The Media – 2012

2012

Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings: Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, or with both.

Pakistan Penal Code 298

(A three-column headline in a major  vernacular daily)

Translation:  The apostates, deserving to be killed, Qadianis must be expelled from the country: Jamiat Ulamae Islam.  The daily Khabrain, Lahore 03.07.12

The media, print as well as electronic, plays its part in the Ahmadiyya issue. The vernacular media unabashedly does the mulla’s bid often. It repeatedly prints the mulla’s assertion that Ahmadis are Wajib-ul-Qatl (they must be killed). Its owners think that this policy of appearing mulla-friendly promotes their sales. The English newspapers often uphold Ahmadis’ rights and urge the state and the society to undo the wrongs perpetrated against Ahmadis. However, not all dailies do that; some choose to write only occasionally, or nothing. That is better than the vernaculars that avidly persecute the marginalized Ahmadiyya community.

Ahmadiyya press report released for the year 2011

Rabwah:         The Ahmadiyya central office in Pakistan released its annual press report for the year 2011 in early 2012. It is an 18-page report in Urdu. Its summary and salient features were mentioned in a Press Release issued in English as well as Urdu. The English version is produced below:

Press Section

Nazarat Umoor E Aama

Sadar Anjuman Ahmadiyya Rabwah (Pakistan)

Ph: 047-6212459   Fax: 047-6215459   Email: press.section@saapk.org

PRESS RELEASE

The open hate campaign against Ahmadis reached new heights. Even innocent children were not spared. 6 Ahmadis murdered because of their faith and 31 survived assassination attempts.

After the promulgation of 1984 anti Ahmadiyya Ordinance 210 Ahmadis have been murdered because of their faith. There are 1008 cases pending in various courts throughout Pakistan.

In 2011 the Pakistani Urdu press continued the publication of baseless news stories. During the year more than 1173 news stories were published against Ahmadis.

Jama’at Ahmadiyya has published the report on persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan and the press report for 2011 about Pakistani Urdu press propaganda against Ahmadis.

Rabwah (Press Release): Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan has released the Persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan report for 2011. The spokesperson for Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan Mr. Saleem ud Din said, “There was an open hate campaign against Ahmadis in Pakistan and young children studying in nursery grade classes were not even spared from this horrific discrimination and hatred”. Six Ahmadis lost their lives because of the fact that they were Ahmadis and more than 20 were targets of assassination attempts. Mr. Saleem ud Din also informed that hate filled posters, stickers, fliers and calendars were openly distributed across Pakistan. He specifically mentioned the hate campaigns faced by the Ahmadis in Faisalabad where fliers and leaflets were openly distributed calling anyone to kill Ahmadis in open. The government and security agencies failed to take any concrete action against such actions. Punishing the culprits behind these leaflets and hate material is a far cry.

The extremists have increased efforts to isolate the community, and the campaign to encourage people to boycott Ahmadis and Ahmadi products was also a major issue. Expelling children from educational institutions also increased where young kids studying in nursery level classes were not spared. Ahmadi children faced expulsion from schools or outright refusal by the educational institutions to admit them. The government seemed to succumb under the pressure from extremists and decided to look other way while these acts of hate and terror were carried out.

All the acts perpetrated after the 1984 anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance are against the fundamentals of the constitution of Pakistan. The post-1984 era for Ahmadis is marked by an increasingly difficult period for Ahmadis. Mr. Saleem ud Din urged the government to consider these Ahmadiyya-specific laws and ensure that Ahmadis in Pakistan are given equal rights as any other citizen. Ahmadis are facing legal, social, cultural and political discrimination because of these laws and these are against the very base of our society where equal rights of individual are prime. Mr. Saleem ud Din said, “There have been 210 deaths after the imposition of these discriminatory laws in 1984, 254 assassination attempts on various Ahmadis. 23 Ahmadi places of worship were demolished and 28 were sealed by the administration. 16 places of worship were forcefully taken over, 29 graves of deceased Ahmadis were opened and desecrated and 57 Ahmadis were refused burial in common graveyards.”

Mr. Saleem ud Din further added that during 2011 Ahmadis were not allowed to build place of worship anywhere in Pakistan. At many places police forcefully stopped the construction of places of worship. As a matter of fact according to the constitution of Pakistan every citizen is free to practice their faith and build their places of worship. Just because of prejudice, Ahmadi businesses are targeted and Ahmadi officials in government and private sector are victimized.

According to Saleem ud Din, in 2011 as well, Ahmadis were not allowed to hold any convention in their centre Rabwah, where 95% population belongs to Ahmadiyya community. Sports events were not spared either and the community was not allowed to hold any type of sports events openly. On the other hand those against the Jama’at Ahmadiyya were given a free hand to hold rallies whenever, wherever and however they wanted. They were also given a free hand to abuse and slander revered Ahmadi figures.

