Forbidden faith

Published on 4 November, 2012

Two years ago on May 28, eighty-six members of the Ahmadiyya community were massacred in their places of worship in Lahore, during the Friday congregation. Since then, an all-out war seems to have been declared against them with the oppressors becoming more vitriolic and aggressive.

“Since the extremists apply their rule of death for apostasy, Ahmadis are the first to be targeted. Their persecution will increase by wider margins, if the extremists grow stronger,” warns rights activist I.A. Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US cannot agree more. She calls the persecution of this community “unconscionable”.

“Violence and the advance of bigotry, prejudice and hate against minorities have never really been met with the resolve needed to remove impunity from the social equation in Pakistan; instead, what we see is an expansion in the space for religious and sectarian apartheids, which has led now to heinous acts of brutality, exclusion and ‘otherisation’ of many, particularly Ahmadis,” she declares, adding, “This is a dangerous trend that conflates national identity with religion.”

Whether it is the belligerent stance of extremists against the community, which unfortunately remains under government radar, or other reasons, Pakistan today is burdened with religious prejudice due to certain religious clauses in its constitution. Since the beginning of the year, 13 Ahmadis have been killed and there have been three major attacks on their places of worship. In all these attacks in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Khushab and Kharian, the police have been involved. “In Kharian, an armed contingent of police began demolition of the minarets after dark without a court order to support their sacrilegious act,” states the Ahmadiyya spokesperson.

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