End of Prophethood conference in the UK
The ultra-right wing daily Islam, Lahore published a lengthy report in its issue of September 11, 2014, titled: Britain – Annual Khatme Nabuwwat conference… thousands participated.
It reported that the conference was held on September 7, 2014 in the central mosque in Birmingham. Leading ulama and religious scholars from Pakistan and other countries participated. Two sessions were held in which the audience numbered ‘thousands’ (sic). [We are unable to confirm this claim as these people are prone to exaggeration.]
The speakers who addressed the conference said many things. Among these they said the following as well, according to this report published in the daily Islam:
- Maulana Aziz Ahmad (Pakistan) said: (By your participation) you people have proven that Muslims can tolerate a lot but cannot tolerate the minutest slight against the Holy Prophet, and that you are ever ready to sacrifice yourself in the way of his honor.
- Maulana Abdul RazzaqIskandar (from Karachi) said: Today, human society has reached the end in intellectual disorder and mental anarchy is widespread in the West, Europe, Britain and among peoples following the western ways.
- Hafiz Ahmad Hussain (JUI in Pakistan) asserted that the constitutional amendment (No. II) should be accepted by Qadianis and the European countries. They talk of doing away with this amendment; we shall never allow these efforts to succeed.
- Khalid Mehmud (from Pakistan) said: People are talking of a change and revolution these days; we’ll have to keep a watch lest our constitution is affected in the process and the Amendment (regarding Ahmadis) is annulled.
- Mufti Khalid Mahmood said: It is regrettable that the Deniers of the End of Prophethood have not accepted the Amendment and continue to act traitors against the Constitution, the country and the nation.
- Maulana Abdul Ghafur Haidari (JUI minister in the federation) praised “the few ulama in the National Assembly who have formed a formidable barrier against any change in Islamic provisions in the Constitution. They resist the efforts to undo its Islamic provisions and Islamic identity by mutilating it.” etc. etc.
In addition to the mullas mentioned above following were also mentioned by the daily in its report as those who addressed the audience:
Fazlur Rahim Ashrafi (Lahore); Mahmud ul Hassan (UK); Farooq Sultan (Denmark); Suhail Ahmad (Croydon); Negeen Ahmad (London); Abdul Hadi Al-Umar (i) of Jamiat Ahle Hadith; FarooqAlavi (JI, in UK); Muhammad Ahmad (Germany); Ghulam Rabbani Afghani (Jamaat Ahle Sunnat); Saeed Ahmad; Najeeb Ahmad; Muhammad Ayub; Khalil ur Rehman Gordashti; AmdadullahQasimi; Ashraf Ali; Ibrahim; Abu Bakr; Usman; Abdul Rahim; Abdul Rashid Rabbani; Muhammad Aslam. Almost all are of Pakistan origin.
UN rights experts call on Pakistan to ensure the security of the Ahmadiyya … community
The following news was recently posted on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights website at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14658&LangID=E
“Stop faith-based killings” – UN rights experts urge Pakistan to protect Ahmadiyya Muslim minorities
GENEVA (2 June 2014) – Three United Nations experts on freedom of religion, minority issues, and summary executions today called on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures to stop faith-based killings and ensure the security of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, whose faith is outlawed in the country.
The human rights experts’ call comes after renewed violent attacks against Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, in which two members of the community have been killed, as well as a number of arrests on blasphemy charges. These attacks are believed to be related to their choice and peaceful practice of religious beliefs.
“I am very concerned by the recent surge of violent attacks against Ahmadiyya Muslims by militant extremists. Such violence is fueled by existing blasphemy legislation in Pakistan particularly targeting minorities,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, HeinerBielefeldt, said. “I urge Pakistan to guarantee the right to freedom of religion or belief of members of minority religious communities.”
“Pakistan must urgently put in place protective measures to ensure the personal security of Ahmadiyya Muslims, as well as any other religious minorities living in the country, under threat of hostility and violence by militant extremists,” the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, stressed. “The full range of rights of religious minorities must be guaranteed in law and in practice.”
