Ahmadis’ human rights and the national Urdu press
Rabwah: The Press Section of the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya issued its annual report (2008) on “Anti-Ahmadiyya news published by the Urdu newspapers”. It gives facts and figures, and makes interesting reading.
The survey was restricted to only the major Urdu national dailies. During the year 2008, it remained a routine with the Urdu papers to print anti-Ahmadiyya statements and hate-promoting news in bold headlines. However, no paper had the courage to print the occasional Ahmadiyya explanation. In year 2007, nine hundred and seventy four such news items appeared in the press, but in 2008 it went up to one thousand and thirty three items. Almost all of these were prejudiced, hate-promoting and false propaganda. The daily Nawa-i-Waqt (Editor: Majeed Nizami) led this band by printing 465 news, while in 2007 it printed 235 news against Ahmadiyyat. The daily Jang stood second (founded by Mir Khalil ur Rehman), and the Daily Express was at close third.
Mullas are in the habit of making provocative statements. These are published without any verification. As a result, common folk get agitated and inflict physical and costly harm upon Ahmadis. As a result of such provocation and hateful propaganda six Ahmadis were murdered last year for their faith, while eleven have been murdered this year (2009).
A few of these headlines whose photocopies have been printed in that report are translated below for the information of our readers:
Qadianis are not loyal to the country, nation and Islam. ‘Sajid Mir’
The daily Jang, Lahore; May 27, 2008
Qadianis are enemies of Islam and Pakistan. Shadabi Raza, Mufti M. Sadeeq
The Daily Express, Lahore; June 2, 2008
Our drive will continue till the end of Qadianiat. (Aalami Khatme-e-Nabuwwat Conference)
The daily Pakistan, Lahore; September 9, 2008
The centenary celebration of Qadianiat is a conspiracy to destroy the peace of the country – Ulema
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; May 24, 2008
Qadianis are involved in the publication of blasphemous cartoons. Abu Bakr Madni
The Daily Express, Lahore; April 17, 2008
Cases should be registered against Qadiani students of the PMC
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; June 30, 2008
600 Qadianis of Pakistan recruited in Israeli Army
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Lahore; October 16, 2008
And many more.
Conduct of the daily Jang, the leading vernacular paper
September 7, 2009: The daily Jang has adopted anti-Ahmadiyya policy to promote its sales and to curry favour with the clerics. It issues a special edition annually on September 7 to celebrate the day when through an amendment to the constitution, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto in 1974.
Editors and column-writers of this daily never tire of preaching morality to others. However, when it comes to political mullas, the paper spares all its space to support them in curbing religious freedom of others and making shameful demands. For instance this time an essay written by Mufti Khalid Mahmud unabashedly recommends death for the so-called apostasy, ban on propagation of dissenting religious opinion, imprisonment for use of epithets forbidden by the state, forcible take over of places of worship of ‘heretics’, usurpation of their property etc. This so-called ‘free press’ uses its freedom to curb universal human rights and freedom of others. This it does despite the state’s declared policy to disown and discredit communalism. The Jang defiles the dictates of social and governmental consensus that spreading communal hatred is evil.
The daily Jang is edited by Abid Abdullah, and its Chief Executive (Editor) is Mir Shakil ur Rahman.
Open incitement to murder
We produce below the translation of a press report, sic, from the daily Ausaf, Lahore July 25, 2009:
No room for Qadianis in the Muslim Ummah – Chaudhry Iqbal
Haveli Lakkha (correspondent): “There is no room for Qadianis in the Muslim Ummah; it is a religious duty of every Muslim to dispatch a Qadiani to hell,” this view was expressed by Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal President International Khatme-e-Nabuwwat in a corner meeting held to prepare for Ramadan-ul-Mubarak. He said: “Qadianism is a cancer and a mischief. Leave alone boycotting them, a Qadiani should not be allowed to reside in a Muslim area. However, if such a situation does arise, it is the duty of every Muslim to dispatch them to hell and thus win an honored place in the court of Allah and His prophet (P.B.U.H.). Mr. Bhutto’s achievement of declaring the Qadiani non-Muslims is an expiation for all his shortcomings.”
Chaudhry Iqbal instigated the Muslims to murder Ahmadis living in their neighborhood. If the government is serious about maintaining communal place, it should have prosecuted Iqbal for committing a crime under section PPC 115.
It is noteworthy that irresponsible vernacular dailies like the Ausaf provide publicity space to such extremist views. This also amounts to abetment of the crime.
Press reports on defiling of an Ahmadiyya graveyard – an interesting and portentous comparison
The boundary wall of the Ahmadiyya graveyard in Pir Mahal was demolished. The English as well as the vernacular press reported this story. A brief comparative study is worthwhile.
