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By Muhammad Zafrulla Khan
This concisely written text presents the teachings of Islam and their distinct superiority over various Articles that make up the Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations and universally acclaimed as the greater charter of freedom. The author explains how 1400 years ago, Islam emancipated the poor and oppressed and gave the world the basic prescription for the respect and value of all human beings irrespective of class, colour or creed. Those instructions contained in the Holy Qur'an remain as relevant today as they were at the time that it was revealed. However, with the passage of time, some parts of Muslim society neglected Qur'anic teachings with an inevitable decline in moral standards. The author however concludes on an optimistic note that the revival of Islam is happening and with it a close adherence to the values laid out in the Holy Qur'an
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Home Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 2005
Excerpts from “State of Human Rights in 2005”

Introduction

Lack of respect for basic democratic rights; increased ruthlessness in crushing dissent; a disturbing determination to keep governance secret and the emergence of dangerous new trends, such as the ‘disappearances’ of more and more people across the country marked the human rights environment during the first eight months of 2005 and the last two of 2004.

The worsening climate of intolerance aggravated the situation for non-Muslim citizens. Ahmadis faced the worst discrimination and remained effectively disenfranchised. HRCP continued to demand the joint electorate be fully restored. There was also an increase in attacks on minority places of worship, with the impunity available to culprits encouraging only more such outrages across the country. The misuse of blasphemy laws, and in at least one instance the murder of an accused man by a frenzied mob, highlighted the dangers presented by the growing bigotry and hatred in society.

NOTE: HRCP’s annual report has been finalised a few months earlier than usual, in response to requests made to HRCP from various organizations and individuals within and outside the country. It covers the period between November 1st, 2004 and August 31st 2005. Our next report will cover events that took place during the remaining period of 2005 and upto August 31, 2006.

Kamila Hyat
Editor

Highlights

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Attacks on non-Muslim citizens across the country increased. Such attacks came in the form of ‘fatwas’, attempts to burn down places of worship and the abduction or harassment of members of minority communities.
Ahmadis remained effectively defranchised and faced continuing violence and discrimination.
Over 100 people died in sectarian violence across the country, including unrest that persisted for months in the Gilgit and Skardu areas.
Expanded intolerance in society was demonstrated by the continued accusations under blasphemy laws, and the murder of an accused person in Nowshera by a frenzied mob.
There were some positive developments, including the decision to allocate land in Lahore as a funeral site for the city’s Hindu community.

Rule of Law
Administration of justice

Cases on religious grounds

Against Ahmedis
Sr.
Name /s
Distt. / City
U/S
P.S.
Date of
occurance
Allegation
Arrest/ Jail
Remarks
01.
Ijaz Ahmad, Latif,
Iqbal Ahmad,
Yasin
Vehari/Chak No. 21-B
 298/C 
Machiwal
22-02-2005 
Preaching
Arrested
02.
Akbar Ahmad
Multan
298/C
Seetal Mari
21-5-2005
Preaching
No
Living abroad
03.
Razaq
Jhang / Shorekot
295/A
298/C
Shorekot City
29-03-2005
Preaching
No
Teacher suspended from job.
04.
Rana M. Ashraf
Sialkot Pasrur
295/C
Kararwala
03-03-2005
Insulted the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
05.
Mubarik Ahmad
Umerkot
298/C
Shah di puli
10-3-2005
Preaching
No
Granted bail before arrest by H. C.
06.
Sanaullah, Nasir Ahmad, Younas, Sultan, Javed Ahmed, Mushtaq Ahmed, Ishfaq Ahmad, Zafarullah, M. Nawaz
Bahawalpur
295/C
Sadar Hasilpur
17-06-2005
Insulted the Holy Prophet (PBUH)
07.
Sultan Ahmad, A. Sami Khan, Agha Saifullah, Khalil Ahmad, Qamar, Khurshid Ahmad, Fareed Ahmad, Naveed Qamar Ahmed, Mehmood, Aziz Ahmad, Mansoor Ahmad, Syed Mubashar Ahmad, A. Manan, Kausar
Jhang, Chanab Nagar
298/C 298/B 16 MPO
Chanab Nagar
15-08-2005
Preaching and used Islamic expressions.
Arrested
Accused person are publishers and printers of different magazines. Police sealed the press (later on the press was de-sealed).

Fundamental freedoms
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

… It is the will of the people of Pakistan to establish an order … wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before law, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to law and public morality

Constitution of Pakistan
Preamble

Subject to law, public order and morality (a) every citizen shall have the right to profess, practise and propagate his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof shall have the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions.

