Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home U.S. Department of State Annual Report (IRF) 2006: Pakistan
Int’l Religious Freedom Report - 2006: Pakistan

Excerpts from
U.S. Department of State
Pakistan International Religious Freedom Report 2006
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
September 15, 2006

The country is an Islamic republic. Islam is the state religion and the constitution requires that laws be consistent with Islam. The constitution states that “subject to law, public order and morality, every citizen shall have the right to profess, practice, and propagate his religion;” however, in practice the Government imposes limits on freedom of religion. Freedom of speech is constitutionally “subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam.” The country was created to be a homeland for Muslims, although its founders did not envisage it as an Islamic state. [Para # 1]

The Government took some steps to improve the treatment of religious minorities during the period covered by this report, but serious problems remained. The Government failed to protect the rights of religious 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 and acts of violence and intimidation against religious minorities. [Para # 2]

Due to the 1974 constitutional amendment declaring them non-Muslim, the Ahmadiyya community continued to face legal bars to the practice of its faith. While other minority religious communities generally were able to worship freely, their members faced governmental discrimination. Members of certain Islamic schools of thought also claimed governmental discrimination. While law enforcement personnel allegedly abused religious minorities in custody, there were no reports of deaths while in custody during the reporting period. Security forces and other government agencies did not adequately prevent or address societal abuse against minorities. [Para # 3]

Specific government policies that discriminate against religious minorities include the use of the “anti-Ahmadi laws”, the blasphemy laws, and the Hudood Ordinances. In 1984, the Government added Section 298(c), commonly referred to as the “anti-Ahmadi laws”, to the penal code. The section prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims or posing as Muslims, from referring to their faith as Islam, from preaching or propagating their faith, from inviting others to accept the Ahmadi faith, and from insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. The blasphemy laws provide the death penalty for defiling Islam or its prophets; life imprisonment for defiling, damaging, or desecrating the Qur’an; and ten years’ imprisonment for insulting the religious feelings of any citizen. These laws are often used to intimidate reform-minded Muslims, sectarian opponents, and religious minorities, or to settle personal scores. The Hudood Ordinances impose elements of Qur’anic law on both Muslims and non-Muslims and different legal standards for men and women. [Para # 4]

The provincial government in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) continued to pass directives and legislation in accordance with the conservative Islamic vision of its supporters. Despite the Hisba Bill’s passage by the NWFP Provincial Assembly in 2005, the Supreme Court overturned the bill, declaring it to be unconstitutional. [Para # 5]

During the reporting period, the Government maintained its public calls for religious tolerance, worked with moderate religious leaders to organize programs on sectarian harmony and interfaith understanding, maintained its ban on and actively attempted to curb the activities of sectarian and terrorist organizations, implemented a registration scheme for Islamic religious schools known as madrassahs, and proceeded with reform of the public education curriculum designed to end the teaching of religious intolerance. … [Para # 6]

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. More than 110 deaths accrued from sectarian violence, including terrorist attacks by Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ), during the period covered by this report. Large numbers of victims came from both Sunni and Shi’a sects. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), a coalition of Islamist political parties, continued in its political rhetoric to call for the increased Islamization of the government and society. At the end of the period covered by this report, the MMA led the opposition in the national assembly, held a majority in the NWFP Provincial Assembly, and was part of the ruling coalition in Balochistan. [Para # 7]

However, some members of the MMA made efforts to eliminate their rhetoric against Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, and Parsis. Under government pressure, many of its leaders joined various interfaith efforts to promote religious tolerance. Religious leaders, representing the country’s six major Shi’a and Sunni groups, issued a religious injunction in May 2005 banning sectarian violence and the killing of non-Muslims. While there was a decline in sectarian violence during the previous reporting period, this reporting period’s levels remained unchanged. Sectarian violence and discrimination continued despite contrary calls from the Government, Islamic religious leaders, and some parts of the MMA. Anti-Ahmadi and anti-Semitic rhetoric continued unabated, although rhetoric against Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan was largely abandoned. [Para # 8]

