Taliban oppresses Ahmadi Muslim sect in Pakistan
In June 2010, at least 95 members of the Ahmadi Muslim sect were killed and nearly 100 injured in attacks on their places of worship in Garhi in Lahore, Pakistan’s Punjab province. This attack is part of a campaign against Ahmadis by Islamist groups such as the Sunni Tehrik, Tehrik-e-Tahafaz-e-Naomoos-e-Risalat, Khatm-e-Nabuwat and many others who are openly sympathetic to terrorist groups, including Taliban. Ironically, most of the politicians were very careful to condemn the attacks on Ahmadis. Even Punjab’s chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, leader of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Nawaz Group), has not shown his face at either mosque, despite living down the road from them. Mohammed Hanif, a journalist, writes, “When the funerals of the massacred Ahmadis took place there were no officials, no politicians present.”
Later, former Pakistan Prime Minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif said that the members of the minority Ahmedi sect are his brothers and sisters and that militants should be flushed out wherever they are active. His comments drew sharp criticism from religious parties like Khatm-e-Nabuwat Movement (KNM), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami. Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, the head of KNM, a member of the PML-N and the Punjab provincial assembly, also condemned Sharif’s statement. There was no doubt that Maulana Chinioti seems to be openly preaching that non-Muslims are lesser humans. Daily Times says that those who dare to defend the rights of religious minorities are usually labeled as being ‘anti-Islam’.
According to The News of Pakistan, a surviving attacker of the Lahore carnage, Abdullah alias Muhammad, disclosed that he was misled into believing that Ahmadis were involved in drawing blasphemous cartoons of Mohammed, and believed that killing them was a great service to Islam. The attacker belongs to a militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda. He was trained in Miramshah in North Waziristan, lawless tribal area of Pakistan.
Right after the Lahore carnage, a mysterious SMS campaign has been launched against Ahmaddiya community which makes them more fearful, the Minorities Concern of Pakistan learnt. Moreover, the Islamists issued statements in which they asked Ahmadis to cease from hurting the feelings of the majority population. Jamaat-i-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hasan, on June 18, warned of a fresh Khatm-i-Nubuwwat movement if the “Ahmadis did not accept their minority status” in Pakistan. At the same time, many blame a “foreign hand.” Some openly said that the Indian intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was involved in Lahore attacks. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik declared on June 18 that the RAW was not involved in the killing of Ahmadis.
Ahmadiyya sect was formed in 1880s in Qadian, India. They view themselves as Muslims but hardliners consider them non-Muslims. They are a relatively small minority in Pakistan and they make up somewhere between 0.25 per cent (according to Pakistan’s census 1998). However, the Economist estimates that their population is 2.5 per cent. They have always been a soft target for persecution. The campaign against them is a decade ago. Before the partition, Anti-Ahmadiyya agitation instigated by Majlis-i-Ahrar, a lower middle class party.
In 1934, Ahrar arranged a big gathering against Ahmadis called Tahafuz-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference, held at Qadian. Ahrar was angry with Ahmadiyya community to support Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah for the demand of Pakistan. In 1953, six Ahmadis lost their lives when an anti-Ahmadiyya wave swept in newly founded Pakistan. The state constituted an inquiry commission; Justice Muhammad Munir as president and Justice Kayani as member. The commission’s report, also called Munir Report, carried an analysis of the Ulema’s concept of the Islamic State and of a Muslim. The report concluded that the concept of a Muslim differed for different sects and if the fatwas of the Ulema were relied upon to determine whether an individual is Muslim or Kafir then no sect could be called Muslim because of the lack of a single, coherent and unanimous definition of a Muslim and an Islamic State.
According to Waqar Gilani, in 1973, the then president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Sardar Abdul Qayyum declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. In the same year, Rabta-e-Alam-e-Islami Conference in Saudi Arabia also gave its stamp of approval to oust Ahmadis from the circle of Islam. The unfortunate beating of the students of Nishtar Medical College, Multan, on May 29, 1974, proved to be a major incident that infuriated this anti-Ahmadi movement. The students, going on train, started shouting against Ahmadis while reaching Rabwah, the headquarter city of Ahmadis in Pakistan, resulting in a strong reaction of Ahmadis to this gathering. The incident geared up the Khatm-e-Nabuwat movement that started a violent protest.
On Sept. 6, 1974, a minor incident sparked other anti-Ahmadiyya riots leaving 24 members of Ahmadiyya community dead. In the same year, they were declared non-Muslims by the parliament.
On April 26, 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq promulgated the Martial Law Ordinance XX. Through this ordinance he introduced some blasphemy laws which undercut the activities of religious minorities generally, but struck at Ahmadis in particular. Since then, frequently, they have been arrested for greeting someone with an Assalam-o-Alaikum, reciting the kalima or reading the Holy Quran. “In the period 1984-2009, 105 Ahmadis were target killed. During the same period, 22 Ahmadiyya mosques were demolished, 28 were sealed by authorities, 11 were set on fire, and 14 were occupied while construction of 41 was banned. In at least 47 cases, burials were denied in common grave yards while 28 bodies were exhumed,” Adnan Farooq and Riaz ul Hassan write in View Point.
Since 2000, an estimated 400 Ahmadis have been formally charged in criminal cases, including blasphemy. According to one report, in 2009, at least 37 Ahmadis were charged under the general provisions of the blasphemy laws and over 50 were charged under Ahmadi-specific provisions of the law. Many of these individuals remain imprisoned.
It is apparent that both the Pakistani state and society are both are very hostile against Ahmadis. Moreover, both printed and electronic Pakistani media have also played a role in spreading hatred against this community. Recently, the Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) blamed the major media outlets in Pakistan for inflaming the rhetoric against Ahmadiyya, Ismaili and Shia Muslims. In particular, the MCC pointed out that GEO Television has become the voice of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and spreads hate against these communities as well as against non-Muslims.
According to one report, “After the attacks some newspapers ran op-ed article creating an impression as if these attacks were a violent consequence of ongoing polemic between certain Muslim sects and the Ahmadiyyas.”
The Minorities Concern of Pakistan learnt that when Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya’s arranged a press conference after Lahore incident most of the reporters refused to take tea there.
Adnan Farooq writes on June 18: It remained a routine with the Urdu papers to print anti-Ahmadiyya statements and hate-mongering stories with bold headlines. However, no paper published the occasional Ahmadiyya explanation. In year 2007, 974 such news items appeared in the press, but in 2008 the number went up to 1033 items. Almost all of these were prejudiced, hate-promoting and false propaganda. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt (with editor Majeed Nizami) led this bandwagon by printing 465 items. The daily Jang stood second, and the Daily Express was a close third. Provocative statements issued by various clerics’ are carried without any verification. A few of these headlines are translated below: Qadianis are not loyal to the country, nation and Islam: ‘Sajid Mir’ (The daily Jang, Lahore; May 27, 2008) - Qadianis are enemies of Islam and Pakistan: Shadabi Raza, Mufti M. Sadeeq (The Daily Express, Lahore; June 2, 2008).
Source: Minorities Concern of Pakistan