As the Muslim festival of Eid ul Adha drew to a close last week, it left a bad taste in the mouth of several Pakistanis when they heard that those belonging to the Ahmadi community were stopped from performing the ritual of animal sacrifice because they are “non-Muslims”.
According to a news report by Express Tribune, police raided a house of an Ahmadi man in Lahore, Punjab, and took him into custody. Police released him only after Ahmadi community elders intervened, giving written assurances that the man will not perform a sacrifice.
“We have slid towards the deep,” said rights activist and filmmaker Feryal Gauhar, quoting Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, blaming the government for not taking action.
“The spiral is rapidly spinning out of control. We are reduced to being passive bystanders to the tragedy that is being played out by forces of obscurantism,” she said.
“I think it’s deplorable and yet another instance of official persecution of the Ahmadis,” said Zohra Yusuf. But she said it was unclear under which law the police took action. “This indicates that intolerance has seeped into the police force, particularly in the Punjab,” she said.
The spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya Jammat in Pakistan, Saleemuddin (who uses his first name) said: “The police should not have given into the pressure of a few hardliners; this only strengthens them further.”
While only two cases surfaced this year, last year, too, a couple of cases were reported. Many fear if not nipped in the bud, this could set precedence for the coming years.
To Pakistani journalist and rights activist Beena Sarwar the episode is reminiscent of Nazi Germany and the persecution the Jews faced. “It goes against the basic tenets of humanity and justice, and the Islamic principle of ‘to you your faith and to me, mine’.”
“Pakistan must, for its own sake, take a firm stand against any such vigilantism and witch-hunting and intrusion into citizens’ personal lives and faith,” Sarwar said.