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has an area of 310,527 square miles, and its population was approximately 162 million. Official figures on religious demography–based on the most recent census, taken in 1998–showed that approximately 96 percent of the population or 148.8 million persons were Muslim, 2.02 percent or 2.44 million persons were Hindu, 1.69 percent or 2.09 million were Christian, and 0.35 percent or 539,000 were “other,” including Ahmadis. [Para # 10]

…… Ahmadis have been officially declared non-Muslim due to their belief that a prophet came after Prophet Muhammad to revive the religion. *** Ahmadis have boycotted the census since 1974, rendering official numbers inaccurate. They claimed at least 2 million adherents centered on their spiritual town of Chenab Nagar, Punjab (referred to as Rabwah by Ahmadis). [Para # 12]

Section II. Status of Religious Freedom

Legal/Policy Framework

The constitution establishes Islam as the state religion. It also states that adequate provisions shall be made for minorities to profess and practice their religions freely; however, in practice the Government imposes limits on freedom of religion, particularly on Ahmadis. [Para # 20]

Due to Ahmadis not accepting that Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet of Islam [***], a 1974 constitutional amendment declares this self-described Islamic community to be non-Muslim. In 1984, the Government added Section 298(c), commonly referred to as the “anti-Ahmadi laws”, to the penal code. The section prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims or posing as Muslims, referring to their faith as Islam, preaching or propagating their faith, inviting others to accept the Ahmadi faith, and insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. The constitutionality of Section 298(c) was upheld in a split-decision supreme court case in 1996. The punishment for violation of the section is imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. The Government has blocked similar movements to restrict both Zikris and Ismaili followers of the Aga Khan. Other religious communities were generally free to observe their religious obligations; however, religious minorities are, in some places, legally restricted from public display of certain religious images and, due to discriminatory legislation, are often afraid to profess their religion freely. [Para # 21]

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 the death penalty for defiling Islam or its prophets; life imprisonment for defiling, damaging, or desecrating the Qur’an; and ten years’ imprisonment for insulting another’s religious feelings. To end the filing of frivolous charges, the Government enacted a law in January 2005 that requires senior police officials to investigate any blasphemy charges before a complaint is filed. In addition, any speech or conduct that injures another’s religious feelings, including those of minority religious groups, is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment. However, in cases where the religious feelings of a minority religion were insulted, the blasphemy laws were rarely enforced and cases rarely brought to the legal system. [Para # 22]

Under the Anti-Terrorist Act, any action, including speech, intended to stir up religious hatred is punishable by up to seven years of rigorous imprisonment. Under the act, bail is not to be granted if the judge has reasonable grounds to believe that the accused is guilty; however, the law is applied selectively. [Para # 24]

Pressure from societal, religious, or political leaders routinely prevented courts from protecting minority rights. These same pressures forced justices to take strong action against any perceived offense to Sunni Islamic orthodoxy. Discrimination against religious minorities was rarely placed before the judiciary. Courts would be unlikely to act objectively in such cases. Resolving cases is very slow; there is generally a long period between filing the case and the first court appearance. Lower courts are frequently intimidated and therefore, delay decisions, and refuse bail for fear of reprisal from extremist elements. Bail in blasphemy cases is almost always denied by original trial courts on the logic that since defendants are facing the death penalty, they are likely to flee. Defendants can appeal the denial of bail (and many do), but bail is often times not granted by the high court or the supreme court in advance of the trial. [Para # 25]

The Government designates religion on passports and national identity documents. In November 2004 the Government began issuing new machine-readable passports without the religion column. A conservative backlash and Islamist party protests led the Government to reverse course and restore the column in March 2005. Those wishing to be listed as a Muslim on such documents had to swear a belief in the finality of the prophethood and denounce the Ahmadiyya movement’s founder as a false prophet and his followers as non-Muslims. [Para # 27]