Article 20

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 18

No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have a religion or belief of his choice.

No one shall be subject to discrimination by any state, institution, group of persons, or person on the grounds of religion or other belief.

UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of
Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief

Articles 1(2) and 2(1)

Across the country, attacks on religious minorities increased. The attacks came in the form of ‘fatwas’ threatening non-Muslims with death, in the form of attacks on temples, churches and other places of worship and in the form of the increased kidnapping of members of minority communities.

Even more disturbing than the attacks themselves was the failure of authorities to act under applicable laws against the culprits. This policy spurred on further intolerance, despite official claims to the contrary, and increased feelings of insecurity among non-Muslim citizens. The material included in some text-books contributed towards the bias against religions other than Islam, while a minor amendment made in the blasphemy law late in 2004, requiring police to investigate any incident before arresting anyone for blasphemy, was frequently ignored. Minority communities remained vulnerable to charges of blasphemy, while demands from Christian leaders that charges of blasphemy also be extended to attacks on the religion or religious personalities central to faiths other than Islam went unheeded.

Social and economic discrimination continued. The Ahmadis, who faced persecution under specific laws, were the worst affected, facing multiple threats to life and property. There was also increased evidence that Ahmadis, and indeed all non-Muslims, were increasingly denied equal access to jobs and education. In more and more cases, blasphemy laws, to which members of minority communities were especially vulnerable, were used to settle property, monetary or personal disputes.

Discrimination by State

Acts of discrimination by the State and its agencies most severely affected the rights of non-Muslims.

While the joint electorate was, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), restored for the local government polls, in practice lists for minority voters were maintained separately. The listing of Ahmadis on a separate list, a move the community leaders protested since it categorised them as non-Muslims, meant Ahmadis boycotted polls, and the community was, as such, effectively defranchised. … In March, the column requiring passport holders to state their religion was restored in Pakistani passports, amid strong protests from minority rights groups, and also other citizens. These groups argued that by including a column on religion in passports, the document in fact became a certificate of religious belief, and a possible ground for discrimination. The column on religious belief had been eliminated when new, machine-readable passports were introduced in 2004, as part of measures to bring travel documents in line with internationally-set standards. The elimination of the column drew fierce criticism from religious parties, and also members of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), the largest party within the ruling coalition. The party’s president, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, was among those who assured religious leaders it would be restored. A five-member ministerial committee, headed by Defence Minister Rao Sikander Iqbal, early in the year advised the column be reintroduced with a decision to his effect adopted by the federal cabinet a few weeks later. It was also decided the religion of the holder would be stamped onto passports that had already been issued without the column.

The Hasba Bill, passed in July in the NWFP, setting in place a ‘Mohtasib’ (ombudsman) to curb maladministration and guard public morality and etiquette in the province and to ensure Islamic values were respected, was also perceived by minority communities as a potential tool for further harassment. In August, the Supreme Court — after a constitutional reference filed by President Pervez Musharraf — ruled that some clauses of the controversial Bill were unconstitutional, and advised the NWFP Governor not to sign it.

Leaders of minority communities pointed out that while National Assembly seats had been increased from 200 to 332, the reserved seats for minorities had not been increased. They demanded that the ten reserved seats be increased in proportion to the population growth of minority communities, and also sought improved representation for non-Muslims in government service.

Various incidents were reported during the year of attacks on the holy places of minorities, on members of these communities or of attempts to incite hatred against them. The State remained a silent witness in almost each case, with this impunity available to perpetrators encouraging other outrages [See sections on Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians].

Growth of intolerance and curbs on religious freedoms


In its report for 2004, released in May, the US Department of State committee on international religious freedoms observed police in Pakistan often failed to act against those guilty of harassing or inflicting violence on members of minority groups. It also noted provisions of the penal code prohibited Ahmadis from engaging in any Muslim practices, including using Muslim greetings, referring to their places of worship as mosques, reciting Islamic prayers, and participating in the Haj or Ramadan fast. Ahmadis were under these laws prohibited from proselytizing, holding gatherings, or distributing religious literature. Government forms, including passport applications and voter registration documents, required anyone wishing to be listed as a Muslim to denounce the founder of the Ahmadi faith. Ahmadis were frequently discriminated against in government hiring and in admission to schools.

*Ahmadis

As in previous years, Ahmadis faced the worst discrimination, both by State and by other actors in society.

