Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Media Reports 2007 Pakistani minorities …
Pakistani minorities better off but serious problems remain
Daily Times
Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pakistani minorities better off but serious problems remain

* Int’l Religious Freedom Report says govt fails to prevent societal abuse against minorities

By Khalid Hasan

Washington: Pakistan took some steps to improve its treatment of religious minorities last year but serious problems remain, according to the International Religious Freedom Report of 2007.

The report released here on Friday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody. Security forces and other government agencies did not adequately prevent or address societal abuse against minorities. Discriminatory legislation and the government’s failure to take action against societal forces hostile to those who practice a different faith fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities. Specific laws that discriminate against religious minorities include anti-Ahmadi and blasphemy laws that provide the death penalty for defiling Islam or its prophets. The government enacted the Women’s Protection Act, which amended the Hudood Ordinance, by moving rape and adultery cases from the Shari’a to secular courts. President Pervez Musharraf ordered the release of all women imprisoned under the Hudood Ordinances; few remain in custody, and most are housed in government-run group homes.

The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its faith. Members of other Islamic sects also claimed governmental discrimination.

According to the yearly review, the ninth in running, relations between religious communities were tense. Societal discrimination against religious minorities was widespread, and societal violence against such groups occurred. Societal actors, including terrorist and extremist groups and individuals, targeted religious congregations. The report pointed out that freedom of speech is subject to “reasonable” restrictions in the interests of the “glory of Islam”. The consequences for contravening the country’s blasphemy laws are death for defiling Islam or its prophets; life imprisonment for defiling, damaging, or desecrating the Quran; and 10 years’ imprisonment for insulting another’s religious feelings. These laws are often used to settle personal scores as well as to intimidate reform-minded Muslims, sectarian opponents, and religious minorities.

The annual review credited President Musharraf with strongly promoting and signing into law in December last year the Women’s Protection Act, which essentially moved cases of rape and adultery to secular rather than Sharia courts. Previously, the Hudood Ordinance, which criminalise rape, fornication, property crimes, alcohol use, and gambling, often relied on harsh and discriminatory Quranic standards of evidence and punishment, which applied equally to Muslims and non-Muslims. If Quranic standards are used, Muslim and non-Muslim and male and female testimony carries different weight. The report noted that the government designates religion on passports and national identity cards. Citizens must have a national identity card to vote. Those wishing to be listed as a Muslim must swear to believe that Muhammad is the final prophet and denounce the Ahmadiyya movement’s founder as a false prophet and his followers as non-Muslims, a provision designed to discriminate against Ahmadis.

Source :\09\16\story_16-9-2007_pg7_14
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