The constitution provides for the “freedom to manage religious institutions.” In principle, the Government does not restrict organized religious groups from establishing places of worship and training members of the clergy. In practice, however, religious minorities suffered from restrictions on this right. [Para # 28]

The Government nationalized all church schools and colleges in Punjab and Sindh in 1972. The Government of Sindh oversaw a piecemeal denationalization program from 1985 to 1995, and the Government of Punjab began a similar program in 1996. In 2001 the federal Government and the courts ordered the provincial governments to move forward with a complete denationalization process. Teachers’ unions strongly objected, fearing for their job security, and have attempted to tie up denationalization in the court system. … [Para # 30]
Note: Educational Institutions belonging to Jamaat Ahmadiyya have not been returned and it appears that Government of Pakistan as well as Provincial Governments have no intention to return these institutions.

Sunni Muslims appeared to receive favorable consideration in government hiring and advancement. In addition, all those wishing to obtain government identification documents as Muslims had to declare an oath on belief in the finality of the prophethood, a provision designed to discriminate against Ahmadis. Initial voter registration no longer required such an oath, but the Election Commission claimed that any Muslim registrant whose religion was challenged by the public would have to take the oath. As a result, Ahmadis continued to boycott elections. [Para # 32]

The constitution specifically prohibits discriminatory admission to any governmental educational institution solely on the basis of religion. Government officials stated that the only factors affecting admission to governmental educational institutions were students’ grades and home provinces; however, students must declare their religion on application forms. Muslim students must declare in writing that they believe in the unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad, a measure designed to single out Ahmadis. Non-Muslims must have their religion verified by the head of their local religious community. [Para # 36]

The Government, at its most senior levels, continued to call for interfaith dialogue and sectarian harmony as part of its program to promote enlightened moderation. It was instrumental in organizing the inaugural meeting of the World Council of Religions, an interfaith body of clerics and religious scholars devoted to interfaith dialogue. Clergy from all Islamic schools of thought and minority faith communities, with the exception of the Ahmadis, who were not invited, joined the council. The Religious Affairs Ministry and the Council on Islamic Ideology, a constitutionally mandated government body, continued to sponsor interfaith and inter-sectarian workshops and meetings. The Religious Affairs Ministry played an active role in negotiating the inter-sectarian injunction against sectarian violence and the killing of non-Muslims in the country issued in May 2005. The primary responsibility of the Religious Affairs Ministry is to organize participation in the Hajj and other Muslim religious pilgrimages and to distribute the zakaat (the religious tax on Sunni Muslims). [Para # 41]

Restrictions on Religious Freedom

The Government discouraged and severely restricted public practice of the Ahmadiyya faith both by law and in practice. The 1974 constitutional amendment and 1984 changes to the Penal Code Section 298(c), commonly referred to as the “anti-Ahmadi laws”, were used by the Government and anti-Ahmadi religious groups to target and harass Ahmadis. The vague wording of the provision that forbids Ahmadis from “directly or indirectly” posing as Muslims enabled mainstream Muslim religious leaders to bring charges against Ahmadis for using the standard Muslim greeting form and for naming their children Muhammad. An Ahmadiyya Muslim community report claimed that during the period covered by this report, twenty-six Ahmadis faced criminal charges under religious laws or because of their faith: four under the blasphemy laws, seventeen under Ahmadi-specific laws, and four under other laws but motivated by their Ahmadi faith. At the end of April 2006, five Ahmadis were in prison on blasphemy charges and three were in prison on murder charges that the Ahmadiyya community claimed were falsely brought due to their religious beliefs. [Para # 42]

The Government gave tacit endorsement to Islamic clerics’ campaigns against the perceived dangers of the Ahmadiyya faith by permitting the annual conference on the finality of the prophethood. Ahmadis were prohibited from holding any public conferences or gatherings, and since 1983 they have been denied permission to hold their annual conference. Ahmadis were banned from preaching and were prohibited from traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj or other religious pilgrimages. Since July 2003, anyone wanting to travel on the Hajj must denounce the founder of the Ahmadiyya faith as a “cunning person and an imposter” on a printed oath that is part of the government registration process, thereby effectively preventing Ahmadis from fulfilling this tenant of the Islamic faith. Additionally, Ahmadi publications were banned from public sale; however, Ahmadis published religious literature in large quantities for a limited circulation. [Para # 43]