The daily Dawn, Lahore of June 9, 2009 filed the following story from its correspondent in Toba Tek Singh:
Sectarian strife hits the dead
Toba Tek Singh, June 8: Pir Mahal has been simmering with sectarian clashes since Sunday night when some religious zealots demolished the wall of a graveyard of Jamaat Ahmadiyya sect. The police have not taken any action against the attackers.
Labor Party Pakistan District Secretary Tariq Mahmud told a press conference here on Monday the attackers also set on fire a tractor trolley and damaged a generator and a water tank at the site.
Mahmud says one acre was allotted to the sect for their graveyard in 1988 by the government and there were two graves at the site. According to him, some qabza groups wanted a 15-foot wide passage across the graveyard. When the graveyard management refused to meet their demand, they instigated ulema on sectarian grounds who led a crowd to attack the site.
Jamaat Ahle-i-Sunnah leader Maulana Akbar Rizvi claimed that allotment of the land in the heart of the city to the sect was a conspiracy to create law and order and “religious youth” just became out of control and demolished the wall. He demanded the cancellation of the allotment, saying there was a fake grave in the graveyard.
A police official confirmed the incident, saying any action on the part of police would fan the sectarian strife.
The daily Ausaf, Lahore of June 10, 2009 reported the same incident but in the following headlines and text:
Pir Mahal: Qadiani occupation of land in the garb of graveyard. Citizens in utmost protest, demolished the boundary wall.
Qadianis built a boundary wall overnight around the 8 canal land opposite Jinnah Colony. They intend building a religious center under the cover of a graveyard.
Qadianis are not allowed to build a place of worship nor can they indulge in religious activities. The land should be retrieved and those responsible should be punished. Ulama
(Excerpts): Pir Mahal (correspondent): Qadianis occupied land worth millions in front of a Muslim neighborhood, in the garb of a graveyard. Hundred of lovers of Khatme Nabuwwat raided the place and demolished the boundary wall. … A great Jalsa was held in protest in the Jame Masjid, Ghallah Mandi. … (The speakers said) Construction of a religious center, in the garb of graveyard, is a conspiracy to destroy the peace in Pir Mahal. …The 1973 constitution is explicit that Qadianis are non-Muslim, and they can neither build a place of worship nor indulge in religious activities close to a Muslim neighborhood (sic). …
The daily Jang of June 10, 2009 reported the same incident under the following headline: Protest in Pir Mahal against Qadianis’ occupation of state land
A reading of the above reports describes essentials of the incident. One can also gather the role played by and the style of the national vernacular press in general on controversial issues. A future historian will not fail to hold the Pakistani vernacular press responsible for its share in the present day corruption and decay in Pakistani society.
It will also be noticed that while the authorities support the mulla whenever he agitates against the burial of an Ahmadi in a public graveyard, they also take no action when the mulla obstructs the management of a separate graveyard for Ahmadis. Does the government want Ahmadi dead to remain unburied? The government policy concerning Ahmadis and its inhumane implementation in the country is perhaps unmatched by any other state in recent times.
Another sample from the vernacular press
The vernacular press, with some rare exceptions, has played a very negative role for over half a century in the victimization of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan. It has propagated hostile false news, promoted sectarian strife, prompted its shallow readership to blatantly violate Ahmadis’ human rights and urged the state to do all that it can to persecute this harmless religious community. The Urdu press finds it convenient to routinely give space to any petty mulla to declare: Qadianis are enemies of Islam and Pakistan. Some leading dailies can boast more than two anti-Ahmadiyya news items per day. Most of them print special editions on anti-Ahmadiyya theme on any excuse. In April they highlighted this theme at the occasion of the conference in the Badshahi Mosque and also on the death anniversary of Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whom one of these papers called the ‘Mujahid’ of the End of Prophethood (The daily Pakistan of April 4, 2009), while another unabashedly declared that “It was shaheed Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto who drove the last nail in the coffin of Qadianiat”. (The daily Jinnah of April 4, 2009)
One of these dailies is the daily Ausaf in Lahore (Chief Editor: Mehtab Khan; Editor: Mohsin Bilal Khan). It tasked one of its staff reporters to fabricate a story regarding Ahmadi students in medical colleges, and came up with three ‘news’ items under a three-column headline on May 9, 2009. The following is the brief account of it. First, the headline:
Qadianis are enemies of Islam. They should not be admitted in medical colleges. Students
The Ausaf attributed all three stories to a ‘lady reporter’, without mentioning her name. The malicious view given in the main headline is attributed to ‘students’ although the Ausaf’s record provides ample evidence that this is also its own opinion. This ‘lady reporter’ is said to have visited the medical colleges at Lahore but her opening salvo was again a willful fabrication: “The students of medical colleges express extreme anger (intihai ghamo ghussai ka izhar) over the discreet transfer of Qadiani students who had been expelled from the Faisalabad Medical College.” Obviously the Ausaf aims at reopening the Faisalabad issue of 2008. Who, other than the extremist and sectarian clerics’ lobby, is it working for?