Laws specific to Ahmadis prevented the community from calling themselves Muslims, calling their places of worship mosques, worshipping in a mosque or other public place, reciting publicly from the Holy Quran or making any other affirmation of the Muslim faith to which they professed they belonged. The threat of blasphemy remained particularly severe for the community. Ahmadis remained effectively defranchised, while the sealing of their places of worship in several incidents added to the hardships faced by the community. [See also section on Intolerance in Society].

Some of the worst incidents reported during the year were as follows:

In Lahore, in January, Dr. Mansur Ahmad Waqar was targetted apparently by anti-Ahmadi religious extremists. His clinic was burned down and equipment and records destroyed. Despite Dr Mansur.s claims of an arson attack, no case was registered by police and no investigation conducted.
Another Ahmadi doctor, Dr Mubashair Ahmad, survived an alleged murder attempt in May in the Gujrat District, where he was attacked by four armed men outside his clinic at night. The incident was reported to the police.
In February, an Ahmadi youth, Nasim Ahmed, enrolled at an educational institution in Lahore, became embroiled in a heated discussion with some of his classmates. Subsequently, he was allegedly poisoned by these class-mates and survived only after being rushed to hospital. His family claimed that after this incident, Nasim Ahmed suffered acute depression and was admitted to a mental institution. Approximately two months later, local Muslims arrived at his home and told his parents that he had in fact converted to Islam. They accused them of wrongfully confining their son in the mental institution. This led to a court hearing. The court dismissed the case. In the immediate aftermath of the hearing, local Muslims tried to kidnap Nasim Ahmad, but failed after police intervened to protect the family. They were subsequently forced to shift out of Lahore.
Abdur Razzaq suffered a severe beating In March, in the town of Kakki Nau in Jhang district. He was also charged under Sections 295, 295A and 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code for converting to the Ahmadi faith. Razzaq, according to reports, had converted, and then enraged a local cleric by urging him to study the Ahmadi faith.
On April 21, 2005, three Ahmadis were sentenced to death after being convicted of killing Muhammed Amir, alleged to be an anti-Ahmadi extremist and his son, Shabbir Hussain, in Gujrat in 2003. Ahmadi organizations maintained evidence produced at the trial was falsified.
In June, a sessions judge in district Sialkot ordered the sealing of an Ahmadi place of worship in Khiva Bajwa, Sialkot, on the appeal of a local cleric. Hearings into the matter were continuing, but Ahmadis feared the building could remain sealed for months or even years, as had happened in similar cases in the past.
Munir Ahmad, a recent covert to the Ahmadi faith, was brutally murdered in Rahwali in the Punjab in July 2005. He was reportedly stabbed multiple times by his nephews who stormed his house and also chopped off Mr. Ahmad’s wife’s hand. Their daughter also sustained injuries in the attack. In another case of conversion, this time in the Leiah district, Mohammed Imran was beaten up by his family for changing his faith. His father subsequently disinherited him.
[In early October, eight Ahmadis were killed and 20 injured when four gunmen on motorcyclists entered a place of worship in village Mong, near Mandi Bahuddin, and opened indiscriminate fire on those present].

Ahmadis were repeatedly prevented from holding public meetings in Rabwah (renamed Chenabnagar), while complaints of discrimination in admissions to educational institutions, in employment and in promotions came in through the year. Ahmadi publications in Jhang were temporarily banned during the year. Handbills and pamphlets distributed in various cities urged consumers to boycott items produced by Ahmadi manufacturers, while evidence of the deep-lying bias against the community was also reflected in some Press and television reports.

Victims of blasphemy laws

As in previous years, Muslims most often fell victim to blasphemy laws, which were used with increased frequency as a means to settle personal or monetary scores.

There was no evidence that a minor amendment made in the blasphemy laws in October 2004 had any impact in preventing its misuse. Under the amended law, the police was required to investigate allegations before charging and arresting anyone, but this in most cases did not happen, as in Nowshera in June when a Christian was charged with blasphemy on the basis of accounts provided by children.