While the constitution guarantees the right to establish places of worship and train clergy, in practice, Ahmadis suffered from restrictions on this right. According to press reports, the authorities continued to conduct surveillance on the Ahmadis and their institutions. Several Ahmadi mosques reportedly have been closed; others reportedly have been desecrated or had their construction stopped. For example, on June 18, 2005, police ordered the Ahmadiyya community in Pindi, Bhatian, Hafizabad, Punjab to stop construction on a mosque on a site acquired for the purpose some twenty years previously. Police were reportedly acting on the request of the local Islamic cleric. [Para # 44]

There was no law against apostasy; however, societal pressure against conversion from Islam was so strong that any conversion almost certainly would take place in secret. [Para # 46]

There are no legal requirements for an individual to practice or affiliate nominally with a religion. The Government did not penalize or legally discriminate against those not affiliated with any religion. In practice, societal pressure was such that very few persons would admit to not belonging to a religious group since doing so would likely lead to significant discrimination. [Para # 47]

Religious belief or specific adherence to a religion was not required for membership in the ruling party or the moderate opposition parties, which did not exclude members of any religion. The MMA had non-Muslim members of parliament; however, in practice, each of its constituent parties generally restricted membership to its sectarian adherents. It would be virtually impossible for Ahmadis or Jews to join the MMA or its constituent parties. In practice, neither Ismailis nor Zikris could join the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazlur Rehman, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami ul-Haq, or JI. Shi’a claimed they were not welcome in JI, although JI leadership denied the assertion. The political arm of the sectarian extremist group Sunni Tehrik accepted only Brailvi members. [Para # 48]

Missionaries were allowed to operate in the country, and proselytizing, except by Ahmadis, was permitted as long as there is no preaching against Islam and the missionaries acknowledge that they are not Muslim; …. [Para # 50]

The constitution allows “reasonable” restrictions on freedom of speech for the “glory of Islam.” The penal code includes specific provisions that restrict speech and action against other religions. These “blasphemy laws”, as they are collectively known, were often used to harass and intimidate reform-minded Muslims, sectarian opponents, and religious minorities. They were also used to settle personal scores and business rivalries. While no accused persons have been executed under this law, the accused often spend years in prison. Blasphemy suspects were not routinely granted bail and were often convicted by trial courts following threats to judges by extremists. In contrast to previous reporting periods, there was no record of deaths by inmates or security forces within prison. At the end of the reporting period, twenty-two remained in detention awaiting trial on blasphemy charges, and nine were in prison following conviction. [Para # 51]

In 2005, the Government enacted a law that requires senior police officials to investigate any blasphemy charges before a complaint is filed. Human rights organizations had called for such changes since 2000. Initial indications on the law’s impact were positive. There were only twenty-four blasphemy cases filed during the reporting period, a decline from fifty-four during the previous years’ reporting period. According to figures compiled by local NGOs, between 1986 and April 2006, 695 persons were accused of blasphemy: 362 Muslims, 239 Ahmadis, 86 Christians, and 10 Hindus. In many cases filed during the year, the accused were either released on bail or charges were dropped. Of the 695 individuals accused of blasphemy at the end of the reporting period, 22 remained in detention awaiting trial on blasphemy charges, and 9 were in prison following conviction. [Para # 52]