The lady reporter lamented: “Although the Muslim students come from high class families they are unaware of these people who defile the Prophethood (Qadianis) (sic)”. It is obvious that the objective of the Ausaf was to reignite a sectarian issue like the one that took place in Punjab Medical College at Faisalabad. The Ausaf took numerous photographs at this occasion and printed 10 of these along with the story. This is reproduced below in facsimile.
It is relevant to mention that only two days earlier, on May 7, 2009, this newspaper published a story under a three-column headline in which it reported that the issue of Ahmadi students of the Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad had been completely suppressed (daba diya gia) by ‘hidden powers in utmost secrecy’. The Ausaf disclosed the names of all the Ahmadi students, their roll numbers, their home addresses and their new locations.
Pakistan is facing a mortal threat from forces of obscurantism and extremism. Who energizes these forces? Some of them occupy offices of such newspapers. Let this come on the record.
Sindhi press tows the line of Urdu press
A Sindhi paper Dalat-Awaz published from Mithi, district Tharparkar, Sindh apparently has decided to follow the lead provided by the Urdu Press in matters of religion. In its issue of July 25, 2009 it took up in a big way the case of Ahmadiyya and Christian activism in that region. While it is true that Christian and Ahmadi NGOs are providing much-needed commendable social and medical services in the area, the paper gave it entirely a religious colour and indulged in accusations that the two groups are involved in conversion efforts by hook or crook. It would be much better for Dalat-Awaz to urge other NGOs to excel the competitors in providing help and services to the area’s poor, rather than agitate the illiterate and excitable masses over the faith of the helpers.
Hostile activities in Khushab
Khushab, March 16, 2009: Hostile activities against the Ahmadiyya community in Khushab increased during the first quarter. A community official reported that non-Ahmadis had planned a procession against Ahmadis in Chak No. 39-DB, which was to be led by maulavis. The mullas could not arrive on time, so their plans to take out a procession did not materialize.
Rana Rafiq Ahmad, an Ahmadi received threats on his cell-phone from some unknown person. He received these threats from phone no. 0302-5601443. The caller threatened him that as he had been preaching, he should leave Khushab forthwith.
On the evening of 15th March a Nabuwwat Conference was held in the main mosque of Mittha Tawana in Khushab district. Some mullas came from Karachi to participate in it. Mullas Abu Bakr Madni and Orang Zaib Farooqi were prominent among the speakers who addressed the audience. At the occasion of 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal, speeches were made against Ahmadis and anti-Ahmadiyya literature was distributed in several parts of Khushab.
A TV program mentions the Ahmadiyya situation in Pakistan
September 3, 2009: A TV channel Express News holds a weekly talk-show “Point Blank with Lucman” which is hosted by Mr. Mobashir Lucman. Lucman is known for discussing sensitive issues. On September 3, 2009 he invited three mullas, Jalil Naqvi a Shia, Amir ul Azim of Jamaat Islami and Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, a Brelvi political cleric. Lucman took up the issue of Ahmadiyyat for about 10 minutes. It is rare that the electronic media mentions Ahmadiyyat; occasionally when it does, it provides an opportunity to the mulla to restate his aggressive and obscure position.
Lucman introduced the subject by showing a video of the incident of Lathianwala where the police undertook the sacrilege of defiling the Ahmadiyya mosque. The three participating mullas and viewers all over Pakistan saw how the state was involved in violating Ahmadis’ human rights and freedom of religion by removing the Kalima (Islamic creed) with a chisel and covering up other holy inscriptions with paint and cement from Ahmadis’ homes. The incident must have shocked most of the viewers but the penal of mullas was not impressed.
Lucman asked them: “These holy inscriptions are being broken up with hammer and chisel. This whole big tile, on which Allah and Masha Allah are written, fell down in the gutter below. Let me tell you that this place is a Masjid of Jamaat Ahmadiyya from which the Kalima is being defaced while the worshippers are (seen) offering prayers (Namaz). All the homes (that were shown) belong to Ahmadis. I do not belong to any sect, particularly Jamaat Ahmadiyya, but I do know that defiling the Kalima or Quranic verses (that is a sin), what should be done about this? Will you please tell me?”