“In addition to robust protective measures, the authorities in Pakistan need to undertake urgent and firm steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of those killings,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, ChristofHeyns. “Showing determination in ensuring accountability in such cases must be a key element of the Government’s efforts to reduce the attacks and guarantee the safety of not only the Ahmadiyya Muslims, but other vulnerable groups.”
On 13 May 2014, four Ahmadiyya Muslims were arrested by police on blasphemy charges in Sharaqpur, Pakistan. While three were released on bail, Khalil Ahmad was kept in detention, where he was shot dead by a visiting fifteen year-old teenager, who brought a gun, concealed in his lunch box, into the station.
On 26 May 2014, Mehdi Ali Qamar, a US citizen and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a doctor on a humanitarian mission to Pakistan, was murdered in Rabwah, Pakistan. He was killed by two unknown men on motorbikes, while taking an opportunity to visit the graves of his relatives at a local cemetery.
Seven members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community were reportedly killed in 2013.
Ahmadiyya … Caucus in the U.S. Congress
Washington, February 28, 2014: AFP reported that US lawmakers on Friday announced a caucus to fight for the rights of the Ahmadi minority, which has faced attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world.
Republican Representative Frank Wolf, the co-chair with Democrat Jackie Speier said, “Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus would press for the rights of Ahmadis in trouble in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.”
President Obama speaks at the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast
Washington, D.C.: What President Obama said at this occasion on February 06, 2014 is worth placing on record. Extracts:
Yet even as our faith sustains us, it’s also clear that around the world freedom of religion is under threat. And that is what I want to reflect on this morning. We see governments engaging in discrimination and violence against the faithful. We sometimes see religion twisted in an attempt to justify hatred and persecution against other people just because of who they are, or how they pray or who they love. Old tensions are stoked, fueling conflicts along religious lines, as we’ve seen in the Central African Republic recently, even though to harm anyone in the name of faith is to diminish our own relationship with God. Extremists succumb to an ignorant nihilism that shows they don’t understand the faiths they claim to profess … for the killing of the innocent is never fulfilling God’s will; in fact, it’s the ultimate betrayal of God’s will.
Today, we profess the principles we know to be true. We believe that each of us is ‘wonderfully made’ in the image of God. We, therefore, believe in the inherent dignity of every human being—dignity that no earthly power can take away. And central to that dignity is freedom of religion, the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.
Our faith teaches us that in the face of suffering, we can’t stand idly by and that we must be that Good Samaritan. In Isaiah, we’re told “to do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” The Torah commands: “Know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” The Koran instructs: “Stand out firmly for justice.” So history shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people – including the freedom of religion – are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful. Nations that do not uphold these rights sow the bitter seeds of instability and violence and extremism. So freedom of religion matters to our national security. (Applause)
As I’ve said before, there are times when we work with governments that don’t always meet our highest standards, but they’re working with us on core interests such as the security of the American people. At the same time, we also deeply believe that it’s in our interest, even with our partners, sometimes with our friends, to stand up for universal human rights. So promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy. And I’m proud that no nation on earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America. (Applause)
…More broadly, I’ve made the case that no society can truly succeed unless it guarantees the rights of all its peoples, including religious minorities, whether they are Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan or Bahais in Iran, or Coptic Christians in Egypt. And in Syria it means ensuring a place for all peoples – Alawites and Sunni, Shia and Christian.
In those moments of peace, of grace, those moments when their faith is tested in ways that those of us who are more comfortable never experience; in those far-away cells, I believe their unbroken souls are made stronger. And I hope that somehow they hear our prayers for them, that they know that, along with the spirit of God, they have our spirit with them as well, and that they are not alone.