The Government does not restrict religious publishing in general; however, Ahmadi religious literature is banned. Publishing any criticism of Islam or its prophets or insults to another’s religion is prohibited. Insults against minority religious groups were rarely prosecuted. For example, the weekly newspaper Ghazwa published in Azad Jammu Kashmir with the financial support of the terrorist organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not prosecuted for publishing offensive, insulting, and inaccurate articles about earthquake relief efforts undertaken by NGOs linked to the Ahmadiyya community. … Ahmadis charge that they suffer from restrictions on their press. For example, on August 7, 2005, the Punjab provincial government ordered two Ahmadi printing presses in Jhang, Punjab, shut down. Police took the editor of the Ahmaddiya community magazine al-Fazl, Sami Khan, into protective custody and later released him. The move followed complaints from a local Islamic leader that the publications insulted the religious sentiments of Muslims. The provincial home department ultimately gave permission for the presses to reopen. [Para # 53]

In July 2003, Tanvir Ahmed Asif and Abdul Qadir were charged with blasphemy, as well as violating the anti-Ahmadi law, for writing a book which explained the situation of Ahmadis around the country. In November 2004, the Peshawar High Court overturned the blasphemy conviction of former Frontier Post copy editor Munawar Mohsin. Mohsin had published a letter to the editor in 2001 that was critical of the Prophet Muhammad. There have been no new developments in this case. [Para # 54]

The Government designates religion on passports and national identity documents. Those wishing to be listed as a Muslim on such documents had to swear a belief in the finality of the Prophethood and denounce the Ahmadiyya movement’s founder as a false prophet and his followers as non-Muslims, resulting in further discrimination and harassment against the community. [Para # 59]

Sunni Muslims appeared to receive favorable consideration in government hiring and advancement. Religious minorities, including Shi’a, contended that the Government persistently discriminated against members of their communities in hiring for the civil service and in admissions to government institutions of higher learning. Promotions for all minority groups appeared limited within the civil service. These problems were particularly acute for Ahmadis, who contended that a “glass ceiling” prevented them from being promoted to senior positions and that certain government departments refused to hire or retain qualified Ahmadis. [Para # 62]

Ahmadis continued to contend that they were denied voting rights through requirements that they register as non-Muslims. Members of the public can challenge any Muslim on the voter rolls to take an oath swearing to the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad and denouncing the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement. For this reason, Ahmadis refused to register. There are reserved seats for religious minority members in both the national and provincial assemblies. Such seats are allocated to the political parties on a proportional basis determined by their overall representation in the assembly. [Para # 65]

Members of minority religious groups volunteered for military service in small numbers, and there were no official obstacles to their advancement; however, in practice non-Muslims rarely, if ever, rose above the rank of colonel and were not assigned to politically sensitive positions. A chaplaincy corps provided services for Muslim soldiers, but no similar services were available for religious minorities. [Para # 66]

… Many Ahmadis and Christians reported discrimination in applying to government educational institutions due to their religious affiliation. Christians and Ahmadis reportedly have been denied access to medical schools, and societal discrimination against Ahmadis persisted at many universities. [Para # 67]

All religious groups experienced bureaucratic delays and requests for bribes when attempting to build houses of worship or to obtain land. These were similar to what nonreligious groups faced. Ahmadis were prevented from building houses of worship. Sunni Muslim groups built mosques and shrines without government permission and at times in violation of zoning ordinances. [Para # 68]

Abuses of Religious Freedom

Police torture and mistreatment of those in custody remained a serious and common problem throughout the country and at times resulted in extrajudicial killings. It was usually impossible to ascertain whether religion was a factor in cases in which religious minorities were victims; however, both Christian and Ahmadi communities claimed their members were more likely to be abused. Prison conditions, except those for wealthy or influential prisoners, were extremely poor. Non-Muslim prisoners generally were accorded poorer facilities than Muslim inmates. There were no reports of police or inmates killing those accused of blasphemy in custody during the reporting period. [Para # 73]

Minority religious groups continued to complain of police inaction in cases of attacks by extremists against congregants and property belonging to minorities. [Para # 80]

