When I was a kid, people would tell me that being friendly with boys of other religions was dangerous. Of course, my parents never told me to stay away from Christians or Hindus or Parsis. I had plenty of friends from those religions, as my school (St. Patrick's) admitted everyone (except Protestants). In fact, when one Catholic boy's family became Protestants, the boy (Simon Douglas) was hounded and harassed and then thrown out of school for "teasing the girls of St. Joseph's Convent" nearby. Yes, just as the Muslims who warned me to stay away from non-Muslims  feared that I would end up being one of them, the Catholic priests were terribly afraid that the Protestant boy would persuade other Catholic students to change their religion. 

As I said, there were people who told me that having non-Muslim friends would turn me into an apostate. Even when (at the age of 60) I told the mullah of our apartment mosque that I was reading a book on Islam written by a Shia, he recoiled in horror and told me to throw the book away (which I couldn't do, as it belonged to the Karachi Club library). The mullah obviously thought I would be influenced by the book and become a Shia, I pointed out to him that he had failed to convince me to grow a beard, so he should know that I'm not the type of person who is easily brainwashed.

Then there was the time (when I had gone to perform Haj) that a fat Memon tried to strangle me. His equally fat cousin had asked if there was any way the Haj could be performed in a week or so, and I had suggested that he should convert to the Shia faith. As I said, I was almost lynched, although I told the corpulent would-be killer that I had said it as a joke.

Which makes me wonder why Memons, of all people, have become so radicalized. Usually those who hate people of other religions are poor and have to struggle daily to survive. Memons used to be so tolerant, yet now I see many who think nothing of killing Shias or Ahmedis. Some of them refuse to go to weddings of Shias so they won't have to eat food cooked by them. 

The other day a young boy of 15 killed a mentally unstable man who claimed that he was a prophet. I wasn't surprised that he did so, but the amazing thing is that hundreds of men in Peshawer took out a rally in his support. When he was brought to court, he was kissed by heavily bearded men (who thought he had killed an Ahmedi). I suppose he wanted to become famous, seeing that another killer (the executed Mumtaz Qadri) is regarded as a saint, and thousands go and pray at the shrine built in his honour. One of his followers, by the way, is the Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz Chouhan. So we should expect to see more killings in future, probably of Shia and Barelvi Muslims.