Today we give humble thanks for the freedoms we cherish in this country. And I join you in seeking God’s grace in all of our lives. I pray that His wisdom will give us the capacity to do right and to seek justice, and defend the oppressed wherever they may dwell.
I want to thank all of you for the extraordinary privilege of being here this morning. I want to ask you for your prayers as I continue in this awesome privilege and responsibility as President of the United States. May God bless the United States of America, and God bless all those who seek peace and justice. Thank you very much. (Applause)
USCIRF 2014 Annual Report – Pakistan
Washington D.C. USCIRF released its 2014 Annual Report in April, in which it reports ‘Shrinking Religious Freedom in South Asia’. Its Chapter Summary on Pakistan is reproduced below:
USCIRF 2014 Annual Report:
New Twist on USCIRF Annual Report on the World’s Worst Religious Freedom Abusers:
Chapter Summary: Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated by the U.S. government as “countries of particular concern.” In the past year, conditions hit an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shi‘a Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus. The previous and current governments failed to provide adequate protection or to arrest perpetrators. Also, Pakistan’s repressive blasphemy laws and anti-Ahmadi laws are widely used to violate religious freedoms and foster a climate of impunity. USCIRF again recommends in 2014 that Pakistan be designated as a “country of particular concern” (CPC). Since 2002, USCIRF has recommended Pakistan be named a CPC.
In Luton Town (UK)
Lahore; April 2014: The Friday Times, Lahore of April 18-24, 2014 published a full page report with colour pictures, titled: In Luton Town. It is written by ZeniaMarufi. ‘Why did an ad in a local British paper create such a furor?’ she looks into the reasons.
It is a readable, independent and interesting report on an incident when ‘Ahmadi Muslims carried out a campaign to tackle Islamophobia in London.’
9 countries where genocide is most likely to happen
GlobalPost: This news site claims to focus on original reporting from journalists stationed around the world…. And offers fresh perspective on global developments.
On Monday, May 12, 2014 it posted a report under the above title written by Sarah Walfe, as this year marks the 20th anniversary to the genocide in Rwanda. It named 9 countries; Pakistan is one of them.
Persecution of the persecuted in Sri Lanka
Government of Pakistan disowns Pak Ahmadi refugees arrested by Sri Lankan authorities
News Release – by UNHCR, office of the High Commission
Sri Lanka and Pakistan and Geneva (Switzerland); June 2014 onward:The daily Dawn published the following report on June 22, 2014 without naming Ahmadis as the victims:
“FO disowns refugees ‘detained’ in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan newspaper says those arrested might have been involved in anti-state activities in India, Pakistan
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has distanced itself from the reported arrests of registered Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, but aid workers from the island nation have confirmed that Pakistani refugees are being rounded up by the authorities.
Sri Lankan daily Ceylon Today reported last week that nearly 1,500 (sic) Pakistanis, many of whom are registered with the United Nations refugees agency, UNHCR have been picked up by the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and the Criminal Investigation Department. According to the newspaper, these people were to be deported because of their alleged involvement in ‘anti-state activities’ in India and Pakistan.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was unsympathetic to the plight of the detained refugees in Sri Lanka, saying “These people (asylum seekers) obtained asylum in Sri Lanka by badmouthing Pakistan. If they are in trouble, I have no idea,”
“I do not know of any operation being conducted by Sri Lankan authorities against Pakistani refugees,” she added.
However a UNHCR official in Sri Lanka, Dushanthi Fernando told Dawn: “Some 140 persons were reported to be detained at the Mirthana and Boossa detention centres. UNHCR is intervening and seeking clarification from the authorities on the reasons behind these arrests,” she said.
“As of June 9, UNHCR has been receiving reports that a number of Pakistani asylum seekers and a few recognized refugees have been arrested,” she said, adding that UNHCR had not been informed of any possible deportations.
“We continuously emphasize the importance and need for respect and observance of the principle of non-refoulement, which is a cornerstone of international refugee protection and a principle of customary international law,” Ms. Fernando said.