The blasphemy laws were routinely used to harass religious minorities and reform-minded Muslims and to settle personal scores or business rivalries. Individuals were detained and convicted on spurious charges. Judges and magistrates, seeking to avoid a confrontation with or violence from extremists, often continued trials indefinitely. As a result, those accused of blasphemy often faced lengthy periods in jail and were burdened with increased legal costs and repeated court appearances, before acquittal, generally at the appellate level. At the end of the reporting period, twenty-two remained in detention awaiting trial on blasphemy charges, and nine were in prison following conviction. [Para # 83]

In October 2004, blasphemy charges were filed against Mohammad Ali, a Muslim and owner of a paper mill, for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an. Police dismissed the charges. [Para # 86]

In November 2004, Muhammad Iqbal, an Ahmadi, received a life sentence following his conviction on blasphemy charges for allegedly referring to Prophet Muhammad as a false prophet. His appeal was pending at the end of the period covered by this report. [Para # 87]

In December 2004, blasphemy charges were filed against Shahdat Ali, an Ahmadi, and his two alleged accomplices for allegedly setting fire to the Qur’an. Police dismissed the charges without trial. [Para # 88]
Note: Police did not drop charges in this case. Session Court acquitted two Ahmadis and sentenced Mr. Mansur Ahmad to imprisonment for life. He is still in prison. His appeal to the Lahore High Court registered as Criminal Appeal No. 1885/2005 is awaiting a hearing.

In addition to experiencing prosecution under the blasphemy laws, Ahmadis were often charged, detained, and convicted under the so-called anti-Ahmadi laws. According to Ahmadiyya publications, police charged seventeen Ahmadis under these laws during the year. All were released by the end of the reporting period. Ahmadi leaders also claimed that the Government used regular sections of the penal code against their members for religious reasons. They claimed three Ahmadis were in detention on such charges at the end of the reporting period. The three had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Their cases were under appeal at the end of the period covered by this report. [Para # 96]

In July 2004, a Muslim mob attacked Ghulam Ahmad Tahir, an Ahmadi youth, following an anti-Ahmadi conference. Tahir was charged with assault and was later released. In August 2004, Muhammad Ehsan, a mentally ill Ahmadi, was charged with possession of Ahmadi literature and climbing the roof of a mosque. Ehsan was later released. In November 2004, Zulfiqar Goraya, an Ahmadi, was charged under the anti-Ahmadi law for posing as a Muslim by distributing wedding cards containing a common Islamic greeting printed on them. Goraya was also released. [Para # 97]

On September 9, 2005, a local rickshaw driver in Faisalabad, Punjab, parked his vehicle in front of the home of the head of the local Ahmadiyya community. The vehicle was painted with insulting, anti-Ahmadi slogans. The two sons of the local community head confronted the rickshaw driver and told him to move his vehicle. The rickshaw driver physically attacked the two Ahmadis. Police intervened and charged the driver and the two Ahmadis with assault. Charges were pending at the end of the reporting period, but the Ahmadis were released on bail. [Para # 98]

On October 12, 2005, in Mianwali, Punjab, police and postal officials jointly charged Irfan Ahmad, an Ahmadi subscriber to the community magazine Khalid, with receiving a banned publication. The community magazine is not, in fact, banned, although certain editions have been. Ahmad was released on bail pending trial. [Para # 99]

According to media reports and local Ahmadi leaders, on June 23, 2006, in Mirpur Khas, Sindh, at the instigation of two mullahs, police registered a criminal case against five Ahmadis following a complaint by an individual that the accused had tried to convert him. Two of the accused, Maula Bakhsh and Muhammad Akbar, who were fresh converts, were arrested by police. The other three went into hiding and applied for bail before arrest. At a court hearing, Baksh and Akbar admitted that they had converted but denied that they had tried to convert the complainant, claiming that they had merely defended their own beliefs in a conversation on religious matters. The magistrate rejected the request for bail by Baksh and Akbar, an action local Ahmadis attributed to immense social pressure generated by the case; this decision was under review by the district court at the end of the period covered by this report. The other three accused applied for bail in the higher sessions court, which granted the plea. A hearing on their case was scheduled for September 5, 2006. [Para # 100]

