Persecution of Ahmadis

The Ahmadiyya sect of Islam has been subject to various forms of religious persecution and discrimination since the movement's inception in 1889.[1] The Ahmadiyya Muslim movement emerged from the Sunni tradition of Islam and its adherents believe in all the five pillars and articles of faith required of Muslims.[2] Ahmadis are considered non-Muslims by many mainstream Muslims since they consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the movement, to be the promised Mahdi and Messiah awaited by the Muslims.[3][4][5][6]

The Ahmadis are active translators of the Qur'an[7][8][9] and proselytizers for the faith.[10] However, in a number of countries, Ahmadis have faced strong resistance in many Muslim-majority nations. Ahmadis have been considered heretics and non-Muslim, and subjected to persecution and systematic, sometimes state-sanctioned, oppression.[6][11]

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and Ordinance XX declare Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and further deprive them of religious rights. Hundreds of Ahmadis were killed in the 1953 Lahore riots and the 1974 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots. The May 2010 Attacks on Ahmadi mosques, infamously known as the Lahore Massacre, resulted in the murder of 84 Ahmadis by suicide attack. The 1974 riots resulted in the largest number of killings of Ahmadis.

Pakistan

The Shahada, the basic creed of Islam and of Ahmadi Muslims being erased by Pakistani police

Approximately 2–5 million Ahmadis live in Pakistan, which has the largest population of Ahmadis in the world.[12] It is the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims as they do not consider Muhammad to be the final prophet;[13] and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments. In 1974, Pakistan's parliament adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims;[14] the country's constitution was amended to define a Muslim "as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad".[15] In 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, issued Ordinance XX.[16][17] The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent "anti-Islamic activities", forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to "pose as Muslims". This means that they are not allowed to profess the Islamic creed publicly or call their places of worship mosques.[18] Although a derogatory religious slur,[19] the terms 'Qadiani', 'Qadianism', 'Mirzai' and 'Mirzaian' are widely used in Pakistan to refer to Ahmadis and Qadiani is also the term used by the government in its constitution.[20]

Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Quran, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.[21] In applying for a passport or a national ID card, all Pakistanis are required to sign an oath declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an impostor prophet and all Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.[22] The word "Muslim" was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Abdus Salam, because he was an Ahmadi.[22]

As a result of the cultural implications of the laws and constitutional amendments regarding Ahmadis in Pakistan, persecution and hate-related incidents are constantly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many attacks led by various religious groups.[23] All religious seminaries and madrasas in Pakistan belonging to different sects of Islam have prescribed essential reading materials specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.[24]

For the five million Ahmadis,[25][26] religious persecution has been particularly severe and systematic in Pakistan, which is the only state to have officially declared that Ahmadis are non-Muslims.[13] Pakistani laws prohibit the Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims, and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, Acts and constitutional amendments.[27] When applying for a Pakistani passport, Pakistanis are required to declare that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was an impostor prophet and his followers are non-Muslims.[28]

As a result, persecution and hate-related incidents are regularly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many violent attacks by various religious groups in Pakistan.[29] Madrasahs of all sects of Islam in Pakistan prescribe reading materials for their students specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.[30]

In a recent survey, students from many private schools of Pakistan expressed their opinions on religious tolerance in the country. The figures assembled in the study reflect that even among the educated classes of Pakistan, Ahmadis are considered the least deserving minority in terms of equal opportunities and civil rights.The teachers from these elite schools showed lower levels of tolerance towards Ahmadis than their pupils.[31]

Another example is Abdus Salam, the only recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics who identified as a Muslim. For his mere allegiance to the Ahmadiyya sect, he had been ignored and excommunicated. There are no monuments or universities named after him. The word "Muslim" has been erased from his grave stone.[32]

1953

In 1953 at the instigation of religious parties, anti-Ahmadiyya riots erupted in Pakistan, killing scores of Ahmadi Muslims and destroying their properties. There was severe agitations against the Ahmadis, including street protests, political rallies, and inflammatory articles. These agitations led to 200 Ahmadi deaths. Consequently, Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad implemented martial law and dismissed Pakistan's Federal Cabinet.[33]

1974 riots and constitutional amendment

In 1974, a violent campaign, led mainly by the Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam and Jamaat-e-Islami, began against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan, on the pretext of a clash between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis at the railway station of Rabwah. This campaign resulted in several Ahmadi casualties and destruction of Ahmadiyya property, including the desecration of mosques and graves.

