Recommend UsEmail this PageeGazetteAlislam.org
Chenab Nagar Ahmedis terrified of ‘hate campaigns’
By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: Thousands of Ahmedis of Chenab Nagar (formerly Rabwah) are living in a curfew-like situation while awaiting another disaster, as extremists keep pressurising them by running “hate campaigns” through anti-Ahmedi conferences, distribution of provocative material and inviting participants from terror-ridden areas like Waziristan, in their events.
The over 66,000 people living in this small town have been subjected to persecution and deadly attacks since the 1970s when the then parliament of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto initiated a move to declare them non-Muslims.
However, the situation worsened after the killing of over 85 Ahmedis in a terrorist attack on their worship places on May 28 in Lahore this year. Community representatives in the area told Daily Times that extremist clerics were boosting their hate campaign against the community and their insecurity had reached to a record high because the so-called anti- Ahmedi conferences now comprised a large number of participants and seminary students from terror-ridden areas like Waziristan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
They also added that the strength of these religious seminaries was increasing, as the participants from KP and southern Punjab were promoting extremist religious ideologies they were receiving from these special conferences in Chenab Nagar and its surrounding cities, including Chiniot, Jhang, Faisalabad and Sargodha.
The community members told Daily Times that the extremist seminaries were also purchasing more and more property in the surrounding localities and such a situation had made it very difficult for the Ahmedis to move around, as target killings, violence and persecution were increasing by the day.
“We used to live in harmony and respect with the members of other communities in the surrounding areas, but now it has become very suffocating for us and our children, especially after the recent terrorist attacks on our worship places in Lahore. They (extremists) are allowed by government and local authorities to launch a hate and violence spree against us in broad daylight as posters, stickers and pamphlets against us are being distributed everywhere and there is nobody to stop them,” Usman Ahmed, a resident of Chenab Nagar, stated.
He added that the government was equally responsible for what the Ahmedis were going through across the country, as they had never taken any concrete steps to end this vicious cycle of hatred in the name of religion.
“People from all classes and walks of life are living in Chenab Nagar and are waiting for another bolt from the blue after the terrorist attacks in Lahore because the hatred against us is in full swing and at the worst degree right under the nose of the authorities,” he said.
The residents also said that the teachers in schools had started singling out Ahmedi students, and a number of potential students were even being denied admissions in various government schools and institutions of the area. They said that 2010 was the most violent and tragic year for Ahmedis in the country as the number of those who had been killed this year was 99.
“This single indicator along with the increasing number of violent cases, presence of so many religious seminaries in the area and the full-throttle hate campaign against us is enough to realise that terrorists wanted to wipe us from the face of the Earth and our government’s silence over the situation is criminal,” Amir, another resident of Chenab Nagar, said.
Residents of the area said that there were several hardliner seminaries in the area but those most actively against the Ahmedis and posed a direct threat to them included Jamia Usmania, Muslim Colony, Madrassa Masjid Khatam-e-Nabuwat, Muslim Colony, Madrassa Jamia Ahrar Kot, Wasawa and Jamia Masjid, Nalka Adda.
However, the chief of Jamia Usmania, Qari Shabbir Usmani, told Daily Times that the allegations levelled against the seminaries, including Jamia Usmania, were “a bunch of lies made up by the Ahmedis”.
He said that they organised conferences only to sensitise people that the Ahmedis were non-Muslims and nobody should consider them a Muslim, adding that they neither distributed any hate material against them nor convinced anybody to kill Ahmedis or use violence against them. Qari Shabbir added that if they were really doing something illegal against the Ahmedis, then they must have faced action by the government or law enforcement agencies by now, and since they had not received any complaints, it proved their (seminaries) point. However, he alleged that the Ahmedis themselves were terrorists and if law enforcement agencies peeped into their colonies, they would find several terrorists and weapons hidden inside the residential areas. He added that Ahmedis were the real enemies of Islam and they were not only conspiring against the state but also blasphemed against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his followers. The Punjab government spokesman could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.