The spokesperson of Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan called upon the moderate and conscientious circles of Pakistani community to urge the government to take effective measures to curtail the prejudice on the basis of faith so that Pakistan could be rid of sectarianism and prejudice and Pakistan could become a prosperous and peaceful country.###

            The contents of the press release were adequately reported by the English press generally. The Urdu press ignored it mostly; one of the dailies spared for it only one inch space in single column. The electronic media also opted not to mention it. The Express Tribune of May 7, 2012 printed the story with the appropriate headlines and highlighted a figure in a square as follows:

State of the nation

Urdu press seen complicit in Ahmadi baiting

Report on Ahmadis reveals victimization and harassment

 

LANGUAGE MATTERS

1,173

Anti-Ahmadi stories were published in the Urdu Press in 2011

PERSECUTION OF AHMADIS IN PAKISTAN DURING THE YEAR 2011

 

A disclosure – a Qadiani teaches Arabic!

Faisalabad; May 12, 2012:    The vernacular daily ‘Aman’ published from the industrial city of Faisalabad in the central Punjab disseminated the following noteworthy report on May 12, 2012, (Translation):

A Qadiani teacher discovered teaching Arabic in Girls Middle School 77 GB

There is deep conspiracy in appointment of this teacher to teach Arabic by the headmistress despite knowing

People demand transfer of the said teacher from teaching Arabic

This report is a typical example of irresponsible behaviour of vernacular press. Details are available in Chapter 9 of Annual Report 2012. The Para 7 of this story mentions, “This report is indicative of the situation faced by Ahmadis in Pakistan where the clerics, the media, the state and a part of the society have joined hands, through acts of commission and omission, to persecute Ahmadis beyond limits.”

An op-ed from the daily Ausaf – fit for archives

Lahore:           The daily Ausaf published an article by Sarfraz Syed in its issue of February 2, 2012. Its title is: It is a great sin (Gunah kabeerah) to levy false accusation on a Muslim’s faith. The sub-title is: As stated by renowned jurists and distinguished ulama karam.

            Salient points from the contents were highlighted and repeated in blocks on the right, left and center of the daily’s page. These are translated below:

  • The Holy Quran strictly forbids false witnessing. One who calls another Muslim a non-Muslim, himself commits infidelity (kufr) – Hadith Sharif.
  • It is essential to protect innocent people against propaganda of miscreants. A false witness may be punished with imprisonment and fine.
  • Slander and defamation has become a routine and fashion (in our society, these days).
  • An innocent person’s life could be in danger on account of false accusation.
  • No law can be enacted against the teaching of the Quran and Sunnah, in Pakistan.
  • Strict action should be taken against a fabricator’s attack on a Muslim’s belief.
  • Pakistani law prescribes severe punishment against a slanderer.
  • Slander and fabrication is condemned and answerable all over the world.
  • There is a UN Convention against false accusation and false evidence.

            The above opinions and findings are laudable. However, it is a pity that the daily Ausaf is undoubtedly the leader in violation of all the above where Ahmadis are concerned. The amount of slander, fabrication, false propaganda and motivation for violence in this daily against Ahmadis would surprise a fair inquirer.

            Although the points mentioned above are praiseworthy, Sarfraz Syed’s focus is on Muslims who become targets of bigotry and prejudice. There is no direct mention of victims who are non-Muslims or assumed to be non-Muslim. Muslim scholars glibly project their religion to be universal; if so, its fair teachings should be applied universally – to one and all, regardless of nationality, colour and creed. Sarfraz could have well added the following from the Quran to his op-ed:

O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do. Ch.5; V.9

 

Another big lie is manufactured

Lahore:           The daily Ausaf, Lahore in its issue of March 20, 2012 reported under a three-column headline, (excerpt):

Qadianis have conspired to break up Pakistan through support of anti-Islam movements.

An ‘operation’ by state authorities in Chenab Nagar will result in major disclosures. Qadianis have constructed arms depots. Ata ul Mohaiman

‘United India’ is a matter of faith with Qadianis. Maulana Abdur Rauf Farooqi, Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema, Dr. Farid Piracha (JI), Allama Zubair Ahmad and others address press conference.

Lahore; (our correspondent): Speakers at the Majlis Ahrar Islam Pakistan’s annual Khatme Nabuwwat conference held to commemorate the 10,000 martyrs of 1953, under the chairmanship of Quaid Ahrar Syed Ataul Muhaiman in the Central Office in New Muslim Town stated that the tyranny of the martial law was first exercised against the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement of 1953. Qadiani terrorist organization Furqan Battalion clad in army uniforms, played with the blood of Muslims (Mussalmanon kay khun se holi kheli) and the authorities using state forces shed the holy blood of 10,000 unarmed Muslims.