At this Allama Naqvi, the Shia took the plea that as the constitution of Pakistan has declared Ahmadis non-Muslims they should forego their link with Islamic practices like other non-Muslims. The Allama conveniently forgot that the fatwas of the majority of the ulama on the Kufr of Shias are more numerous and more severe than against Ahmadis.
Tahir Ashrafi suggested that ‘Qadianis’ should have their own logo and Kalima as they believe in Mirza Qadiani. Ashrafi did not mention the fact that Brelvis have their own whole range of saints whom they are accused of worshipping.
But the most ludicrous of the three responses was from none other than the mulla representing Jamaat Islami, Amir ul Azim. He said, “What I say is on the basis of ‘copyright.’ As you cannot permit me to name my own (TV) channel as Express or name my own cola as Pepsi or Coca Cola, use and write their logos, and then say: let the people decide as to which one is real and which one is fake, which one is better and which is not good. Only Azim could have the audacity to compare the licenses for a TV channel or Coca Cola with the institution of a worldwide religion. Lucman should have offered to show him the ‘license’ for the Express News and demanded from him the license that the Jamaat Islami has got from Allah to appropriate all the copyrights of Islam.
One wishes that Lucman would also invite an Ahmadi to join his program; however there is the great risk that the Blasphemy law and laws specific to Ahmadis would be invoked against any participating Ahmadi.
A conspiracy and malicious drive against the Ahmadiyya community
Lahore: Express TV aired an interview of one Abdur Rahman in its program Point Blank (Anchor: Lucman Mubashir) on December 21, 2009. In the video Abdur Rahman appeared to be grievously injured. He stated that he was a great-grand son of Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas (the founder of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat) and a son of Mirza Nasir Ahmad (Khalifatul Masih III). He said that he had converted to Islam in 1999, and since then the community had viciously turned against him. He also made the accusation that while he was on his way to Ganga Ram Hospital, he was picked up by Ahmadis, beaten up severely and thrown by the roadside in a critical state, wherefrom he was recovered by some men of a nearby madrassah that belongs to Allama Zaheer. To this statement the anchorperson added that Muslims would powerfully support and protect all those who converted to Islam, etc.
Abdur Rahman’s statement was a lie and fabrication. He is neither the son of Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad Khalifatul Masih III, nor the great-grand son of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. The anchorperson and the TV channel became willing and knowingly partners to the conspiracy, and were guilty of agitating sectarianism loaded with mischief and dire consequences.
Mr. Saleem ud Din, the spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan issued a press release on this incident. It was published in the daily Alfazl of December 24, 2009. Its translation is given below:
The accusation of torture over conversion is baseless and is a conspiracy to spread agitation (Fitna) in the country against the Ahmadiyya Jamaat.
The statement of one Abdur Rahman, aired by a TV channel is ridiculous. Khalifatul Masih III had no son of this name.
Press Release by Mr. Saleem-ud-Din, Nazir Umur Aama, spokesman of the Jamaat Ahmadiyya.
Rabwah (PR): The interview of one Abdur Rahman, aired by a Pakistani TV channel Express News in its program Point Blank is ridiculous and riddled with lies. Why was such baseless and ridiculous news broadcast without due enquiry; as well as published in the daily Express without due inquiry. According to Mr. Saleem ud Din Nazir Umur Aama, the spokesman of Jamaat Ahmadiyya, this news and interview is fabricated and false, and is a conspiracy to spread unrest in the country against the Jamaat.
According to the spokesman it is surprising that Abdur Rahman claimed to be a great-grand son of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Community, and a son of Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, the Khalifatul Masih III. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the Jamaat, knows that Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad the Khalifatul Masih III had three sons, Mirza Anas Ahmad, Mirza Farid Ahmad and Mirza Luqman Ahma; all three of whom are alive by the grace of God. Thus the claim of Abdur Rahman, and its transmission by the TV channel without prior confirmation from the concerned people is an open violation of journalistic ethics and sets a dreadful precedent. Abdur Rahman’s interview is self-contradictory; how come a responsible TV channel failed to notice this?
Mr. Saleem ud Din, the spokesman of Jamaat Ahmadiyya stated that Jamaat Ahmadiyya does not believe in any penalty for apostasy and strongly condemns those who propose punishment for this. Everyone is free to proclaim any belief that he or she considers to be true. History is a witness to the fact that converts to Ahmadiyyat have often suffered violence; while some have been put to death.
The spokesman further stated that Abdur Rahman’s statement appears to be a part of deeper conspiracy. The media should refrain from propagating something without due inquiry, as that may lead to unrest. In the present national situation, great care and a commitment to truth is needed.