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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
US$7.00 [Order]
Author: Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan
Description: This book provides a translation by Sir Muhammad Zafarullah Khan of the Riyad as-Salihin, literally "Gardens of the Rightous", written by the Syrian Shafi'i scholar Muhyi ad-din Abu Zakariyya' Yahya b. Sharaf an-Nawawi (1233-78), who was the author of a large number of legal and biographical work, including celebrated collection of forty well-known hadiths, the Kitab al-Arba'in (actually containing some forty three traditions.), much commented upon in the Muslim countries and translated into several European languages. His Riyad as-Salihin is a concise collection of traditions, which has been printed on various occasions, e.g. at Mecca and Cairo, but never before translated into a western language. Hence the present translation by Muhammad Zafarullah Khan will make available to those unversed in Arabic one of the most typical and widely-known collection of this type.
US$14.99 [Order]

Home Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 2007
Excerpts from “State of Human Rights in 2007”

Introduction

For a better part of the year 2007 the state of Pakistan was only half alive. That naturally reduced its capacity, never rated high, to guarantee the people’s human rights. Thus, from the point of view of the people’s entitlements, their needs as well as their rights, 2007 proved to be one of the worst years in Pakistan’s history, if not the worst.

The country’s ordeal began in March 2007 with the establishment’s attempt to remove the Chief Justice and humiliate him with unprecedented crassness. His restoration in July offered the state an opportunity to return to the path of constitutionalism but then General Musharraf’s determination to secure a new term as President without shedding his army uniform and his insistence that everybody, especially the judiciary, should have ignored the constitutional bar to his ambition deepened the crisis of the state. At the beginning of November reimposition of martial law under the guise of emergency plunged the country back into absolute rule. A massive purge of the superior courts deprived the people of guarantees of their human rights, justice and democracy.

The leaders of the lawyers’ movement for the independence of the judiciary were detained and a large number of other lawyers arrested and held for short periods on charges of terrorism. The judges removed from their offices were detained at their houses along with their families. In most cases these restrictions were eventually relaxed except for Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry whose detention, routinely denied by the authorities, continued into the new year. After November 3 the lawyers, supported by civil society and student activists, launched an intense struggle for the restoration of judges which continued till the end of the year.

The revocation of emergency barely a fortnight before the close of the year did not return the country to status quo ante. On the contrary, the protection given to all extra-constitutional acts carried out under the emergency left human rights exposed to hazards of a permanent nature.

The emergency rule did not bring the people any relief from the conflict with militants. The latter were able to extend their control beyond the tribal areas, especially in the traditionally peaceful Swat valley where a fierce conflict raged for several weeks. A militant challenge developed in the heart of the federal capital itself. Radical clerics and armed militants took over the Lal Masjid and started replacing the writ of the state with their own. The government’s vacillation and failure to act in time resulted in a bloody showdown that caused heavy casualties.

The year also saw a sharp increase in suicide bombings and daring attacks on security establishments and personnel. The most prominent victim of murderous attacks was Benazir Bhutto, Chairperson of the PPP and the front-running candidate for Prime Ministership after the general election scheduled early in the new year. An attempt to liquidate her soon after her return on 18 October failed but a more elaborately planned plot on 27 December did not. Her killers remained unidentified and the government’s rejection of demand for a UN probe tended to widen the area of suspicion. Also the prospect of a smooth transition to democracy after the general election suffered considerable erosion.

The largescale purge of the judiciary, a dangerous rise in militancy, the ravages of the emergency, Ms Bhutto’s assassination and systematic assaults on the media dwarfed the routine human rights violations. But while the justice system remained largely paralysed and the channels of redress were blocked the traditional agents of human rights abuse were by no means inactive.

At least 636 women were killed for their lords’ honour and at least 731 were gangraped / raped; the NGOs working for girls’ education and women welfare remained under attack, especially in northern parts of the country; infant mortality remained high, and Pakistan lagged behind in meeting MDG obligations; the presence of over two thousand juveniles in prisons betrayed a failure to enforce a rational system of juvenile justice; the jails remained crowded with 67% of the detainees being undertrials; the police dealt with lawyers and other protestors with unprecedented savagery, at least 66 deaths in custody were reported, a minimum of 927 people were killed in suicide blasts, and sectarian violence claimed at least 580 lives.

All of which meant that the country’s human rights agenda was unlikely to be lightened in 2008, and that there was no alternative to constant vigilance.

-- Najam U Din
Saira Ansari

Highlights

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
Sectarian violence claimed 580 lives and wounded 1,120 others.
The militants entrenched themselves in parts of NWFP and the tribal areas, taking over several towns and implementing their version of Sharia. They also targeted girls’ schools and CD shops and threatened religious minorities to convert to Islam or leave the area.
The Shia community remained the main target of sectarian attacks.
5 Ahmedis were murdered in 2007 while 36 faced prosecution in faith-related cases.
Places of worship and graveyards remained a target of land grabbing mafia.

