Delizia Bakery Incident Underlined Why Sinf e Aahan’s Christian Narrative Is So Critical!
Aarzoo going to church, Aarzoo working as a team with the other Sinf e Aahan girls, Aarzoo vibing with Syeda Sidra, poring over books together – a Christian, and a devout Muslim girl come together to tell us that religion doesn’t matter, shouldn’t matter, in the grand plan of events.
Social media users are in an uproar. A bakery worker refused to write Merry Christmas on a customer’s cake and moreover, went on to mention that this is company policy.
Throwback to my time as a student in Karachi, Pakistan – a snippet of everyday school & work conversations:
If you’ve lived in Pakistan, you’ve grown up in public (or private) schools, you know these people, you have been these people. You have laughed with them, crammed for exams together, tackled that sticky Math problem early morning, even sung Christmas Carols together, slipped out for a quick lunch in work life and complained about your boss together. Yet, not sure where the change creeps in. From inside innocent classrooms to racist bakeries, from joyously writing Eid Mubarak on Eid Cakes to not writing Merry Christmas on Christmas Cakes – who taught us that?
It certainly wasn’t taught in schools. I don’t recall any of my friends (who come from diverse schooling backgrounds in Pakistan) mention the fact that they were told to disconnect, distance, defriend, disassociate with another community. I could go on about other communities too, but let’s stick to this one for now.
So who’s the culprit then?
It has to be either the home environment we were brought up in (starkly different from schooling)? or, the fallout from widespread hate, trolling and intolerance we see on social media platforms. I’d consider it a combination – homes and families might not encourage anti-Christian sentiments overtly, but they certainly don’t discourage it either! And online spaces, well…they’re another ball game altogether!
How many households in Pakistan might feel uncomfortable wishing a Christian Season’s Greetings?
Don’t believe me?
Try posting it as your twitter status and wait for at least ONE comment pop up telling you why you are encouraging non Muslim sentiments! Facebook might instigate a discussion (or might not), depending on your list of friends. But rest assured, the response from a bakery employee to refuse to write Merry Christmas on a cake should come as no surprise.
This was bound to happen. (say cynical Pakistanis). It reflects a deeper issue beneath the so called policy of a bakery store. It reflects a sense of discomfort, disrespect, intolerance, perhaps, even ignorance on the part of those who encourage and form these rules – and unfortunately, they are amongst us.
To them, I have one thing to say. When a non Muslim wishes you Eid Mubarak, should other Muslims be offended? Are you offended? If you were to walk into a bakery in a non Muslim country and request to have Eid Mubarak written on a cake and you were turned away, how would you feel?
Celebrations in every community and religion are reason to come together, not stay apart
Perhaps Sinf e Aahan Army friendships in Aarzoo and Sidra have a lot more to teach us as a nation. Perhaps Pakistani dramas can help change mindsets, perhaps we can only hope, that after over 70 years of our existence as a nation, we need to relearn the words of the Quaid. Perhaps, it is, but ironical that his birthday and Christmas fall on the same day – God has a way with things, you know. He picks the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to send a cryptic message in the birthdate of our founder. Perhaps the message wasn’t enough. So I give you the words, hope they help:
The Quaid is known to have visited the St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Karachi, Pakistan on the first Christmas after independence, to celebrate Christmas with the Christians.
Christians, and other minorities, have fought hard (and shed blood) alongside Muslims to secure a free nation for us in 1947. They have, over time, contributed to the country – Justice A R Cornelius, former Chief Justice of Pakistan; distinguished Pakistan Air Force pilots: Cecil Chaudhry, Peter O Reilly, and Mervyn L Middlecoat, to mention a few.
The White In The Flag needs to be treated with respect. If we lose this message, we will perhaps, lose respect for ourselves as a nation. We will fail to command respect on a grander scale – as a nation that attempts to move forward is held back by the shackles of its own ignorance – and that, btw dear Pakistanis, cannot be blamed on any outside force – it will be a chasm of our own making.