According to media reports, on June 24, 2006, a mob attacked an Ahmadi locality in Jhando Sahi Village in Daska near Sialkot and injured two persons following allegations that some Ahmadis had desecrated the Qur’an. The mob also set fire to a few vehicles, two shops, and a few houses belonging to Ahmadis. The district police arrived at the scene and arrested seven Ahmadis. They also removed approximately seventy-five Ahmadis from the village for fear of more attacks. Four Ahmadis were booked under section 295 C of the penal code for Qur’an desecration, and two were arrested and held in the Sialkot District jail. Later, hundreds of persons belonging to surrounding villages demonstrated against the alleged desecration and chanted anti-Ahmadi slogans and damaged an Ahmadiyya house of worship. The situation in the village remained tense and a large contingent of police was deployed to avert any more damage. Members of the Ahmadi community claim that the men were burning their own journals and papers. [Para # 101]

The Government did not abuse converts to minority religious groups. Converts to the Ahmadiyya community were often accused of blasphemy, violations of the anti-Ahmadi laws, or other crimes. The Government arrested and prosecuted such individuals. Conversion to other minority religious groups generally took place in secret to avoid a societal backlash. [Para # 103]

Minority communities charged the Government was complicit in seizures of their property by Muslims and that the government policy of dismantling illegal slum settlements disproportionately targeted minority communities. These groups also accused the Government of inaction in cases of attacks by extremist groups on places of worship belonging to minority groups. [Para # 105]

Following July 2004 protests, police in Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) continued to retain property of the local Ahmaddiya community on which a makeshift mosque had once existed. [Para # 107]

Persecution by Terrorist Organizations

On October 7, 2005, two armed assailants opened fire during Friday [Fajr (early morning)] prayer at an Ahmadiyya mosque in Mong village, Punjab, killing eight and injuring nineteen. The Government attributed responsibility to LJ. [Para # 131]

Section III. Societal Attitudes

Relations between the country’s religious communities remained tense. Violence against religious minorities and between Muslim sects continued. Most believed that a small minority were responsible for attacks; however, discriminatory legislation and the teaching of religious intolerance in public schools created a permissive environment for attacks. Police at times refused to prevent violence and harassment or refused to charge persons who commit such offenses. [Para # 146]

Mobs occasionally attacked individuals accused of blasphemy, their family, or their religious community prior to their arrest. When blasphemy and other religious cases were brought to court, extremists often packed the courtroom and made public threats against an acquittal. Judges and magistrates, seeking to avoid a confrontation with or violence from extremists, often continued trials indefinitely. As a result, those accused of blasphemy often faced lengthy periods in jail and were burdened with increased legal costs and repeated court appearances. Religious extremists continued to threaten to kill all those acquitted of blasphemy charges. High-profile accused persons often went into hiding or emigrated after acquittal. [Para # 147]

Ahmadi individuals and institutions long have been victims of religious violence, much of which is instigated by organized religious extremists. Ahmadi leaders charged that militant Sunni mullahs and their followers sometimes staged marches through the streets of Rabwah, a predominantly Ahmadi town and spiritual center in central Punjab. Backed by crowds of between 100 and 200 persons, the mullahs reportedly denounced Ahmadis and their founder, a situation that sometimes led to violence. The Ahmadis claimed that police generally were present during these marches but did not intervene to prevent violence. [Para # 148]

In July 2004, unknown assailants attempted to shoot Shahid Ahmad Dar, an Ahmadi, in Lahore. No arrests were made. [Para # 149]

In August 2004, following a mob attack, police issued a ban on the construction of a new house of worship for the Ahmadiyya community in Tatlay Aali, Gujranwala. The ban continued during the reporting period. [Para # 150]

In August 2004, unknown assailants killed Barkatullah Mangla, an Ahmadi lawyer and president of the Sargodha Ahmadiyya community. Police did not arrest suspects. [Para # 151]

