Lahore: Ahmadi student expelled on false blasphemy charges
by Jibran Khan
Rabia Saleem ripped up an anti-Ahmadi poster. Students affiliated with Islamic fundamentalist groups accused her falsely in order to expel her from campus. The university usually covers up extremist abuses as silence reigns in the Education Ministry. Catholic priest slams the authorities’ inaction.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – An Ahmadi student from Lahore (Punjab) was expelled from her university in her senior after she was accused of blasphemy. Students affiliated with Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat (TKN) accused Rabia Saleem of ripping up a poster with anti-Ahmadi content. Ahmadi Muslims are considered heretical by mainstream Islam because they do not view Muhammad as the last prophet. The poster was on the door of the hostel where the young woman lived, and, according to sources, it did not contain any verses from the Qur‘an. A student, who asked for anonymity, said that the university “discriminates against religious minorities” and allows fundamentalist groups to “do as they as they please.”
Rashid Ahmad Khan, additional registrar at the Comsats Institute of Information Technology in Lahore, had denied any link between the student’s expulsion and her religion. Instead, he said she was expelled for “breaking university rules” since she “did not provide a document” required in order to register. Student sources say instead that the expulsion of the Ahmadi student was racist in nature, the result of an attitude of discrimination towards religious minorities that permeates the university.
In the meantime, TKN-affiliated students announced that “Ahmadi students would not be allowed” on campus, and that anybody who tried to resist them would be killed. The university and the education ministry reacted to the threat with total silence.
By contrast, it has send shockwaves through the Ahmadi community, which now fears fresh attacks, like the dual attack of May 2010 against two mosques in Lahore that left hundreds dead.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Amir John said that “many students are victims of discrimination in school and that no one has seriously tackled the problem.” In his view, the state “tolerates religious hatred” and “does nothing when episodes of persecution occur.”
For the Catholic priest, the extremist mindset continues to spread and because of it Pakistan could lose important and prominent people from religious minorities.
The Masihi Foundation and Life for All, two NGOs involved in helping victims of discrimination and violence, also condemned Rabia Saleem’ expulsion. In a joint statement, they called for “tolerance and harmony” and urged religious leaders to “play a positive role” in building a multi-confessional society.
They also noted that the only Pakistani to win a Nobel Prize (for Physics) is Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi, who was not appropriately honoured at home for his international award.
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