As a result of pressure from this agitation, legislation and constitutional changes were enacted to criminalise the religious practises of Ahmadis by preventing them from claiming they are Muslim or from "behaving" as Muslims. These changes primarily came about due to the pressure of the Saudi King at the time, King Faisal bin As-Saud, according to Dr Mubashar Hassan, Prime Minister Bhutto's close confidant at the time. Pakistan's parliament adopted a law that declares Ahmadis non-Muslims. The country's constitution was amended to define a Muslim "...as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad."[34][35]

Ordinance XX of 1984

On 26 April 1984, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the President of Pakistan, issued the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance XX,[36] which effectively prohibited Ahmadis from preaching or professing their beliefs.[37][38][39] The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent "anti-Islamic activities", forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to "pose as Muslims." This means that they are not allowed to profess the Islamic creed publicly or call their places of worship mosques. Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Qur'an, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.[21] Ordinance XX and the 1974 amendment to the constitution effectively gave the state the exclusive right to determine the meaning of the term "Muslim" within Pakistan.

Many Ahmadis were arrested within days of the promulgation of this ordinance, and it gave way for widespread sanctioned as well as non-sanctioned persecution.

In 1986 it was supplemented by a new blasphemy provision[40] also applied to Ahmadis.[41]

Shab Qadar incident

The Shab Qadar incident was a public stoning of two members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the town of Shab Qadar, in the North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan in April 1995.[42] Dr. Rashid Ahmad and his son-in law, Riaz Ahmad Khan, were attacked as they were about to attend a court hearing in Shab Qadar. As they entered the court premises, a violent mob incited by local clerics attacked the men with sticks and stones. Riaz Khan was stoned to death and his dead body stripped and dragged through the town on a rope. Dr. Rashid Ahmad was taken to a hospital in Peshawar with serious injuries. A third Ahmadi, advocate Bashir Ahmad, escaped unhurt.[43] This murder took place in front of the police. Riaz Khan even asked a police officer for help, but instead of helping, the officer pushed him away.[44] According to Amnesty International, the police "stood and watched," and "...later pleaded that they could not have intervened in a situation like that." No one was detained or criminally charged for the killing.

The victims—senior Ahmadiyya community members from Peshawar—had come from the provincial capital to file a bail application for another Ahmadi Muslim, Daulat Khan. Daulat Khan had been harassed following his conversion to the sect. Local Muslim clergy reportedly called for his death. Daulat Khan had been arrested and imprisoned on 5 April 1995 under sections 107 (abetment) and 151 (disturbing the peace by joining in unlawful assembly) of the Penal Code. After the lynching of Rashid Ahmad and Riaz Ahmad Khan, Daulat Khan remained in custody and was further charged with posing as a Muslim and preaching Ahmadiyyat (section 298 C of the Penal Code) and insulting the religious sentiments of Muslims (section 295 A).[42]

2000

On 30 October 2000, gunmen opened fire at an Ahmadiyya prayer meeting in the Pakistani province of Punjab, killing at least five worshippers and wounding another seven.[45]

2005


In a 2005 survey in Pakistan, pupils in private schools of Pakistan expressed their opinions on religious tolerance in the country. The figures assembled in the study reflect that even in the educated classes of Pakistan, Ahmadis are considered to be the least deserving minority in terms of equal opportunities and civil rights. In the same study, the teachers in these elite schools showed an even lower amount of tolerance towards Ahmadis than their pupils.[46] Ahmadis are harassed by certain schools, universities and teachers in Pakistan's Punjab province. The harassment includes social boycott, expulsions, threats and violence against Ahmadi students by extremist students, teachers and principals of the majority sect.[47]

On 7 October 2005, masked gunmen with Kalashnikov rifles stormed a mosque belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in a village called Mong in District Mandi Bahauddin, shooting dead eight people and wounding 14.[48]

2008

Two prominent members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were murdered on 8 and 9 September 2008 after a program by Aamir Liaquat Hussain provoking people to kill Ahmadis was aired on a prominent Pakistani television channel Geo TV a day earlier on 7 September.[49][50]

2009

During the year 2009, eleven Ahmadis were killed, while numerous others became victims of attempted killings, according to a report titled "Persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan during the year 2009" published by Nazarat Umoor-e-Aama Sadr Anjuman Ahmadia Pakistan. The report claimed that the actions of "Ahmadi opponents" had been encouraged largely by the prejudiced attitude of the authorities, and alleged that the federal government had been in denial of the human rights and religious freedom of the Ahmadis, especially the governments of Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.[51]

2010

28 May 2010 saw the worst single incident of violence against Ahmadis to date (see May 2010 attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore), when several members of an extremist religious group (allegedly Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab) entered two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore and opened fire; three of them later detonated themselves. In total, the attacks claimed the lives of 86 people and injured well over 100.[52] The members were gathered in the mosques attending Friday services.[53] In response to the attacks, Pakistan minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti visited the Ahmadi community.[citation needed]

April

Around 10 pm on 1 April 2010, three Ahmadis were returning home in their vehicle from their jewellery and cloth shops situated in Rail Bazaar in Faisalabad. As their car approached the Canal Road near Faisal Hospital, four or five unidentified militants in a white car ambushed them. The three Ahmadis were seriously injured when the men opened fire at them. The attackers managed to flee from the scene. The three men died before they reached the hospital.[54]

May Lahore attacks

On 28 May 2010, two mosques in Lahore belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were attacked by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan Punjab Wing (Punjabi Taliban). The attacks were carried out nearly simultaneously at Mosque Darul Al Zikr, Garhi Shahu and Mosque Bait Al Noor Lahore Model Town, 15 km apart. More than 90 people were killed and 108 were injured in the incident. One attacker was killed; another was captured by worshipers.[55] Three days later militants attacked the Intensive Care Unit of Lahore's Jinnah Hospital, where victims and one of the alleged attackers were under treatment. Twelve people, mostly police officers and hospital staff, were killed in the shootout. The assailants escaped.[56] The Pakistani government did nothing to prevent this; as of yet they have not set up protection for Ahamdis.[57] As of 28 May 2013 the two attackers captured had not been prosecuted, but early in 2015 courts took up the case and proceeded with sentencing.[55][58][59]

On 31 May 2010, an Ahmadi was stabbed to death and his son seriously injured when an activist climbed the wall of their house with a dagger and attacked them. The son later died in hospital from serious wounds. The attacker escaped. Residents say that the assailant threatened to not leave any Ahmadi alive after having found motivation to kill them through a sermon given by a local sunni cleric.[60]

2011

On 7 September 2011, the mainstream Urdu newspaper Daily Jang published a special edition against Ahmadis.[61]

Throughout the year, Ahmadi students and teachers in the Pakistan's Punjab province have been systematically persecuted by schools and universities. The harassment has included social boycott, expulsions, threats and violence by students, teachers and principals of the Muslim majority sect.[47]

In education

Ahmadi students faced discrimination in Pakistan in 2011 because of their faith.[47]

2012

In Faisalabad, Quranic verses were removed from Ahmadi graves by the police.[62]

3 December 2012, In Lahore over 100 tombstones at an Ahmadiyya graveyard in Lahore were desecrated in the wee hours of Monday by masked gunmen, who specifically targeted graves with Islamic inscriptions. They proclaimed themselves members of a banned organisation, and said the Ahmadiyyas had no right to use Quranic verses on their gravestones, as they "are not Muslims."[63][64] The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the destruction of over 100 tombstones at an Ahmadi graveyard on Monday and demanded the arrests of those responsible.[65]

Anti-Ahmadiyys sentiment in media

Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic extremism existed in the Pakistani media, causing them to start a hate campaign against Ahmadis.[66]

2013

7 January 2013: Four Ahmadi employees of Black Arrow Printing Press accused of publishing allegedly blasphemous books, were arrested as they loaded a small truck with thousands of books and CDs.[67] On 13 February, an additional district and sessions judge on Tuesday rejected an application for after-arrest bail by four men accused of publishing allegedly blasphemous books about the Ahmadi faith.

