Pakistani Human Rights Activists Visit ‘Little Pakistan’

Left to right: Saba Ismail, Samson Salamat and Shahid Khan, wearing the hallmark orange of the Rwadari Tehreek movement, borrowed from Sufi symbolism. (Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)

Left to right: Saba Ismail, Samson Salamat and Shahid Khan, wearing the hallmark orange of the Rwadari Tehreek movement, borrowed from Sufi symbolism. (Photo by Ditmas Park Corner)

Pakistani human rights defender Samson Salamat has started a global movement to fight terrorism and brought his message to Little Pakistan in Brooklyn during a week-long visit to the city. There, Ditmas Park Corner’s Carly Miller spoke with Salamat, as well as Saba Ismail, a woman’s rights activist with Peshawar-based nonprofit Aware Girls, and local activist Shahid Khan about the “wave of intolerance and terrorism” in Pakistan.

Incidents like the June 2014 attack on the country’s largest airport in Karachi, the December 2014 attack on a military-run school in Peshawar and the March 2016 bombing on Easter Sunday in Lahore drew rallies and vigils around NYC attended by local Pakistanis. It is this community that Salamat looked to approach, in particular, the one on Coney Island Avenue – also known as “Little Pakistan” – where a “stronghold of Pakistan’s political influencers” are based.

Ditmas Park Corner gives details on the movement he co-founded.

In 2015, Salamat and other human rights activists launched Rwadari Tehreek, which has grown into a leading social movement in Pakistan. Rwadari Tehreek promotes pluralism, dialogue, and religious diversity, on the nonviolent platforms of Martin Luther King, Badshah Khan, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and others. The group includes volunteer activists, lawyers, teachers, artists, and religious scholars working to reform Pakistan’s constitution, ban hate speech, and end institutional discrimination.

Meanwhile, Ismail is opening an outlet of Aware Girls in Brooklyn:

…in order to stay politically active and ensure the voices of Pakistani women are respected. “Participating in democracy isn’t just voting,” she said. “Citizens have to hold elected officials accountable in the long term, not just on election day.”

Go to Ditmas Park Corner for more on Rwadari Tehreek and the roots of intolerance in Pakistan, according to Salamat and Ismail, as well as their thoughts on the U.S. election.

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