            All these lies have been appropriately nailed by Ahmadis before; however to put the blame of the death of those ‘rioting martyrs’ on Furqan Battalion is a lie which has occurred to Ahraris perhaps first time, 60 years after the riots. The Furqan Battalion, comprising Ahmadi volunteers, was overtly under the high command of Pakistan Army.

            This battalion undertook defense operations in Azad Kashmir area, and its services were formally recognized, praised and placed on record by no less a person than General Gracy, then Pakistan Army Chief.

It had nothing to do with the Punjab Disturbances of 1953. The honorable judges of the acclaimed Enquiry did not even hint at the lie mentioned by Ahrar speakers; they however did take note of the death of each and every rioter in all the cities of the Punjab; their total amounted to 37 as compared to the alleged figure of 10,000.

            The prestigious Enquiry Report is now again available in the market.

An op-ed loaded with present-day reality of Pakistani mulla, media and mandarin

Lahore:           Leading right-wing daily of Lahore, the Nawa-i-Waqt published an op-ed written by Ahmad Kamal Nizami of Faisalabad, in its issue of March 19, 2012. Its title is “Maulvi Faqir, the unarmed soldier of the End of Prophethood Movement passed away…!” This op-ed merits a mention in this report for reference in future. While Maulvi Faqir Muhammad was an archetype mulla, the Nawa-i-Waqt is a typical vernacular daily in Pakistan and Ahmad Kamal Nizami is a senior Urdu columnist and op-ed writer who is a master in the art of self-promotion through verbosity. His own portrait is a permanent part of the standard logo of his columns:

            He started his columns thus: “When the evil (fitna) of Qadianism took root in the Pak-Indian subcontinent at the end of the nineteenth century/beginning of the twentieth numerous notables took it upon themselves to uproot it and crush its head…” In order to describe the personality of the founder of the Ahmadiyya community, Nizami then indulged in vernacular and cultural insults, jibes, slander, like: Apostate, heretic (zindique), Jew, Musailma the liar, Salman Rushdi, Rajpal, Christian, Aswad Ansi, Abu Jahal (the arch-enemy of the Holy Prophetsa) Abu Lahab, Walid Bin Mughira (leading infidels in Mecca at the time of Prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h.) and Ibne Saba.

            Nizami does not miss an opportunity of self-promotion; in this article he managed to mention his father as, “My respected blessed father, the delivered soul (marhum wa maghfur) had no honorable words in his lexicon for the traitors to Islam, and he always kept his sword out of the sheath for such people.”

            In praise of the deceased mulla, Nizami concludes: “He believed, and rightly so, that the Jihad against Qadianism was a Jihad against Satanism and imperialism.” No need to use cryptic language in Pakistan to invite people to murder others for their faith!

            Nizami brings on record that, at one point in time, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad was like a symbol of terror to the administration. The administrative authorities were dead scared of him. This is true. It reminds one of June 2003 when the Education Department of the Government of Punjab issued a formal government letter with the title: LETTER RECEIVED FROM MAULVI FAQIR MOHAMMAD, accorded it TOP PRIORITY and sent it by REGISTERED mail to the DCO, DPO and EDO (Edu). The letter contained unworthy instructions regarding three ‘Qadiani Schools’ in Faisalabad. This letter would continue to bring shame to the Education Department and the Home Department of this great province for many years to come.

            However, it seems, occasionally there were some courageous officials who showed his true face to Maulvi Faqir Muhammad in the mirror. According to Nizami, many years ago a Russian troupe was scheduled to visit Faisalabad for a performance. Maulvi Faqir objected to the visit and initiated a campaign against the visit. The administration arrested him under the Goonda (goons) Act and declared him a Goonda. Nizami accuses the concerned official of working for the Satan.

            Only a sample of this mulla’s recent public statements are reproduced below (headlines in press):

–          Qadianis should be expelled from Pakistan. Maulvi Faqir Ahmad

–          The penalty of death for apostasy should be imposed. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad

–          Qadiani place of worship in village 109 R/B should be demolished. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad

            In Faisalabad, the civil society has been led by clerics like Maulvi Faqir Muhammad and ‘intellectuals’ like Nizami; this has resulted in general radicalization of the local population. Only in the Ahmadiyya sector, Ahmadis have been killed here in broad daylight in bazaars, children were kidnapped for ransom, students were expelled from professional colleges and attempts were made on the life of Ahmadi leaders. Mr. Iqbal, who spent more than 7 years in prison on a false charge of blasphemy and was eventually acquitted by the High Court also belonged to this district and was condemned for life by a Faisalabad court.

            Nizami knows what is palatable and acceptable in the various circles these days, so he ends his article with:            “The blessed soul (mulla Faqir) spent all his life working for Islam and the dogma of End of Prophethood. His services in the cause of eradication of Qadianism, selfless service to humanity, promotion of religious tolerance and fraternal feelings, forbearance and unity of the Ummah are praiseworthy.” Never mind the internal contradictions of his statement, Ahmad Kamal Nizami has written an op-ed that manifestly describes the mulla, the print media and the officialdom in the early years of the 21st century Pakistan.

