03/03/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Ex-policeman from Punjab kills Muslim “infidel”

by Qaiser Felix
Riaz Gondal, a retired assistant police sub-inspector, shot Muhammad Ashraf point-blank. Ashraf, a member of the Ahmadi community, was accused of trying to convert good Muslims. A spokesman for the minority denounced the lack of government support.

Mandi Bahauddin (AsiaNews) – A “heretic” of Islam has been killed by a retired Muslim policeman who accused him of being “infidel and of making people infidel”. The perpetrator most probably will not even be tried for the murder.

On 1 March, Riaz Gondal, a retired assistant sub-inspector of the Punjab police, shot Muhammad Ashraf point-blank and killed him instantly. Ashraf was a member of the Ahmadi minority. Before firing, Gondal shouted: “You are an infidel, and are making people infidel”.

The Ahmadi community describes itself as Muslim but does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet; thus, it is submitted to persecution by integralists in many Muslim countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Such violence goes unpunished by these Muslim majority states that often close an eye even to the most shocking cases.

After the shooting, Gondal went to a police station and turned himself in saying he had “killed an infidel, a non Muslim”. A case has been lodged against him under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and he has been put in “preventive custody”. But many believe the retired policeman will not even face trial.

Ashraf’s funeral was held yesterday but extremists forbade his wife and daughter from attending. A spokesman for Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, an organisation of Pakistan’s Ahmadi community, “this latest case of senseless violence against us must be condemned; it is a new expression of the extremist hatred that incites the population to attack us.”

He continued: “Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya has informed the so called moderate government which has failed to control and curb such acts.” In Ashraf’s case, “the lack of support from the state was evident: Ashraf had been the target of fundamentalists for some time. They used to uphold him as an example of an infidel and threaten him.”

The hatred against him was even more extreme because he “was accused of having converted for money and of converting other Muslims also for money. We warned the authorities at all levels more than once but they ignored us and now he is dead.”

According to an annual report on the situation of the Ahmadi community, which is published by the same, 83 followers of their faith have been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists between 1984 and 2006. It is “impossible to define” the number of extra-judicial deaths.

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