In November 2004, Muhammad Ishaq Danish was killed after he became a member of the Ahmadiyya community. Police did not file charges. [Para # 152]

In December 2004 a mob attacked the construction site of an Ahmaddiya house of worship in Sahiwal. Police did not file charges. [Para # 153]

On September 10, 2005, in Quetta, Balochistan, unknown assailants shot and killed Wasim Ahmad, an Ahmadi, en route to his business. Witnesses claimed that one of the assailants appeared to be a member of a conservative religious organization based on his dress and conduct. Prior to his killing, Ahmad had received threats from various extremist organizations demanding that he convert to Islam. [Para # 154]

On February 12, 2006, local Islamic clerics from Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab, held a procession against cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper. As the protesters came to an electronics shop owned by two Ahmadi brothers, Shakil Ahmad and Tariq Mahmud, clerics pointed out the shop’s ownership by Ahmadis and led a group of protestors in attacking the store, damaging glass and inventory. Police, who were present, did not intervene to stop the protestors. [Para # 155]

On March 16, 2006, a local Islamic cleric in Chanda Singh Wala, Kasur, Punjab, demanded that police disinter the remains of the daughter of Muhammad Hanif, a member of the local Ahmadiyya community, from the community’s Muslim graveyard. Although police initially refused the request, they ultimately complied after further pressure, disinterred the remains, and handed them over to the local Ahmadiyya community for reburial in the separate Ahmadi cemetery. [Para # 156]

On March 19, 2006, two unidentified armed men attacked and killed a prominent member of the Ahmadiyya community in Manzoor Colony, Karachi, Sheikh Rafiq Ahmad, at his store. Community leaders believed that the killing was motivated solely by Ahmad’s religion. [Para # 157]

On April 10 and 11, 2006, the Government permitted the anti-Ahmadi organization Majlis Ahrar Islam to organize a conference in the Ahmadi spiritual center of Rabwah, Punjab. Islamic clerics addressing the conference repeatedly stated that Ahmadis were traitors to Islam and rebels against the country and its constitution. Shari’a law deemed all Ahmadis apostates, and they should therefore be killed. Following the conclusion of the conference, several anti-Ahmadi participating organizations marched through the streets of Rabwah demanding death to Ahmadis. [Para # 158]

Ahmadis suffered from societal harassment and discrimination. Even the rumor that someone might be an Ahmadi or had Ahmadi relatives could stifle opportunities for employment or promotion. Most Ahmadis were home-schooled or went to private, Ahmadi-run schools. Ahmadi students in public schools often were subject to abuse by their non-Ahmadi classmates. The quality of teachers assigned to predominately Ahmadi schools by the Government reportedly was poor. In 2002, in response to a question from Islamic clerics, President Pervez Musharraf, who had been accused of favoring Ahmadis, declared that he believed Ahmadis to be “non-Muslims.” [Para # 159]

Some Sunni Muslim groups published literature calling for violence against Ahmadis, Shi’a Muslims, other Sunni sects, and Hindus. Some newspapers frequently published articles that contained derogatory references to religious minorities, especially Ahmadis, Hindus, and Jews. Sermons at mosques frequently railed against Ahmadis, other Muslim groups, and Hindus. [Para # 181]

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy

The embassy carefully monitored treatment of the Ahmadiyya community. During discussions with Islamic religious leaders, embassy officials urged reconciliation with the Ahmadiyya community and an end to persecution of this minority group. Embassy officials also raised and discussed treatment of the Ahmadis with members of parliament, encouraging an eventual repeal of anti-Ahmadi laws and a less severe application in the interim. [Para # 189]

Embassy officials regularly met with religious and political leaders from all major Islamic groups. During these meetings, they raised the need to end sectarian violence and to define a more cooperative relationship between the sects. Embassy officials encouraged interfaith and intersectarian dialogue initiatives, such as the World Council of Religions. In meetings with officials from the Islamic Ideology Council and the Ministry of Religion, embassy officials encouraged them to play an active role in promoting sectarian harmony. [Para # 190]

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