Rule of Law
Administration of justice

Cases on religious grounds

A division bench of the Lahore High Court acquitted one Idrees Rabbani, who had been awarded death sentence by a sessions court in Multan.

The court held that nobody could be convicted for blasphemy without evidence of his having committed the offence deliberately. If a person’s remarks fell within a sect’s definition of blasphemy but other sects thought differently, he could not be convicted of blasphemy. The courts could not intervene in such sectarian controversies.

New cases

According to information available to HRCP, 23 new cases on religious grounds were initiated during 2007, and all of them except three were registered in Punjab. More than 50% (13 out of 23) were against Muslims, four against Ahmedis and six against Christians.

In cases under the main blasphemy provision the prosecution often requested trial in prison, obviously to protect judges and others against gherao of courts by mobs collected by conservative clerics.

In some cases the technique of video trial was used. The accused saw video clips of witnesses deposing against or for him.

Against Ahmedis

Four cases against 23 Ahmedis were initiated (two in Punjab, two in Sindh). In one case a man who had died three months earlier was accused of the offence.
Sr.
No.
Name /s
Address
U/S
Allegation
Remarks
01.
Shahid M. Ansari,
Amir A. Ansari
Karachi
 298-C,
506 PPC 
Claimed to be Muslims
Bail granted by sessions judge
02.
Saeed Ahmad
Sargodha
295-C, 298-C PPC
and 9 ATA
Preaching
Section 295-C was added
03.
Dr. Mumtaz Ali
Rajanpur
298, 295-A
 
The accused had died 3 moths prior to the registration of the case.
04.
Mukhtar A Chandio,
Aqil Ahmad,
Javed Ahmad,
Masud A Chandio,
Nadir Husain,
Mansur Chandio,
Saeed Sardar,
Nasir Meraj Chandio,
Suhail and
10 unnamed persons.
Qamber Ali Khan
295-C, 298, 298-C, 506/2
Preaching and uttering blasphemous words
--

No mosque on illegally seized land

The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) ruled that construction of mosques on encroached land, private or government-owned, was illegal and un-Islamic. A sale-deed or permission from owners was necessary for building a mosque anywhere.

The CII said this in response to the Karachi-based National Institute of Oceanology (NIO) on whose land some unknown people had built a mosque without authorization. Intervention by NIO’s parent ministry did not help.

In Islamabad the problem of unauthorised mosques became serious. In September 2006 the Interior Ministry had asked the Capital Development Authority to demolish unauthorized mosques. The order was only partly obeyed and so was General Pervez Musharraf’s directive to demolish illegally-constructed mosques. Later on demolition of some mosques in Islamabad led to the confrontation between the administration and the Lal Masjid controllers. In January, the students (girls) of Jamia Hafsa occupied the government’s children’s library, adjacent to the Lal Masjid, in protest against the demolition of a mosque on Murree Road, Rawalpindi.

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)

Madrassa militancy under licence?The year 2007 witnessed an alarming increase in religious intolerance and militant activity and suicide bombings became a daily occurrence affecting the life of every citizen. The militants took advantage of heightened political tensions in a year of upcoming elections and of a country plunged in crisis after the suspension of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry by President Musharraf on March 9. The militants succeeded in entrenching themselves in NWFP and in Swat where they took over several towns in which they implemented their own version of Sharia and hoisted flags over government buildings and guarded important sites such as banks. The government appeared to be on the run as the suicide bombers were able to attack and kidnap army personnel with impunity. Also, the growing political power and influence of religious extremists to instigate violence against the members of religious minorities, moderate Muslim leaders and, indeed, against the government itself was in evidence.

The year was marked by the setting up of a Qazi court in Lal Masjid on April 5, a parallel judicial system right in the heart of the federal capital, openly challenging the writ of the government. The occupation by the management of Lal Masjid of the government’s Children Library located next to Madressa Hafsa on January 21 (even before setting up the Qazi court) was the start of a series of acts of defiance of the government by the Lal Masjid’s hardline clerics.

A Taliban police station in Matta, SwatOn July 11, the security forces after a bloody combat took back control of the Lal Masjid from militants. In the wake of that conflict, Pakistan and the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Agencies (FATA) were rocked by explosions and by suicide bombings. Suicide bomb attacks spread to other cities in Pakistan including Islamabad and Karachi.

