Living in Pakistan for almost all my childhood, I have had my share of taking in and learning the culture & history of Pakistan. I lived in Pakistan in the 1980’s & part of 1990’s while gaining first-hand experience of what it was like to live in a melting pot society, back when America and Europe were mostly homogenous. A lot of the diversity in Pakistan back then had to do with its booming economy. Pakistan at the time was probably one the most opportunistic countries for outsiders to invest in the 1980’s, although it wasn’t like that by the 1990’s. The impetus behind writing this post is two-fold. First, I would like to shed light on life in Pakistan back then and my life in America now. The second aspect I want to highlight is the difference & similarities between the “melting pot” concept in the 1980’s Pakistan and 2000’s US and Europe. The business industry in the 1980’s Pakistan was like the tech industry in Silicon Valley circa 2000’s. I came across a great article (See HERE) and thought it would help those Muslims that are truly sick and tired of Non-Muslims (and those pretending to be “Muslims”) stealing our beautiful and homogeneous identity. So here goes:
I was born in the 1980’s when there were a few computers around and a lot of global interest in Pakistan. Almost every Pakistani was educated and lived in conditions that made it probably one of the most successful developing countries in the world at the time. However, there were many conversations about India not being too happy about it. Given the history between Pakistan and India, this was not a surprise. After the very bloody partition in 1947, there have been numerous wars fought between the two countries, during one where Pakistan lost East Pakistan aka Bangladesh or Bengal as Hindus like to call it.
Since there were many business opportunities, I saw many well – to – do families from around the world (as far as the United States) come and live there to seek out economic opportunities. The school I studied in had many students from Russia, Nigeria, and the United States, but surprisingly not many Europeans. Hmm. However, this growth coupled with the then-gaps in Pakistani business laws invited many “business families” as they were called, that wanted quick money. These unfortunate circumstances led to sweatshops and poor work standards which have been dealt with internationally. The funny part was some kids and their parents were proud to identify themselves as “Muslims” when in fact many were Hindus from around the Middle East and Asia. As my curiosity peaked regarding this matter, I had many students come to me and share stories about working in the Indian film industry and taking on Muslim stage names there. Appalled as me, my teachers, and a group of my friends were, I am not surprised Pakistan has closed off many economic deals with foreign countries since then. To Pakistan, the world was not ready for this type of interaction and it is perfectly happy.
2000’s United States Of America
I moved here in the 1990’s mostly because of the above reasons and mostly because we could afford to. Then around the late 1990’s and especially 2000’s the tech boom happened & the United States saw economic growth comparable to its Industrial Revolution era in the early 1900’s. And again, a wave of immigrants found their way into America. And as okay as I was about all this, there was something happening on the side. The rhetoric around me and my life were mostly anti – Muslim or it appeared to me that way. And part of me thought not to make a big deal about this but a huge part of me was afraid what this rhetoric was doing to the Muslim identity on a personal & global level. Trust me, Muslims in general, are well-to-do like the countries they live in, but the news of bombings & suicide bombings in the name of Allah was particularly nefarious. Social media, which is a baby of mine, was used broadly to propagate false news, hate speech, and Photoshopped propaganda and I was going to have none of it. I mean the idea of having a Non-Muslims with good intentions explain that not all Muslims are bad on media and social media was excruciating to bear.
The same thing was happening to Mexicans and Caucasians. Caucasians were being called “racists” and “school shooters” and when the news focused on “Dreamers”, the face they would put on was of a Hispanic person (when I was socializing with South Asian families with “Dreamers” of their own).
And during this all, I shouldn’t be surprised to see an entire city full of Hindus walking around or be okay with thinking to pull my child out of the classroom because Hindu parents are teaching children about their religious practices instead of general secular good vs. bad concepts about holidays. The “silent Hindu” as I like to call it is scarier to me now because it reminds of some of the stuff they attempted in Pakistan way back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Changing Hindu names to Muslim “stage names” in Lollywood, shoving their caste system down my throat as a form of bullying and taking credit for many concepts and Muslim accomplishments was something I had to endure in Pakistan. They went as far as bombing Pakistan’s US embassy and claiming Israel did it (I remember you CNN as you were there). Believe me, I have seen an actual fake passport with the blue United State’s booklet cover and pages of Indian passports with my own two eyes!
But I digress from the point I wanted to make. The point I want to make is to show that Muslims are like me more than you know. But as an American or a Canadian or whatever it is difficult to understand who is who when facts like identity are actually being built on lies. I solely believe based on the laws of the United States of America, Muslims have been able to block a lot of hate speech & propaganda spread by our enemies. Why do I think I can do this? Because there are actual people who believe in ALL of us having a voice (See HERE). So Muslims, celebrate this coming Eid proudly as we have come a long way and Non-Muslims, if you see a Muslim talking fondly about Eid, please wish them a Happy Eid.