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Ahmadis wait for justice
* Annual report says 11 of the community killed, 60 charged on religious grounds in 2005
LAHORE: Violations of the Ahmadiyya Community’s rights and discrimination against the community continued in 2005 as 11 Ahmadis were killed, 60 charged on religious grounds and 16 accused of blasphemy, according to the community’s annual report.
“The year 2005 could not bring the long awaited relief to Ahmadis from the policies begun by Gen Ziaul Haq 21 years ago,” the report said. The Ahmadiyya Community was denied freedom of assembly, expression and speech, the document accused, despite the authorities’ claims of safeguarding minorities’ rights. It said President Musharraf’s ‘enlightened moderation’ had failed as more Ahamdis faced charges on religious grounds than last year. “Laws were stretched to the limit of absurdity to cook up charges.”
The 105-page report supported with annexes said 11 Ahmadis were killed because of religious discrimination, including eight who were killed while they were praying in Moung in district Mandi Bahauddin. The investigation has been kept secret and has produced no results so far. About 79 Ahmadis have been killed because of their religion since 1984, the report said.
It said some anti-Ahmadiyya groups distributed currency notes stamped with, “Every Ahmadi must be killed” but the government did not take any action. The report said most of the Ahmadis were killed in the last quarter of 2005 in various parts of the country. According to the document, 60 Ahmadis were arrested in cases relating religion out of which 16 were later released. It said 16 Ahmadis were accused of blasphemy, 24 were booked under Ahmadiyya-specific laws and 20 were charged under other religious laws.
The authorities continued to implement Ahmadiyya-specific laws, the report said, and the police ignored the modified legal procedure for registering a first information report (FIR). It accused the authorities of attacking Ahmadiyya press, but it said they later relented.
The document said the controversial decision of adding the religion column to machine readable passports affected the community and it was made impossible for Ahmadis to contest the local government elections. Saleemuddin, a representative of the community, said the Urdu press was irresponsible in reporting issues relating the Ahmadiyya Community and more than 1,300 reports containing hate material against Ahmadis were published in the Urdu press in 2005.
Ahmadiyya Community’s representatives said Ahmadis were not allowed to hold religious gatherings in Rabwah, a city with 90 percent Ahmadi population, although several anti-Ahmadiyya and extremist groups were permitted to hold events. They said Ahmadis were also removed from the political set up and there was no local representative of the community in Rabwah. The community appealed to the government to end religious discrimination against it. “General Musharraf has apparently decided to yield to mullas, an intimidating minority, on the Ahmadiyya issue,” the report concluded. “The marriage of convenience between the state and Islamism should be dissolved — sooner the better.”