            The original article (in Urdu) is held in the archives of the Ahmadiyya central office.

Run for your life – an op-ed fit for archives

Pervez Hoodbhoy, a renowned social scientist, scholar and column-writer wrote an article on the issue of ‘religious faith’ in Pakistan; it was published by the Express Tribune in its issue of March 5, 2012. The article is bold, censorious and could be valuable to those who remain willing to learn from life. Extracts:

In Pakistan one’s religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and murder.

Eighteen bloodied bodies, shot Gestapo-style, lay by the roadside. Men in army uniforms had stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons on board alight. Those with Shia sounding names on their national identification cards were separated out. Minutes later it was all over; the earlier massacres of Hazara Shias in Mastung and Quetta had been repeated.

In Pakistan one’s religious faith, or lack of one, has become sufficient to warrant execution and murder. The killers do their job fearlessly and frequently. The 17th century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, once observed that “men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it for religious conviction.”

Equipped with just enough religion to hate those with another faith – but not enough to love their coreligionists – Pakistanis have mostly turned their backs on religious atrocities. Exceptionally grotesque ones, such as when 88 Ahmadis quietly praying in Lahore on a Friday were turned into corpses, have also failed to inspire public reaction. Mass executions do not interest Pakistan’s religious parties, or Imran’s Khan’s PTI. For them, only the killings by American drones matter.

Until recently, Pakistan’s Shias did not have the self-image of a religious minority. They had joined Sunnis in supporting Mr. Bhutto’s 1974 decision to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim. But now they are worried. The Tribal Areas convulsed in sectarian warfare: Kurram, Parachinar and Hangu (in the settled districts) are killing grounds for both Sunni and Shia, but with most casualties being Shia. City life has also become increasingly insecure and segregated. Karachi’s Shia neighbourhoods are visibly barricaded and fortified.

But while Shias are numerous enough to put up a defence, Ahmadis are not. Last month, a raging 5,000 strong mob descended upon their sole worship place in Satellite Town, Rawalpindi. Organized by the Jamaat-i-Islami, various leaders from Jamaat-ud-Da‘wa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipah-e-Sahaba addressed the rally demanding the worship place’s security cameras and protective barricades be removed. The police agreed with the mob’s demands, advising the Ahmadis to cease praying. The worship place has now been closed down.

Forbidden from calling themselves Muslims, Ahmadi children are expelled from school once their religion is discovered. Just a hint may be enough to destroy a career. Knowing this, the school staff at a high school in Mansehra added the word ‘Qadiani’ to the name of an Ahmadi student, Raheel Ahmad effectively eliminating the boy’s chances of getting a university education. The same school also held an anti-Ahmadi programme, distributing prizes to winners.

The latest outrage is that new ID cards, issued by the Punjab government, require the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to insert a ‘Qadiani’ entry in the online forms. Ahmadis now do not have the option of declaring themselves non-Muslims. Instead the government demands that they open themselves to public persecution, a method that Nazi Germany used against Jews.

Even dead Ahmadis are not spared: news had reached the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat that Nadia Hanif, a 17-year old school teacher who had died of illness ten days ago, was actually an Ahmadi but buried in a Muslim graveyard in Chanda Singh village, Kasur. Her grave was promptly dug up, and the body removed for reburial.

Pakistan’s state apparatus, for all its tanks and guns, offers no protection to those deemed as religious minorities. Is it just weakness? Or, perhaps complicity? While swarms of intelligence agents can be seen in many places, they fail spectacularly to intercept religious terrorists. More ominously, recent months have seen state-sanctioned Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC) rallies across the country, drawing many tens of thousands. Prominent self-proclaimed Shia and Ahmadi killers, prance on stage while holding hands in a show of unity.

            At the Multan DPC rally on February 17, Khatm-e-Nabuwwat leaders bayed for Ahmadi blood while sharing the stage with the famed Malik Ishaq, a self-acclaimed Shia-killer. Newspaper reports say Ishaq was freed last year after frightened judges treated him like a guest in the courtroom, offering him tea and biscuits. One judge attempted to hide his face with his hands. But after Ishaq read out the names of his children, the judge abandoned the trial.

            What does the Pakistan Army think it will gain tolerating – or perhaps encouraging – such violent forces once again? Its jawans pay an enormous price in fighting them, and their offshoots, elsewhere in the country. But perhaps the notion that extremists are Pakistan’s ‘strategic assets’ for use in Kashmir and Afghanistan has captured the military’s mind. Or, post-OBL, perhaps a miffed leadership seeks to show anger at the US through such rallies. Whatever the explanation, Pakistan’s minorities face catastrophe.

Published in The Express tribune, March 5th, 2012

            Let it not be said that nobody fired the warning shots.

