Christians in Pakistan Attacked for Religious Beliefs
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community denounces violence against Pakistan’s Christian minority.
(GOJRA, Pakistan) - The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) strongly condemns the violence towards Pakistan’s Christian minority last week in the town of Gojra.
In response to a report that a Quran had been defiled, a mob of up to 20,000 individuals in Gojra rioted and, on Saturday, attacked local Christian residents for no other reason than their religious beliefs.
More than 100 Christian houses were burned and looted in a rampage that lasted 8 hours and resulted in 20 injuries and seven deaths. Pakistani authorities later stated that the report that spurred this violence was spurious.
Such episodes of religious intolerance and violence have become increasingly common since the passing of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws in 1984.
Many legal experts say the laws have been badly misused since their introduction by the military dictator General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq.
Under the laws, a religious charge filed by anyone can be subsequently used to stir hatred and justify sectarian violence. “The blasphemy law is being used to terrorize minorities in Pakistan,” said Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minority affairs, in an interview in Gojra on Sunday.
The AMC has also experienced violence towards members of its community in Pakistan due to the anti-blasphemy laws. Because of their belief in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah, over 100 members of the AMC have been killed by extremists in Pakistan. The AMC strongly opposes all violence in the name of religion and advocates universal freedom of religion.
“The Quran clearly states that there is no compulsion in religion” stated Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, vice president of AMC USA. “Freedom of religious beliefs should be a right given to all citizens of democracy and such [blasphemy] laws demonstrate the lack of tolerance for all religious minorities within Pakistan and should be strongly denounced worldwide.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) is a dynamic, reformist and fast growing international movement within Islam. Founded in 1889, AMC spans over 190 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. AMC USA, established in 1921, is the first American-Muslim organization.
Source: AMC, the only Islamic organization to believe that the long-awaited messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas (1835-1908) of Qadian. Ahmad (as) claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesusas of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammadsa. AMC believes that God sent Ahmadas, like Jesusas, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. Ahmadas’s advent has brought about an unprecedented era of Islamic revival and moderation. He divested Islam of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings.