The Shame of the Muslim World – The Tragedy of the Rohingya and Muslim Hypocrisy
“The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.”
-The Holy Quran, Surah At-Tawba, 9:71
The persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has been continuing unabated despite international outrage. I briefly commented on the lackluster response by Muslim countries to the crisis in a previous post, but the current state of events has prompted me to discuss this topic again. Many Muslims countries, such as my native Pakistan, have expressed outrage at the dismal and barbaric treatment of the Rohingyas and have called for an end to the violence. It has also been claimed that countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have links to the growing insurgency, which has been used by the government of Myanmar as an excuse to carry-out more pogroms against the Rohingya minority. In other words, there is no shortage of verbal complaints and perhaps some limited action by Muslim countries, about the crisis.
But something else has been ignored. A recent article by Reuters highlighted the hypocrisy of some Muslim countries in their handling of this crisis. Pakistan’s port city of Karachi is home to at least 300,000 Rohingya refugees. The first refugees arrived more than 50 years ago, so they have been living in Pakistan for decades. Yet shockingly, these refugees live mostly in squalor and back-breaking poverty. That is not to say that native-born Pakistani live affluent lives, but the fact that the Rohingya are denied basic rights and are not even offered citizenship that native-born Pakistanis enjoy should be a cause for outrage for any Muslim. The Rohingya refugees in Pakistan essentially have no legal status and are forced to survive on the fringes of society. This begs the question: how different is the attitude of the Pakistani government to that of the Burmese government? The only difference is that the Rohingyas are safe from government-sponsored harassment and violence in Pakistan, whereas in Myanmar, violence from Buddhist extremists and army is very common.
Where is the outrage for this hypocritical treatment of fellow Muslims? The “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan was founded on the principle of being a home for South Asian Muslims. The Rohingya are South Asian Muslims! Why are they being treated the same way as they are in a non-Muslim country like Myanmar? It seems the answer is clear: nationalist and ethnic differences. The Rohingya are seen as “foreign” and therefore are not accorded the same rights as native-born Pakistanis. So much for being an “Islamic” republic. Hypocrites pay lip service to Islam but do not actually put its principles into practice. We complain about the brutal persecution in Myanmar, but meanwhile, similar discrimination occurs in Pakistan. As someone who was born in Pakistan, I am ashamed. The curse of nationalism has corrupted and destroyed the bonds of brotherhood that should exist between Muslims. It seems we easily forget the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), that one’s ethnicity plays no role in the Ummah and that piety is what matters most. That should be a cause for shame. May Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) forgive us and reestablish the bonds of Muslim brotherhood.
***Donations to help our Rohingya brothers and sisters can be made to UNHCR:
 According to a 2016 report, nearly 4 out of 10 Pakistani live in poverty, though in 2004, that number was higher:
 The Prophet said in his last sermon:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves” (http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/lastserm.HTM).