She said UNHCR would continue to raise the issue with the relevant authorities.
The Sri Lankan newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, had reported that, “(an) operation was launched after intelligence sources revealed that some of the Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka are involved with insurgent groups in India and Pakistan”.
The report went on to say that asylum seekers in the city of Negombo are lying under a cloud of fear following the arrests.
Duniya Khan, a UNHCR official in Pakistan, told Dawn that under the law, asylum seekers and refugees could not be harassed by any authority. “Law enforcement agencies of any country can only interrogate suspects on the basis of concrete evidence,” she said.
Ahmer Bilal Soofi, who is an expert on international law, told Dawn, “Under International law, asylum seekers have a certain degree of protection, which means they cannot be expatriated. However refugees under the cover of asylum cannot indulge in criminal activities.”
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is the authority that deals with the extradition of wanted individuals detained abroad. However, officials Dawn spoke to indicated that the action against refugees in Sri Lanka may not have been requested by Pakistani authorities at all.
Explaining the process whereby authorities reach out to law enforcement agencies from other countries, FIA Director InamGhani said, “For the extradition of a wanted person, FIA obtains perpetual warrants of the accused from a court of law, and initiates a case for extradition with the country in question, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He said that extradition requests usually pertain to specific individuals and the arrest of large number of people are almost never requested.”
Following is noteworthy:
The FO spokesperson said, “These people (asylum seekers) obtain asylum in Sri Lanka by badmouthing Pakistan. If they are in trouble I have no idea.” Disowning them amounts to a confession of their maltreatment by the Government of Pakistan (GOP). According to press reports this very Foreign Office of GOP allocated $ 2 million for the legal defense of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui during her trial in the US, where she was later convicted of terrorist activities and sentenced to long-term imprisonment.
The Sri Lankan newspaper says those arrested have been involved in anti-state activities in India, Pakistan. This betrays that Sri Lankan authorities could be acting in league with the governments of India and Pakistan. Even if correct, Ahmadi refugees cannot be rubbished because a few non-Ahmadis are accused of anti-state activities. Also, if 85 percent of the detained Pakistanis are Ahmadis, it means targeted tyranny. Ahmadis, of course, have never co-operated with insurgent groups – anywhere.
An Ahmadiyya source reported on June 17, 2014, “There are now approximately 120 Ahmadis in the Detention Centre and the onslaught of the authorities continues to escalate by the day. Our brothers are facing unimaginable hardship and a number of them have serious medical problems.”
The Secretary International Human Rights Committee (IHRC) issued the following statement (Text) in mid-July on the situation of Pakistani Ahmadis in Sri Lanka who had gone there to seek asylum through UNHCR, but were arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities:
Text: The world community is well aware of the horrifying atrocities afflicted upon Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan by militant Islamic extremists and fundamentalists, sanctioned and supported by the state laws in Pakistan. Over the past 40 years thousands of Ahmadi Muslims have been prosecuted for proclaiming their faith and practicing the teaching of their religion Islam. Over 4000 Ahmadis have been out in prison and hundreds have been murdered, and these brutish acts of aggression continue in Pakistan to this day. Over the past couple of years the situation has become unbearable, and those who can try to flee this horrendous situation and seek peace and safety elsewhere in the world. A number of them moved to Sri Lanka to seek asylum through UNHCR so that they could eventually be resettled somewhere in the world where they could lead a normal life. The Ahmadis have a worldwide reputation to be peaceful and never engage in any peace disturbing or opponent action against the country or nation of their abode. They are strictly disciplined to be faithful and loyal to the government of the day. While their papers are being processed by UNHCR they are provided a covering letter by the UNHCR to enable them to stay in the country until their cases are determined.