            Also, “when you are defending the future, you just can’t give up,” said Marianne Pearl in her interview to Shehrbano Taseer.

An interesting story that exposes the state of Pakistani clerics, journalists and others

Lahore; August 25 and 26, 2012:      This story comprises two news reports published in the daily Mashriq, Lahore on August 25 and then on August 26 on an event in which Ahmadis were mentioned. First the two-column news on August 25, 2012(translation):

“Chicha Watni:             Qadiani thugs (gundey) rough up religious scholar; shave off his beard. Religious groups protest against the police for not registering an FIR on complainant’s report.

Chicha Watni: (Mashriq correspondent) Four Qadiani bullies accompanied by their mates roughed up a religious scholar, cropped his beard and attempted to set him on fire after pouring diesel over him. Religious associations protested vehemently after the Friday prayers in the Jame Mosque in Block 12, against the police for failing to register an FIR based on the statement of the complainant. Condemnation resolutions were moved and carried in all the city mosques. As per details, Maulvi Mohammad Sharif son of Muhammad Ali, resident of a nearby village 9/11-L was near the Babari Masjid on his way to meet his nephew, Saifulla Khan, when Qadri Naseer S/o Shafi Sara, Ashraf S/o Naseer Sara, Nomi S/o Naseer Sara and Basharat Mirzai, residents of 181/9-L and Nawaz Barain resident 9/11-L etc. all armed encircled him, subjected him to torture, cropped his beard with a dagger and attempted to set him on fire alive after soaking him with diesel. Hearing his shrieks and pleas, some people assembled on the spot and succeeded in saving his life by mercy appeals to the accused. Maulvi Muhammad Sharif was taken to Sub Division Hospital in an injured state.

Chicha Watni:    On hearing the news, leaders of JUI, Majlis Ahrar Islam and Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat, namely Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema, Pirji Aziz ur Rehman, Hafiz Habibullah Gujjar, Intizar Ahmad Bhatti, Qari Muhammad Naeem, Hafiz Hafeezullah Gujjar and a large number of religious activists visited the hospital.”

            Ahmadi readers of the Mashriq were very upset and perturbed over this report of the alleged misconduct of some Ahmadis. Ahmadi families who live in Chicha Watni and in that area felt greatly concerned over their own security after this very damaging press report.

            The same newspaper brought great relief to Ahmadis the next day, when the authenticity of the first report and the involvement of ‘Qadianis’ were denied altogether, (translation):

The complainant fabricated the story of cropping his beard in order to spread unrest: Naseer Ahmad

We are Muslims and believe the Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, as the last prophet: Big press conference

Chicha Watni:    (Mashriq correspondent) Local landlord Naseer Ahmad stated that they are Muslims, believe Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be the last prophet and consider every Qadiani to be kafir, outside the pale of Islam. The complainant has played a drama to have a criminal case registered against us over false and baseless accusation of cropping his beard. He said this while addressing a well-attended press conference at the Chicha Watni Press Club. He was accompanied by his two sons, Muhamamd Ashraf and Nomi…

For Ahmadis, life is precarious in Pakistan; they do not know what is in store for them the next day, with such mullas and irresponsible press-correspondents around.

No room to breathe

Ahmadi website banned by PTA

Dawn.com; July 9, 2012:       “Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has banned a website by the name alislam.org which was controlled by the Ahmadiyya Community,” reported the daily The Nation, Lahore on July 7, 2012. The Nation mentioned that “the site was accused of blasphemy against the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Mutahida Ulema Board had demanded of the PTA to close down the site.” It is, however, significant that neither the PTA nor the Ulema Board has quoted an extract or even a sentence that is allegedly blasphemous.  Is it not pathetic that the party founded by a self-styled socialist, liberal and progressive leader, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which now carries the banner of the Shaheed-i-Jamhuriat, (Martyr for Democracy) Benazir Bhutto, has handed over the control of the basic freedom of information to a board of mullas in Pakistan.

            Three days later Ms. Huma Yusuf, a freelance journalist, wrote an article in the Dawn.com on this issue under the title: No room to breathe. A few extracts from this well written op-ed are reproduced below for perusal, although the article is worth reading in its entirety.

No room to breathe

July 9, 2012 by Huma Yusuf

IN an increasingly intolerant and violent Pakistan, diverse media platforms have offered members of religious minorities a safe outlet to network, share their perspectives, document abuses against them, and defend their rights.

The importance of these media platforms cannot be overstated, especially given that Pakistan’s religious minorities cannot always seek legal respite or resort to public protest owing to discriminatory laws and the ever-present threat of mob violence.

However, some minority media outlets are under threat. For example, last week, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) banned a website managed by members of the Ahmadi community. According to PTA officials the site was blocked because the Ahmadis are prohibited from promoting their religious views in public. This is not the first time the state has targeted an Ahmadi website: the PTA routinely bans thepersecution.org, a site that documents crimes committed against Ahmadis. These incidents demonstrate that the space for members of religious minorities to air their views and engage with mainstream discourse is shrinking.