It was also obvious that police made no efforts to protect people accused of blasphemy. In one of the worst incidents reported during the year, Ashiq Nabi, of village Spin Khak in Nowshera, was killed by a mob of villagers after remaining on the run for several days in April. After charges of blasphemy, and the issuing of a .fatwa. by a local cleric in April, he and his family had feared he would be killed. The charges against Nabi, who a HRCP fact-finding team comprising leading lawyers, activists, journalists and reserachers, found suffered mental ill-health, stemmed from an incident during a quarrel with his wife. Nabi was accused of hurling the Holy Quran to the floor. His wife, apparently the sole witness to the incident, denied this. Nabi himself was reported to have repeatedly sought forgiveness after he was forced to flee his home and hide in fields for days. The HRCP team, that visited Spin Khak in May, days after the mob killing, found many people seemed uncertain of the facts but had been spurred on by the mob frenzy that developed after the issuance of the ‘fatwa’.

In August, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi sentenced Younis Sheikh, 40, to death for writing a book titled ‘Shaitan Maulvi’ (Satanic cleric). Sheikh had been arrested early in 2005 under blasphemy laws. It was alleged some of the contents of the book were blasphemous.

In a study by the Justice and Peace Commission of the 647 blasphemy cases reported in the media since 1988, it was noted that nearly 90 cases were against Christians. This was despite the fact that Christians accounted for less than three percent of Pakistan’s estimated 162 million population — 95 per cent of whom were Muslim. Calls from HRCP and other organizations to scrap blasphemy laws or at least introduce major amendments to prevent their abuse as a means of harassment and intimidation, went unheeded.

Recommendations

1.
All laws that discriminate against minorities and provide legal sanction for such discrimination must be scrapped. These include the continued separate electoral lists. A single list for all voters must be put in place, as a means to end discrimination and the growing sense of social divide. The column on religious belief should also be eliminated from passports, as it can serve no useful purpose while acting as a potential tool of harassment.
2.
The increased threat to the life and welfare of minority groups by militants, and the growing discrimination they face, cannot be tackled by expanding policing alone. Holistic policies, aimed at upgrading the declining status of non-Muslims and tackling the issue of intolerance and militancy through broad-ranging reforms, need urgently to be put in place to avoid a further loss of life.
3.
Ahmadis should be granted the right to profess and practise their faith, as equal citizens of the country. Specific laws against them should be done away with while acts of discrimination by authorities must be halted.
4.
Those guilty of violence against minority communities or of instigating others to carry out attacks, whether through sermons, pamphlets, posters or any other means, must be acted against under relevant laws. The failure to penalise those carrying out such acts is encouraging attacks on minority communities and their places of worship. Minority groups must be given the full protection of the law.
5.
Those accused under blasphemy laws must be protected both within and outside jails. The basic flaws in the law have not been resolved through the amendment made in October 2004. Capitulating to pressure from those threatening violence and failing to make essential changes in the law can only encourage the forces of obscurantism.
6.
The judiciary at all levels, district administrations and law enforcers must be made aware of the need to protect minority groups under the law and avoid falling victim to prejudices against them. The hasty registration of cases frequently encourages orthodox groups to initiate further such action and thus worsening the situation for minorities.
7.
Sectarian violence must be curbed by enforcing laws against the keeping of arms, stopping the training of militants and checking the growth of bias based on religious belief.
8.
In view of the increasingly dangerous situation in the country, efforts must be made to build an environment of greater tolerance. Incorporating material on the rights of minorities in school curriculums, providing more public space to the various schools of Islamic thought adhered to by many in the country, that are opposed to the orthodox interpretations imposed by militant groups and encouraging debate and discussion at all forums can all form a part of such a strategy. Material in text-books that is in any way biased against religions other that Islam or promotes one Muslim sect over the other, must be removed.
10.
Forced conversions and undue pressure on members of minority communities to convert, must be halted. All citizens of the country, regardless of belief, also need to be protected from discrimination, intimidation or harassment of all kinds.

Freedom of expression

Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court or commission of or incitement to an offence.

Constitution of Pakistan
Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 19

Restraints on Press freedoms

In August, Jhang police confiscated copies of a daily newspaper, ‘al-Fazl’ and a monthly magazine and sealed two printing presses belonging to members of the Ahmadi community in Rabwah (renamed Chenabnagar), apparently on the grounds of preventing the spread of religious hatred. The presses were handed back to the owners a few days later and publication resumed.

Democratic development
Political participation

Despite a restoration of the joint electorate, in some cases separate polling booths for Muslim and non-Muslim voters were retained in Lahore. The Ahmadis continued to be denied a joint electorate, whereas non-Muslim candidates in many cases were allotted degrading symbols such as a dog, rat or snake. [See also Chapter on Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion].


HRCP : http://www.hrcp-web.org/
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