07/29/2014, 00.00
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Pakistan, Ahmadi neighborhood torched over 'blasphemy' charge: Grandmother and grandchildren die

The children were 1 and 7 years of age. Islamic community enraged by a Facebook post, considered "blasphemous." The doctrine of Ahmadis is considered "heretical" by much of the Muslim world, both Sunni and Shiite.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Another atrocity has been committed in Pakistan in the name of "blasphemy." A woman and her two grandchildren - of 1 and 7 years of age - died in an arson attack on the Colony of Gujrawala Arafat, a city 220 kilometers southeast of Islamabad on  July 27. The victims belong to the Ahmadis Muslim community. The mob violence was sparked by a post on Facebook by a young boy from the group, judged blasphemous by one of his "friends" on the social network.

According to police reports, Aqib Salim, 17, posted a "blasphemous" picture which angered his Muslim friend Saddam Hussain. The two began to argue, attracting the attention of about 150 people. The group went to the police station to register a case of blasphemy. While police negotiated with the crowd, another group attacked the Ahmadis' homes.

Spokesman for the community, Salim ud Din, says that it is "the worst attack suffered in over four years, when our places of worship were attacked simultaneously, and 86 people were killed." " Police were there but just watching the burning. They didn't do anything to stop the mob," he said. "First they looted their homes and shops and then they burnt the homes". In the fire eight others were injured, but the "offender" was not.

Founded in India in the late 19th century, the Ahmadi doctrine is considered "heretical" by much of the Muslim world, both Sunni and Shiite. It honors its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and has beliefs related to other religions. In Pakistan, the law bans followers from using Islamic greetings and prayers, and to refer to their places of worship as "mosques".

This is why the Ahmadis as a community - together with Christians - are often the victims of the blasphemy laws used to persecute minorities. According to these laws, those found "guilty" of the crime of blasphemy could be sentenced to death.

On July 2 Paul Bhatti, former Federal Minister for National Harmony and APMA leader (All Pakistan Minorities Alliance), spoke at a conference for the implementation of a moratorium on the death penalty organized by the UN High Commissioner human Rights and the permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations. In support of the moratorium, he pointed out that "the death penalty may encourage terrorism and perpetuate a culture of death. A government-sanctioned execution broadcasts an unambiguous message to its citizens that punishment by death is justified. But the problem is that extremist terrorists are co-opting the state's prerogative for their own malicious objectives.  Death perpetuates death" . So " Often, false accusations are hurled to settle personal scores, to target easy victims, who mostly belong to the oppressed and marginalized sector of the community. And to further extremist agendas, breeding real acts of violence against them, including execution".



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