There is a video, on youtube, of a few people hiding under a table in a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. It was recorded by a 15 year old boy who went to the mosque on a normal Friday afternoon to offer his prayers. I don't know what happened to this boy, whether he survived the massacre or not, but in the few moments he managed to show us, we see honesty. We see sincerity, we see courage and an unwavering faith in God. We see humanity.
For those who are unaware of exactly what happened last Friday, I'll give a brief summary. Two mosques of the Ahmadi sect of Islam were attacked by gunmen of the Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a branch of the Taliban currently operating in Pakistan. Over 90 innocent worshipers were slaughtered and several hundred others were injured. Why did this attack happen? Because mainstream Muslims have declared Ahamdis to be infidels over a religious disagreement, i.e. Ahmadis consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (who died in 1908) to be the messiah of this age. The government of Pakistan has banned Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims, from declaring their faith in the form of the kalimah, from reciting the traditional call to prayers or using the traditional Muslim greeting (peace be upon you), all under penalty of death. Ahmadis in the past have been killed for their faith by fanatical clerics who claim that anyone who takes the life of an Ahmadi will have a special place in heaven, but never on a scale as large as this attack in Lahore.
We have only bits and pieces of information about what happened inside the mosques. The majority of the survivors were hidden through the whole ordeal, so a coherent picture of what actually happened isn't really available. The aftermath, however, is very clear. Blood and scorch marks from grenades cover even the ceilings of the main prayer halls. Hallways are filled with ankle-deep pools of blood. Shell casing litters the floors and roofs of the mosques, and the image of the gunmen spraying AK-47 rounds from atop the minaret is forever ingrained in our minds.
In the end, the majority of the attackers escaped despite the "efforts" of the police. One attacker was killed and another captured, but both were taken out by courageous Ahmadis who were willing to put their lives on the line when they realized the police were doing nothing. Outside the walls of the mosque, onlooking Ahmadis begged the police commandos to take action, and when the police refused, they begged for weapons so they could enter the mosque themselves. For four dreadfully long hours, onlookers were forced to hear the dying screams of their friends and family members in stunned disbelief, unable to do anything.
It would be easy to arbitrarily place blame on any number of Pakistani government officials here, but that would cheapen the value of the sacrifices made in those two mosques. The fact is, over 90 of my brothers are dead. These were not hostile or combative people that died last Friday. These were completely normal, hard working, peaceful members of society that had committed no crime. They were retired military officers, shop keepers, tailors, farmers, and IT professionals. They did not deserve to die.
To be honest, I didn't even want to write anything about these attacks. I felt like nothing I wrote could ever really do justice to this tragedy. But then I thought about the story of one man who called his wife just as the attackers forced their way into the basement room where he was hiding. He told his wife he loved her, told her to say goodbye to his children, and with literally his last breath, he asked her to remember him. Seconds later he was shot in the head.
The media will squeeze as much air-time as they can out of this story, but eventually it will start to fade from the news. Governments will start to forget, the UN will move on to the next genocide, and all the people who were enraged by this tragedy will start to settle down. I wrote this so that one day when all this grief and sorrow has passed I might look back at this writeup and remember. Maybe I'll remember all the pictures of bloody walls and the sounds of automatic rifle fire. Maybe I'll remember the inadequacy of the government's response or the multiple failures of the police. Most of all though, I hope to fulfill that dying man's last wish and never forget that so many innocent people died because of blind hate.