04/26/2016, 19.03
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Ahmadis increasingly victims of human rights violations in Pakistan

by Kamran Chaudhry

According to the annual report on persecution against the group, 248 Ahmadis were murdered last year, with another 323 victims of attempted murder. Scores of their places of worship have either been seized or illegally disposed. Many of their tombs have been desecrated. Since 1974, Ahmadis have been treated as “non-Muslims” and a government ordinance bans them from using Islamic greetings and prayers, or to refer to their places of worship as mosques.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – The rights of Ahmadi Muslims are increasingly violated in Pakistan, this according to a recently released annual report.

“There is a significant increase in hate propaganda against the Ahmadiyya community,” said Saleem-ud-din, an Ahmadi community spokesperson, in a press statement released yesterday.

“Government agencies responsible for implementing the laws are being manipulated by opponents of the community,” he explained. “Instead of upholding the law, they continue to cave into the demands of extremists”.

Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that “an equal playing ground” is needed for a peaceful society.

The annual report on the persecution against Ahmadis in Pakistan shows that 248 Ahmadis were murdered from 1984 to December 31, 2015; 323 were victims of attempted murder, 27 worship places were demolished, 32 were sealed by the authorities and 16 illegally appropriated, 39 graves were desecrated and the bodies of 65 were refused burial in joint cemeteries.

In Pakistan, the Ahmadi Muslim community has about four million members. Founded in the late 19th century in what was then British India, the Ahmadi community and its doctrine are considered "heretical" by most Sunnis and Shias because, among others, it honours its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and holds to beliefs related to other religions.

In 1974, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, deemed the Ahmadis as "non-Muslims".

Later the situation got even worse under General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who pushed through Ordinance XX, which bans Ahmadis from using Islamic greetings and prayers or referring to their places of worship as mosques.

Together with the Christian community, Ahmadis are the most persecuted group in Pakistan, especially under the country’s blasphemy law, which is frequently used to persecuted minorities.

“As a result, Ahmadis face insecurity in both life and death,” Saleem-ud-din noted. “Hate literature against Ahmadis is being distributed throughout the country, specifically in Punjab and Sindh, where a socio-economic boycott is encouraged at a grass-roots level and goes as far as to incite their murder. Sectarianism, murder and social or political discontent are at their peak in the country”.

For the Ahmadi spokesman, “Tolerance is needed, people must have the courage to speak [up] and listen. Everybody must be given a platform to share his point of view. Also, the government should end discriminatory laws and [instead] ensure religious freedom for all.

The “Peaceful citizens of the country, especially civil society, must encourage the government to end religious bigotry.”

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