Pakistani Canadian commentator and anti-Islamist activist Tarek Fatah was attacked near the United Nations in New York City by Pakistani Americans who screamed threats and slurs at Fatah.
Fatah is one of a small pool of Pakistanis who invite honest conversations about the shortcomings of Pakistan’s leadership, including calling Pakistan “the motherlode of international terror.”
On Friday, September 27, 2019, a mob of Pakistani Americans (many of them bused in) roamed the streets to show support for Pakistan’s extremist Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s UN speech. The week-long UN General Assembly (UNGA) platformed a number of issues, including a velvet showdown between PM Imran Khan and Indian PM Narendra Modi.
Pakistan’s distorted leadership was in full view during UNGA with a bizarre speech that threatened nuclear war.
As Tarek Fatah wrote in the Toronto Sun,
[Fatah] Last Friday, Imran Khan rose to address a poorly attended hall of the UN General Assembly and in a not-so-disguised threat said, if the world did not pay attention to his penchant for a jihad against neighboring India over the Indian state of Kashmir, a nuclear war would ensue and engulf the rest of the world:
[Quoting PM Imran Khan] “If a conventional war starts between the two countries … anything could happen. But supposing a country [Pakistan] seven times smaller than its neighbour [India] is faced with the choice either you surrender, or you fight for your freedom till death? “What will we do? I ask myself this question … and we will fight. … and when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, it will have consequences far beyond the borders.”
At UNGA speech, there were indications for India of potential nuclear war. As a prominent sportsperson, Imran Khan’s choice of words ‘bloodbath’ ‘fight to the end’ will only increase hatred between the two nations. As a fellow sportsperson I expect him to promote peace.
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) October 2, 2019
PM Imran Khan’s speech came amidst tweets romanticizing an Islam and spouting woes of Islamophobia.
Please learn Islam first 😬
• Erdogan: Stop persecuting scholars/press. Asking questions always been central to original Islam.
• Mahatir: Can’t complain anti-Semitism is free speech but still want blasphemy laws.
• You: Islam was never designed as political rule. #ImranKhan
— Shireen Qudosi (@ShireenQudosi) September 26, 2019
The antagonism between Tarek Fatah and the Pakistani American mob was felt on social media as well as in real time. Many Pakistani Americans retreated to a strong nationalist identity that sided with Pakistan over India — or for that matter, common good will.
Tarek Fatah triggers fundies by calmly smiling while they call him names 😂 Nothing grates these losers more than when you don’t give them the reaction they want. Proud to call @TarekFatah an ally and friend. https://t.co/TT8LtrPoXZ
— Shireen Qudosi (@ShireenQudosi) September 29, 2019
Tremendous credit goes to Tarek Fatah for displaying calm during chaos, a response that only further triggered the crowd. Fatah is warmly welcomed in India, which irks their non-Indian neighbors by drawing attention to the shared history of people that predates partition.
Tarek Fatah may have been attacked by nationalists outside the UN, but all of the free world was attacked by threats of nuclear war by Pakistan. We tend to idealize the UN as at least one space where world leaders push universal humanitarian values, but we have to remember that no one changes their skin when they walk through that door.
A foreign prime minister who speaks in Islamist tongues, who has leaned into fundamentalism over the years and has embraced the same rhetoric as the terrorists he says his country is fighting needs to be seen for who he is and what he represents.