Such crackdowns are especially egregious examples of state censorship given the proliferation of jihadi websites in Pakistani cyberspace. While in obtaining information about minority communities may pose a challenge, Pakistanis can easily access beheading videos, threatening press releases, hate speech and violence-inciting propaganda by the Pakistani Taliban, Sipah-i-Sahaba, Al Qaeda and dozens of other extremist organisations. Just last week, Abu Jundal told his Indian interrogators that Lashkar-e-Taiba maintains a team of “trained and educated” boys to manage websites, send emails and juggle web servers. It is no mystery why the PTA is reluctant to curtail the online presence of these groups.

Unfortunately, bans such as these are likely to make mainstream media outlets even more nervous about seeking minority viewpoints to balance news coverage about a community.

This should spark serious concerns amongst all Pakistanis because treatment meted out to minorities today could impact them tomorrow. Our country is already setting an unnerving record for blocking content on charges that it is blasphemous or offensive to Islam. …

At each such instance, human rights defenders and digital activists have demanded that the PTA specify the reasons why certain sites are blocked and publish a list of blocked websites. In response, the PTA abdicates responsibilities for bans, claiming that a shadowy and secretive inter-ministerial committee imposes them. The committee’s workings have repeatedly raised questions about who made them the guardians of the faith and on what criteria they deem content offensive to Islam and thus deserving of censorship.

Since answers have never been forthcoming, all Pakistanis should fear the day when their websites are arbitrarily deemed offensive and blocked. After all, in a country where sectarian strife is perpetually on the rise, the discourse of all communities is subject to charges of religious offence by members of rival religious groups or sects. If the PTA begins to ban websites and other media outlets on the basis of complaints issued by religious groups, then the basic rights of free speech and the freedom to profess religion could be denied to any number of sects, minority groups as well as those who champion secularism.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

huma.yusuf@gmail.com

Twitter: @humayusuf

A view on Ahmadi-killing

Lahore, March 13, 2012:       The Daily Times of Lahore published an article by Usman Ahmad, titled: VIEW: Ahmadi-killing. He wrote it after hearing the news of target-killing of two Ahmadis in Nawab Shah within the space of ten days. It is well-worded and moving, fit for archives. It is reproduced here: Usman’s article.

 

Moral free-fall of the leading vernacular daily

Lahore; July 22, 2012:           The daily Nawa-i-Waqt (Editor: Mr. Majeed Nizami) is the flag carrier of the vernacular right-wing press in Pakistan. It is consistent in its anti-Ahmadiyya editorial and reporting policy since long (although the senior Nizami, its former editor was an upright journalist of high standing), it discovered a new low in its op-ed section. On July 22, 2012 it published the first of two parts of an op-ed by Mr. Muhammad Asif Bhalli who gave it the title: Accursed person (Wajud Namasood): Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani. If the title is so outrageous, it should not be difficult to contemplate the sting of the text.

            Twenty-first century Islamists are queer people. They show extreme permissiveness while referring to others’ holy personages. This surely was not the way of the Seal of Prophets, peace and blessings of Allah be on him.

An Op-ed by Ms. Katrina Lantos Swett, the Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)

Capitol Hill, Washington DC; July 16, 2012:           Ms. Swett wrote an article in the Hill publication, with the following title:

US should pressure Nations to Rescind Anti-Ahmadiyya Laws

Her opening paragraph is:

 “On June 27, along with members of Congress and other guests, I heard a message of peace and freedom from the Ahmadiyya world leader, His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, at a Capitol Hill reception co-sponsored by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), of which I am chair, and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.”

            In this article, the writer mentioned the persecution suffered by Ahmadis in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc and proceeded to write the following at its end:

“Nonetheless, we who believe in peace and freedom must shine the spotlight on these sufferings.

 So what can we do?

            “First, we must realize that the same societies that violate the religious freedom of Ahmadiyya abuse the rights of others. As USCIRF has documented, where Ahmadiyya suffer, Hindus and Christians, Sikhs and Baha’is, Shi‘a and other Muslims, often are persecuted as well. Second, in order to protect the rights of all, including the Ahmadiyya, we who are in Washington must make religious freedom a truly compelling foreign policy priority, woven into every aspect of our relationships with other countries.

            “Finally, the United States should confront governments which target the Ahmadiyya. It should urge Pakistan to amend its constitution and rescind all anti-Ahmadiyya laws. It should encourage Indonesia to overturn its 2008 decree and all provincial bans against Ahmadiyya practice. It should press both governments to investigate acts of violence thoroughly and prosecute perpetrators vigorously.  And until Pakistan is serious about reform, USCIRF believes that it qualifies as a “country of particular concern” as a severe religious freedom abuser.