It is extremely disturbing that the government of Sri Lanka has decided not to honour the covering letter for extended stay issued by the UNHCR, and last month they started raiding the houses of Ahmadi Muslims from Pakistan and arrested over 120 Ahmadi men leaving behind their wives and children in a despicable state without anyone to care or, look after them. These Ahmadis are now in a detention camp where the living conditions are horrible and especially during this holy month when Muslims are obliged to fast and observe their worship obligations, these Ahmadi Muslims have hardly any facility to fulfill their religious obligations.
The food provided to them is not of their taste and is meager in quantity. A number of them have been sick and some fainted because of heat and living conditions in the camp. It is reported that some of them were taken to hospital in chains and brought back in chains and continue to suffer inhumanly.
We once again earnestly plead to the world community to press upon the government of Sri Lanka to honour their obligations towards those who are under international protection and not persecute those who have already suffered painfully the persecution in Pakistan.
Thereafter arrived the report of UN concern:
Sri Lanka: UN experts alarmed at deportations of Pakistani asylum seekers without assessment
GENEVA (14 August 2014) – Two United Nations human rights experts today expressed their grave concern at the situation of Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka who are being detained and forcefully deported to Pakistan without an adequate assessment of their asylum claims.
“States must guarantee that every single asylum claim is individually assessed with due process and in line with international law,” stressed the UN Special Rapporteurs on minority issues, Rita Izsák, and on freedom of religion and belief, HeinerBielefeldt.
At least 108 Pakistani citizens have been deported since the beginning of August, according to the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR).
“Most asylum seekers from Pakistan belong to religious minorities, including Ahmadiyya Muslim, Christian and Shia, groups that are often subjected to persecution, discrimination and violence in Pakistan,” Ms. Izsák said. “Many of them are being deported despite being registered with UNHCR and having their first instance interviews still pending.”
Violent attacks against religious minorities have increased significantly in recent years, according to Pakistani sources. Last year, 687 persons belonging to religious minorities were reportedly killed in over 200 separate attacks.
“Such violence is fueled by existing blasphemy legislation particularly targeting minorities and lack of protective measures for them in Pakistan,” Mr. Bielefeldt said.
“The personal security and safety of Ahmadiyya Muslims, Christians and Shias who are being returned to Pakistan from Sri Lanka is a matter of serious concern, due to the large number of cases of violent attacks and threats against members of those religious communities by militant extremists in Pakistan,” he highlighted.
The UN human rights experts called on the Government of Sri Lanka to comply with the principle of non-refoulement (no-forced-returns) when there is a credible potential threat against an individual and to stop the deportations immediately in order to allow the completion of the entire asylum claim process.
“The risks faced by the deportees should never be underestimated but must be adequately assessed” stressed the Special Rapporteurs. “It is our hope that the Government of Sri Lanka will collaborate with the UN Refugees Agency in its work to guarantee the rights of asylum seekers, and avoid any actions that could lead to possible tragic consequences.”
Ahmadis had gone to Sri Lanka in very difficult circumstances. One sample case should suffice here. Mr. Awais Ahmad and his wife Muzaffarah moved to Sri Lanka in search of asylum a while ago, to escape severe persecution in Pakistan. Mr. Ahmad was arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities. In the recent anti-Ahmadi riot in Gujranwala, on July 27, 2014 the mother of Ms. Muzaffarah, Ms. Bushra, and her two minor nieces were locked inside a room in their home by a violent crowd and an intensive fire was lit to kill the trapped victims. The three innocent detainees died on account of asphyxiation, heat and shock. The other inmates were seriously injured. The entire Ahmadi population of this neighborhood had to flee for safety. Half of the Ahmadi homes and four of their businesses were gutted. But the Sri Lankan authorities still sent the Ahmad family back to Pakistan on some excuse which is best not mentioned!
The deportation of Ahmadis from there to Pakistan got under way despite the advice of the UNHCR and some renowned human rights organizations to the contrary.
In all, 288 Ahmadis were forcibly sent back to Pakistan.
