Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Media Reports 2005 Mong attack Dealing with bigotry
Dealing with bigotry
Daily Times
Tuesday, October 11, 2005

LETTERS: Dealing with bigotry

Sir: Your editorial about the attack on the Ahmadiyya Community (The ‘foreign hand’ again! October 9) has identified the root cause of the problem. It is a great tragedy that religious bigotry has been allowed to tarnish the image (and self-image) of this otherwise great nation. Of course, it does have its enemies but the greatest threat it faces today comes from within. The demand for Pakistan was justified primarily in terms of allowing Muslims (and others) to freely practise their faith. It is ironic that it has become one of the most religiously intolerant countries in the world.

The persistent sectarian violence amongst the Shia and Sunni communities is intrinsically linked to the legislation and executive measures against the Ahmadiyya community. As you point out, the country is awash with bigoted mullahs. These mullahs exploited Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s political weakness to force him into sponsoring discriminatory legislation. General Ziaul Haq took this further and, in so doing, advanced the cause of the Islamists. The law not only prevented a peaceful community from calling themselves Muslims, reciting the kalima, calling for prayer or even referring to their places of worship as mosques, but also set a dangerous precedent.

Now that the state has declared a community non-Muslim, there will always be demands — not always peaceful — for similar legislation against others. From allowing man to determine the spiritual status of his fellow men, it is just one step to determining the worth of another person’s life. An ever-increasing number of mullahs have taken that step and are teaching their followers that the life and property of a heretic are not the same as their own; that attacking them is not just lawful for a Muslim, it is his duty.

The best way to control such religious leaders is to discredit their ideology. That can only happen after the government repeals laws, which tell its citizens what their faith is or is not. Pakistan needs to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18) and remove the laws banning Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims. This will upset the Islamists but it is an important step towards a truly Muslim society, which can only be based on enlightenment, freedom of conscience and justice.


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