The US State Department in its annual International Religious Freedom Report, said, “Discriminatory legislation and the government’s failure to take action against societal forces hostile to those who practice minority faiths fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against followers of certain religious groups. Law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody. Security forces and other government agencies did not adequately prevent or address societal abuse against minorities.” (N, Sep 17)

Growth of intolerance and Talibanisation

… From July 2005 to May 2007, law enforcement agencies in the Punjab registered as many as 8,893 cases against 9,562 activists of various religious organizations, administrators of seminaries and khateebs for publication of hate literature, misuse of loudspeakers, fanning sectarian hatred and display of weapons. Out of 9,562 accused involved in sectarianism, extremism and display of arms, 8,767 were arrested with a ratio of 91.68%. 8,619 accused were challaned and 2,001 (23.21%) were convicted by the courts. (NE, Oct 22)

Sectarian violence

Sectarian violence has claimed more than 4,000 lives since the late 1980s. (RNE, May 6) In 2007 increased violence resulting from intolerance and bigotry once again took the form of sectarian violence. The Shia community remained the main target of such attacks. Some of the worst incidents of sectarian violence were reported from Peshawar, Hangu and Parachinar. …

*Ahmedis

Ahmedis continued to be attacked for their faith and were discriminated against by the State and society. They were not allowed to participate in the electoral process in the same way as other citizens and minorities. They could only do so by filling in a separate electoral form and this they declined. The Ahmedi community and other minority groups had very little recourse to law to protect themselves from the clerics.

According to the annual report of the Ahmedi community of Pakistan five Ahmedis were murdered in 2007 because of their faith while 36 faced charges and prosecution in faith-related cases. The report also claimed that the Election Commission had promulgated special procedures to ensure that Ahmedis disassociated themselves from the elections despite the revival of joint electorate. (DT, Feb 6, 2008)

The Ahmedis had difficulty in buying space to bury their dead as no local authority in Lahore was prepared to offer them land for a cemetery. They bought a piece of land in Handu Gujjar to extend their existing cemetery. In April when the Ahmedis were building a fence around their graveyard, the local clerics claimed that this was an attempt to build a “mini Rabwah”. The clerics used loudspeakers and spoke from the mosques to urge people to “unite against the Ahmedis”. The police failed to stop the religious extremists and a warning was given to the Ahmedi community to demolish the boundary wall fencing their graveyard. Thereafter police arrived in Handu Gujjar in five buses and demolished the wall saying the construction was illegal because the town authorities had not approved the plans. (DT, Apr 20, Apr 26)

The body of a 60-year-old Ahmedi woman, in Khuda Abad village in the Badin district of Sindh, was exhumed from a Muslim-Ahmedi common graveyard after local clerics protested against the burial. The body was reburied in an Ahmedi graveyard in the presence of the district police. (DT, Jun 14)

In January an FIR was lodged against five Ahmedis, by an Intelligence Bureau official, for subscribing to Jamaate-Ahmediya’s monthly children’s magazine Tasheezul Azhan. A case was registered under Section 17 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) Ordinance in the Chora Kalan police station. The IB officer submitted that the magazine was “banned literature” and contained “hate material”. The representatives of the Ahmedi community said they did not believe the magazine had been banned and a study of the 50-page magazine showed no obvious “hate material”; the articles were restricted to discussions about Ahmedi beliefs. (DT, Feb 2)

In June an FIR was registered under sections 298-C and 506-B of PPC in Karachi where the Surjani Town police arrested two brothers for allegedly preaching Ahmedi beliefs after literature, books and other material pertaining to their Ahmedi faith were found in their possession. (DT, Jun 3)

In May, several residents living next to Masjid-e-Khizra in Samanabad, Lahore, started campaigning against an Ahmedi government school deputy headmaster because they believed that he would be made the headmaster. Even after an official of the Education Department made it clear that the person could not be made a headmaster as he was only a BS-17 officer whereas a government school headmaster had to be a BS-20 officer, a cleric, continued to demand the transfer of the deputy headmaster in his Friday sermon. (DT, May 19)

According to an Ahmedia Jamaat report in September extremist elements continued targeting Ahmedis and nine cases were reported from Rahimyar Khan, one in Nawabshah, two in Rabwa and one in Jhelum. Two Ahmedis were ostracized in a bicycle market in Rahimyar Khan. There, the extremist clerics also demanded Ahmedi mosques in the area be dismantled and that Ahmedis remove the name Mohammad from their names or be punished.

