masters”, but when it comes to the “agents” — who incidentally are their countrymen — their moral and religious honour and sacrosanctity comes in danger. The actual reason behind all this hullaballoo and the mindless rhetoric are certain elements who personify the terms hate and religious ignorance. The so called religious clerics insidiously play with the minds of the masses by ingraining and imposing their demented versions of right and wrong upon them. And the choices they bring out are unassailable and inalienable as they are portrayed as divine revelations and commands; so the people essentially have to accept them or be a part of the corrupted and anti-Muslim clan. The roots of this shockingly submissive and ignorant attitude can be put down to several things; including our defence and national policies over the years, our degenerative and obsolete educational culture and system, and more importantly our national philosophy of elevating a certain person and his ideology to a godly status, and considering it a delinquency to ever challenge it. It is about time we start to fight against the hate speech and intolerance that has been eroding our society from within for decades. We have to challenge the astonishingly outrageous and embarrassing national attitude and policies towards our minorities. The armed battle by the army against terrorism will only yield cosmetic and ephemeral changes if we don’t warm up the ideological front against the religious prejudice. We must beat the dogmatic chauvinists at their own game, and make the common man understand the actual concept of a modern state. Which incidentally was the model of the state first established by the Prophet (SAW) himself in Madina; where everyone was an equal citizen with equal rights, let it be economic and social inclusion or equality of opportunity. Just a mere sift through Prophet’s life would bring up countless incidents showing his tolerance, compassion and respect for the rights and freedom of choice of non-Muslims. What we need is another Zarb-e-Azb against the Pakistani version of the Trump mindset. We must become wary of the breeding grounds and incubation centres of the ever increasing religious intolerance and hate-mongering, before they start spouting out another breed of Talibans for us to be plagued by — and fast!