by Shah Rukn-e-Alam We must…
These interviews were conducted by the brave volunteers of the Corona Solidarity Campaign. They were sent to us by Areej Hussain.
1. What is solidarity and what do you mean by it?
Solidarity means to be in harmony with one another, to be there for each other in times of crisis. Our biggest problem as a country is that we are divided along the lines of religion, ethnic group and geography and therefore are so resentful of other countries in the world as well.
2. How did the coronavirus pandemic make your life difficult?
Coronavirus is a test for us, but for our nation, it is a joke. By erroneously thinking that the virus only affects some groups and not others and not listening to the medical specialists, our people have turned this virus into a deadly pandemic. On the other hand, some religious fanatic groups have deemed it to be God’s punishment for the infidels declaring ‘good Muslims’ immune to it which of course hasn’t been the case. This has led to a lot of financial, psychological and domestic problems for everyone.
3. How important is solidarity during the pandemic?
Countries that show solidarity amongst one another, such as China, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, etc, have been successful in many ways. The pandemic is a test and only those pass the test who prepare for them. Our nation gets adversely affected so often because they lack solidarity in both the conceptual and the practical sense. Our people, despite not being knowledgeable think of themselves the smartest and consider it their national and religious obligation to give advices to others. Till they themselves do not come across a corpse of a corona patient, they do not believe in the virus; in fact, they attest to the conspiracy theories that the virus is the result of malice and prejudice from the ‘enemy states’.
Q4. What factors inhibit people from following the prevention guidelines?
1. A lack of education
3. Blind faith on ill-informed religious leaders
4. Baseless nationalism (coronavirus can’t do anything to Pakistanis)
5. Self-centeredness (only worrying about one’s self or one’s family and not others)
Q5. How important it is to ensure that the necessary household provisions are distributed in a fair manner to everyone?
We need to educate people on social justice: the idea that we must seek out those who are marginalized and help them. Islam tells us that no one is superior to the other but, sadly, every aspect of our society portrays injustices and inequality. These gross injustices is what keeps us from recognizing the humanity of those who are suffering and, like an animal, hoard all resources for ourselves.
6. What has movements like Corona Solidarity Campaign has done for people severely affected by the pandemic?
In these troubling times, there are only a few organisations ,like the Corona Solidarity Campaign, which are providing mutual aid to people without discrimination even including Khwaja Sira like myself. The Awami Worker’s Party has provided aid to so many people like me, a 54-year-old with sugar problems. Just after seeing a call for help on Facebook, they reached out and provided financial assistance for medicines, hospital visits and provisions. They did so without taking any pictures or videos and without asking about my religion or ethnic background. If this is what solidarity teaches, then a big red salute to my comrades !