 “The rights of people everywhere to think as they please, believe or not believe as they wish, peacefully practice their beliefs, and express them publicly without fear or intimidation are inviolable. We are proud to stand with the Ahmadiyya community and proclaim together that these and other freedoms are the birthright of humanity.”

The full op-ed article is available at: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/238199-us-should-pressure-nations-to-rescind-anti-ahmadiyya-laws

The June 27, 2012 event she mentions in the opening lines of her op-ed can be viewed at:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9qCSbcstgk&feature=relmfu
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fV-TVfW0-0&feature=relmfu

Do Ahmadis deserve to live in Pakistan?

Opinion:         By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Lahore: The Friday Times of Lahore published on August 31, 2012 an op-ed by Yasser Latif Hamdani which frankly posed the question that is often implied in Pakistan’s treatment of its Ahmadi citizens, but is rarely put in as many words.

            Although this op-ed makes its point lucidly and effectively, if read in totality, (website: www.thefridaytimes.com) the space does not allow us full coverage; hence only a few extracts here:

Do Ahmadis deserve to live in Pakistan?

On 25 August, 2012 former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani attended the Khatm-e-Nabuwat Conference in Golra in Islamabad. Talking to reporters after the conference, the former prime minister said the mission of Pir Mehar Ali Shah, the patron saint of Golra, came to its fruition in 1974. It was a reference to the excommunication of Ahmadis by the Parliament. The community was declared non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment by the Pakistan People’s Party government in 1974. The PPP views the amendment as a feather in its cap and many of its first rank leaders are known to proudly state that their party did Islam a favour.

Ahmadi places of worship are routinely ransacked and vandalized not just by agitators but by the police and state law enforcement agencies as in the case of an Ahmadi place of worship in Kharian last month.

Leaders of the Anti-Ahmadiyya Movement openly state that Ahmadis do not deserve to live. One prominent activist of the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Lawyers Forum told this writer that “by the grace of God, Mirzais had been reduced to the level of chooras (… sweepers) and soon they will be cleaned up altogether.”

Inconvenient facts such as that the author of the Lahore Resolution was an Ahmadi or that Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate is an Ahmadi are swept under the carpet. Last month when the world celebrated the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle at CERN – in large part due to the standard model formulation of Ahmadi Nobel laureate Dr. Abdus Salam – Pakistan was completely silent.

Historians caution that the fetters imposed on Ahmadiyya community are reminiscent of the Nazi Nuremburg Laws and are certainly much worse than the Jim Crow Laws of the United States of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The growing violence and hate against Ahmadis along with the general decline of the Pakistani state is creating a situation very similar to Germany between the two World Wars of the last century, and many fear a brutal extermination of this community from Pakistan.

Ludicrous, dangerous interview

Lahore:           The daily The Express Tribune published an op-ed by the renowned columnist Kamran Shafi under the above title in its issue of August 30, 2012. Its extracts relevant to Ahmadis deserve to be placed here for information and record.

The last 15 days saw three quite ludicrous, dangerous interviews aired on our TV channels.

By Kamran Shafi

Published: August 30, 2012

The last 15 days saw three quite ludicrous, dangerous interviews aired on our TV channels, two of them on fake, ‘Dr’ Amir Liaquat’s show, one with Imran Khan and the other with the so-called only-father-of-our-bums Dr AQ Khan. The third was on ARY in which Kashif Abbasi interviewed General Hamid Gul, self-same Imran Khan’s mentor and guide.

But back to the ‘Dr’, who is that same person after whose programme, “Aalim Online”, two innocent Pakistanis were killed in Sindh. Dr. Abdul Mannan Siddiqui in Mirpurkhas on September 8, 2008 and on September 9, Seth Yousuf in Nawabshah.

Now this is the person on whose programme Imran Khan not only appeared but on which Dr Alvi issued a clarion call to the quite hateful Dr Amir Liaquat to join the PTI. I have to add that Imran Khan immediately echoed Alvi and also invited the man to join. Oh well.

On August 14, 2012, Dr AQ Khan, who exposed Pakistan to the opprobrium of the world by admitting on television that he was responsible for peddling nuclear know-how to several countries and who just very recently also accused a former Chief of Army Staff and another general of accepting bribes from North Korea through himself, also appeared on the ‘Dr’s show.

Let us leave his other rambling aside about how there were saints in his hometown, Bhopal, who could transport a person to Madina and then bring him right back to Bhopal after he had said his prayers by merely placing their hands on the person’s shoulder. Let us straightaway go to his peddling hate. Dr AQ also told us that Bhopal was famous for two other attributes. That it neither produced any traitors nor any Ahmadi. I ask you. And this on August 14!