Immediate Release of USCIRF
Washington: The United State Commission on International Religious Freedom issued on June 9, 2014 as Immediate Release an op-ed that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer the same day. The op-ed is titled: Pakistan’s War on Conscience. Its text is reproduced below.
The Philadelphia Inquirer — Pakistan’s war on conscience
The following op-ed appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 8, 2014.
The sentencing to death last month of a Sudanese woman, MeriamYahia Ibrahim Ishag, by a court in Khartoum for apostasy garnered international attention. It is almost unthinkable that a court would hand down such a decision in the 21st century.
Sadly, this is not as unusual as some would think: Death sentences on issues relating to religious freedom are a common occurrence in Pakistan, yet most of the world barely notices. Given its longtime relations with Pakistan, the U.S. government should take key steps today to improve the situation.
In 2014, Pakistani courts already have sentenced four people to death for violating Pakistan’s blasphemy law, and another has received a life sentence. They join at least 13 others on death row and 19 serving life sentences. Last month, a major television station was charged with blasphemy, and authorities also charged 68 lawyers with blasphemy after they protested police abuse. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which we recently joined, has found that Pakistan has jailed more people for this “crime” than any other country.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law also emboldens militants, who commit violence against perceived transgressors. Note the killing just last month of an Ahmadi American, Mehdi Ali Qamar, who was gunned down in front of his wife and small child while visiting Pakistan for volunteer medical relief work. Recall the fate in early May of Rashid Rehman, a member of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission. A brave and well-respected legal expert, Rehman was defending a high-profile blasphemy case. It cost him his life.
Such actions confirm the finding of our 2014 Annual Report that religious freedom conditions in Pakistan have reached new lows, with religious minorities suffering accordingly.
Besides its blasphemy law, the government imposes what amounts to an apartheid-like system on Ahmadis through both its constitution and criminal law that penalizes basic acts of their faith. The government also tolerates violence by mobs and extremists whom it fails to bring to justice. Hundreds of minority Shi’a Muslims have been killed at the hands of militants who attack their processions, pilgrimage routes, and gathering places. The vulnerable Christian community has endured vigilante and terrorist attacks, such as the horrific September 2013 assault on the All Saints Church in Peshawar. Ahmadis regularly are killed in drive-by shootings. Hindus continue to flee the country due to violence and forced conversions, with the recent attack on a Hindu shrine a further example of that community’s continuing vulnerability.
What can be done?
Pakistan is complicated, and U.S.-Pakistan relations are fragile. Yet the United States has worked closely with the Pakistani military throughout the country’s history. It is time for a similarly steadfast engagement on freedom of religion and conscience. It is time to help Pakistan combat a growing climate of impunity and lawlessness that undermines the security of all citizens so Pakistanis, regardless of their beliefs and religious affiliations, can live without fear.
For starters, USCIRF recommends that the State Department designate Pakistan a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for systematic, egregious, and ongoing violations of religious freedom or belief under the International Religious Freedom Act. The State Department’s own reports highlight the fact that Pakistan’s repressive laws violate religious freedom. Pakistan currently represents the world’s worst religious-freedom conditions among nondesignated countries. Naming Pakistan a CPC is long overdue; the case for designation is overwhelming.
At the same time, USCIRF also recommends comprehensively engaging Pakistan to encourage reform. The United States must urge Pakistani government ministries to address religious-minority concerns, including textbook reform, and prioritize much-needed legal reform and the prosecution of those who perpetrate violence. Combined with a CPC designation, these constructive measures would have a greater impact.
After one year in office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken steps to promote interfaith harmony and denounce attacks. But such steps are dwarfed by the government’s relentless enforcement of the blasphemy law and its failure to respond effectively to violence against the vulnerable. By designating Pakistan a CPC, the United States would bear witness to the plight of Pakistan’s persecuted religious minorities and shine a spotlight on these terrible abuses.
The United States must do more to persuade Pakistan’s government to address the escalating war on religious freedom. A CPC designation is the place to begin.