Opinion

There is only one group all Terrorists Belong to

Maryam Zaheer

15 March 2019 Bangladesh cricket team narrowly escapes a dreadful mass shooting that kills 49 Muslims in a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, carried out by an Australian terrorist.

Rewind to 3 March, 2009, almost the exact same tragedy takes place in Lahore, Pakistan. Sri Lankan cricket team just dodge death.

These aren’t just two different dates on the calender. These are two events that remind us how unfairly a certain class of people has always been treated.

International cricket was banned in Pakistan for about a decade after the disaster. Our grounds became desolate; and not only the cricket stadiums but of all other sports as well.

International Cricket Council declared Pakistan ‘unfit’ for hosting any games and we were sent into isolation. Our sports fans were hit by disappointment and there was nobody who could do anything about it.

Owing to other misguided generalisations about Muslims, Islam and Pakistanis, our people went through humiliation at airports. A whole new generation grew up in an environment of fear, gloom and suspicions. And this will travel down to multiple successors of those people too.

We were made to fight a war that wasn’t ours. Even after sacrificing 70,000 innocent lives and bearing innumerable other kinds of loses, we were told to DO MORE.

All of this because our race, religion, country and culture was wrongly associated to one black sheep; to one Pakistani, to one Muslim, to one brown person who committed a crime.

We paid for it even though we didn’t owe anything.

Today, we don’t blame Christianity, all Christians, all white people, all Australians or the whole of New Zealand. We blame that one, singular terrorist. We blame BrentonTarrant for the horrific act of violence that has left us all shattered and scared despite being in the other part of the world.

We don’t blame his whole race, religion, country or culture. Because we’ve seen the better sides of all of those. We’ve seen flowers pour in as tributes. We’ve seen New Zealanders and Australians stand up with us against his terrorism. We’ve seen messages of peace flow in from Christians.

We’ve seen all the love and respect in the face of evil and heartlessness. We’ve focussed on positivity instead of brutality. We’ve lost our brothers but we’ve chosen to not give in to hatred. We’ve learnt to ‘hello brother’ everyone, even if they have ill intentions.

The world, back in the day, however, was too blind to see a similar side of ours.

We’ve suffered the worst because of it. We’ve lost a lot to the world’s tunnel vision.

And so, we would not even be the last people to desire for bare sports grounds neither in New Zealand nor in Australia. We know how it feels to be punished for acts of one ignorant extremist.

But this is to point out the world’s mistake. The mistake that made them single out a certain group without discrimination of good and bad. The mistake that made us suffer financially, physically and mentally for years.

We know it better than all the rest, all spectators deserve games in their grounds, all players should be able to play in their hometowns, all grounds need to roar with spirit of competition and pride of victory, all citizens should be treated with dignity everywhere in the world; or else we will nurture another group of young individuals who know terror and fright and nothing else and it’s very very dangerous.

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