If this is not hate speech that could also be used by the crazies to do harm to Ahmadi Pakistanis, what is? The Supreme Court has taken it upon itself to determine what is, and what is not vulgarity on television. Is this hate speech of AQ Khan’s not height of vulgarity. My Lords? Is his going public against a community that has done so much for Pakistan, who are proud Pakistanis albeit a minority, not utter vulgarity and worse? Even offensiveness and impropriety which are also other meaning of the word? Will you take suo motu action on this My Lords?

Ahmadis fight back – with letters

Lahore:           The Express Tribune, Lahore published the following story in its issue of November 2, 2012:

As death toll mounts, Ahmadis fight back – with letters

By Saba Imtiaz

Published: November 2, 2012

KARACHI: During a recent Supreme Court hearing in Karachi that was examining the progress made on its 2011 verdict on violence in the city, a police officer attempted to explain why over a dozen people had died the day before the hearing. “And this person was a Qadiani,” he said, referring to a victim.

There was no further explanation.

Nine Ahmadis have been killed in Karachi since January, a marked increase from recent years. The Ahmadiyya Jamaat has now written to government officials, including the president, prime minister, inspector-general of the Sindh police and the director general of the Rangers in Sindh, calling on them to take action against those responsible. The community believes that Ahmadis have been targeted for their faith.

The letter, authored by the community’s spokesperson and dated October 25, states:

“As I write to you, nine Ahmadis have lost their lives only in Karachi in recent past as a direct result of hate campaign and target killing because of their faith.”

“The signs and tactics of these attacks are the same and yet I regret to say that there has been no progress in apprehending the culprits. I am not alone in believing that we have been left by the state at the mercy of militants and miscreants who are thirsty for Ahmadi blood and there is little that is being done to provide Ahmadis security.”

The letter also tries to put these attacks in perspective. “The bigger and wider issue is increasing presence of hate filled material or wall chalking in the area that provides an open invitation to any miscreant to take matters into his hands,” it states.

It calls on the recipients to “take action and fulfill your duty to protect the life and property of all citizens without discrimination.”

Calls and messages to Sindh IG Police Fayyaz Leghari, Additional IG Iqbal Mehmood and the Sindh Additional Home Secretary Waseem Ahmed went unanswered. Waqar Mehdi, the adviser to the Sindh chief minister, said he had no knowledge of a letter being received. “If this is the case [that they have sent a letter] then they should send a copy to me and I’ll have a look at it,” he said.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/459601/as-death-toll-mounts-ahmadis-fight-back–with-letters/

Dr. A. Q. Khan’s fresh whack at the Ahmadiyya community

Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the infamous nuclear trafficker who has been called the Merchant of Menace and who admitted indulging in nuclear proliferation publicly some years ago, leaves no opportunity to hit the Ahmadiyya community. In a program on GEO TV with self-styled doctor, Amir Liaquat, Dr. Qadeer, who is from Bhopal, claimed two credits for Bhopal, 1) There has never been a traitor from Bhopal, 2) There has never been a ‘Qadiani’ from Bhopal. The mention of ‘traitor’ and ‘Qadiani’ in the same breath was apparently pre-planned. However, once again the Dr. was cheating his applauding audience.

Dr. Qadeer conveniently overlooked the fact that Mr. Abaidulla Aleem, a renowned poet born in Bhopal, was an Ahmadi. Also, Dr. Qadeer chose to forget that in 1947, at the critical juncture of the great Partition, the Nawab of Bhopal requested Chaudhry Sir Zafrullah Khan, an Ahmadi, to act his Advisor and entrusted him with the care of the state’s and his interest. Sixty-five years later Dr. Qadeer talks of traitors and Qadianis with reference to Bhopal!

Dr. Qadeer most probably suffers from jealousy against Dr. Abdus Salaam, the Ahmadi Nobel laureate. In fact, those who know nuclear physics, place the two in different leagues altogether. There is little to compare.

Forbidden faith (Ahmadiyyat)

Karachi; November 4, 2012:  The prestigious DAWN.COM posted in Breaking News, tagged this report in ‘Sunday sectarian special’ and titled it Forbidden faith. It is pointed, precise and well-timed. Extracts:

“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.

“As the country gears up for the general elections in 2013, those eligible for voting from the four-million Ahmadiyya community will not cast their votes. “We are Pakistanis, but we are separated and discriminated from the mainstream on the basis of religion,” says Saleemuddin, spokesperson of the community in Pakistan. “This is against the very spirit of democracy,” he adds.

“For the community at least, he states, the separate electorate imposed by General Ziaul Haq in 1985, remains despite the “erroneous impression” that Pakistan has shifted from separate to joint electorate.

“Zohra Yusaf, chairperson HRCP makes no bones, about accusing the Punjab government of complicity. “It is certainly guilty as it has given in to the demands by Ahmadi-haters many times – by breaking down minarets and not allowing them to hold religious meetings, etc.”

Dawn.com; November 4, 2012 by Zofeen Ebrahim

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