Blasphemy laws and their victims

……
Ashraf Jheera, who adopted Ahmedi belief, was shot dead by his brother, Riaz, who was a policeman. Riaz told media men at the police station that he had done nothing wrong as he had applied the Islamic law, which prescribed death for apostasy. (NE, Mar 2)
……

Intolerance at university and college campuses

In August a prayer issue caused tension at the Punjab University (PU) when Shia students asked the administration to allow them to lead the prayers on alternate days at the university’s mosque. Usually the Islami-Jamait-i-Talaba (IJT) led the prayers and the Shia students prayed behind them in the congregation. The PU administration disallowed the request; fearing Sunni-Shia clashes, they also stopped Shia students from entering the mosque. This led to countrywide protests by the Shia students. (DT, August 15)

In August Imamia Students Organisation (ISO) alleged that the PU administration stopped Shia students from offering collective prayers in a hostel mosque and also photographed them entering that hostel. The university decided that Shia students must not pray collectively but offer prayers separately in their own hostels. (DT, Aug 27)

A comment

Those who had decided to designate Pakistan as an “Islamic Republic” almost certainly did not visualize that they were opening the door to religious extremism that was bound to undermine the cohesion of the state.

Continuing official patronage of anything that masquerades as Islamic, especially during the Zia-ul-Haq era, has led to growing extremism and militancy under the garb of pristine Islam. A growing number of Muslims have begun to feel that the only true version of Islam is the one they practise, and that it is their religious duty to enforce it on all and sundry by deploying all possible means, including the use of force against those who do not fall in line. They contend that the state has failed to serve Islam, which it was bound to do, and it is, therefore, their bounden duty to spread their version of the true faith at all cost.

Over the years, hardly anyone in authority has taken action to discourage and punish such affronts and challenges to the writ of the state, most regimes surrendering to the tunnel vision of the mullahs and turning a blind eye to their spreading of hatred against those who did not subscribe to their disfigured version of Islam. The result is plain to see: a galloping increase in religious militancy, mainly growing out of the religious schools supported and pampered by the state, that is not only killing innocent people but now also openly challenging the authority of the state.

The wrath of religious militants is no longer confined to the religious minorities (although they continue to be the most convenient and easiest targets to persecute and chastise with impunity), it is now also directed towards the functionaries of the state, especially the police and the armed forces. The situation is fast approaching the threshold of a civil war which can be corrected only through a determined effort by the state to root out extremism and militancy by all means necessary. Force needs to be used as required to overcome the militants, paying special attention to de-weaponizing the society with all necessary compulsive means, taking the strictest possible action against those who do not surrender weapons. Such action would reduce the ability of the misguided sections of society to perpetrate violence and spread mayhem that has begun to threaten the integrity of the state.

Affiliation of a state to a religion has always led to institutionalising discrimination against those who profess a different faith – and that is exactly what has happened in Pakistan. Discrimination by the state, duly enshrined in the constitution and the laws of the land, encourages additional social discrimination, virtually reducing religious minorities to second-class citizens whose rights and welfare are easily ignored and violated both by the majority community and the state.

Some scholars hold that Islam is a secular religion that does not permit any abridgement whatsoever of the rights of those who follow other faiths. However, this view does not find favour with the rulers of Pakistan where not only non-Muslims but also the minority sects within Islam are denigrated and persecuted with impunity.

Extension of the full range of human rights to all sections of society – irrespective of race, gender and religion – is the bounden duty of every state that has signed the Human Rights Charter of the United Nations. Having ratified this charter, Pakistan is duty bound to remove all constitutional provisions and laws from its books that violate any of the articles of the charter it has undertaken to uphold. This action will go a long way towards ending official and social discrimination and promoting greater tolerance and acceptance, thereby placing all segments of the society on an equal footing.

Recommendations

1.
It is time the official policy of indiscriminate pandering to the conservative clerics was given up.
2.
All laws that allow discrimination on grounds of belief must be repealed or reformed.
3.
While use of force is necessary to overcome the stubborn militants due attention must be paid to de-weaponising society.
4.
The state must take steps to encourage research in and propagation of what many scholars describe as humanistic and liberal traditions of Islam.

Political participation

The state shall encourage local government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and within such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women.

Constitution of Pakistan
Article 32

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

Elusive equality — bar on women and minority voters

… …
The Ahmedi community continued boycotting the general elections over the Election Commission’s “religious discrimination” in issuing a separate list for Ahmedi voters in a joint electorate system. (DT, Dec 16)

Housing

Shortage of space for the dead

Religion and graveyards

A number of incidents of razing of graves and destruction of graveyards of religious minorities were reported. In April, police in Lahore asked the Ahmedi community to demolish a boundary wall on six acres of land it had bought to extend its cemetery, after threats by local clerics. Police later bulldozed the wall, as the community consulted lawyers to seek a legal recourse against the demolition. (D, Apr 20, 23 & 26) In the same area, local influentials occupied a Christian cemetery, razed the graves, ploughed the land and sowed corn in it. (J, Sep 6)


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