26 March 2013: Local clerics attacked a house belonging to an Ahmadi family in the Shamsabad, a village of Kasur district of Punjab on Tuesday and subjected the family members to violence allegedly over their religious belief.[68] The five members of Mansoor's family tried to take refuge in a room but the mob broke into the room as well. Mansoor was severely tortured, after which he lost consciousness, while his wife and his 70-year-old uncle were also beaten. Police personnel were reportedly present at the spot but took no action against the mob.[68]

International Human Rights Commission Punjab Director General Munawar Ali Shahid said, "Several people here have told me that the Ahmadis had been socially boycotted for long. Police have taken no action to stop violence against them.".[69]

30 April 2013: In Lahore, Gulshan-i-Ravi police arrested seven members of the Ahmadi community on Monday without an FIR, after close to 300 people protested in front of what was described as a place of worship of the community. A woman and her 10-year-old son were also arrested No, although no female members of the police accompanied them.[70]

8 May 2013: Members of the Khatm-e-Nabuwat Lawyers Forum (KNLF) (anti-Ahmadi activists) and police dragged five members of the Ahmadi community from an anti-terrorist court to a police station and detained them for several hours.[71]

2014

May 2014: American-Canadian Doctor Mehdi Ali Qamar, was gunned down in Rabwah while visiting Punjab, Pakistan to help train local doctors.[72][73] 100 Ahmadiyas took refuge in China after their lives were in danger in Pakistan.[74]

  • Three members of the same family including one woman and two minors were killed and nine other people were injured when an angry mob set a house on fire in Arafat Colony, Gujranwala.[75]

2015

2015 Jhelum attacks
Pakistan - Punjab - Jhelum.svg
Jhelum District, Pakistan
LocationJhelum, Punjab, Pakistan
Date20-21 November 2015
Attack type
Arson
Deaths0

On the Friday evening of 20 November 2015, a large mob, in an alleged case of blasphemy, torched down a chipboard factory, in Jhelum, Punjab, Pakistan. Ahmadi Muslim employees were accused of allegedly desecrating the Quran. The following day, rioters gathered in Kala Gujran, a town bordering Jhelum, and set ablaze an Ahmadiyya mosque and a number of homes belonging to Ahmadi Muslims. Although no casualties have been reported, Ahmadi Muslims have been arrested, against whom a blasphemy case has been registered.[76][77]

2016

A mob of around 1,000 people besieged an Ahmadi place of worship in Chakwal and had to be dispersed by police. Deputy Commissioner Chakwal Mahmood Javed Bhatti said the mob hurled stones and bricks at the place of worship before storming the building, adding that gunmen opened fire on Ahmadis in the area. The DC said that police dispersed the crowd and secured the building.[78]

2017

In an address to the National Assembly, Captain Safdar Awan, the son-in-law of deposed PM Nawaz Sharif, demanded strict restrictions against Ahmadis, calling for complete curbs on Ahmadis in government, army, and private employment. He similarly questioned whether Ahmadis could be loyal to Pakistan.[79] On 12 October 2017, 3 Ahmadis were sentenced to death for blasphemy after tearing down posters that allegedly contained anti-Ahmadi slogans, though prosecutors argued the posters carried religious significance.[80]

On 20 October, an anti-Ahmadi rally attracted 10,000 people where Ahmadis were denounced as "infidels" and "enemies of the state". After a row regarding barriers to Ahmadi's participation in elections, the Pakistani government took out ads reaffirming a religious oath requiring elected officials to vow that they do not follow anyone claiming to be a prophet after Mohammad and "nor do I belong to the Qadiani group", using a common derogatory term for Ahmadis.[81]

2018

On 6 February 2018, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly (AJK-LA) and Kashmir Council approved an amendment declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims.[82]

On 8 March 2018, Islamabad's High Court launched a judgement against Ahmadi Muslims and minorities which resulted in four major incidents against Ahmadis in Pakistan. The High Court ordered all citizens apply for any type of government job to declare their religious beliefs. Western human rights organisation have stated that this order is an attack on persecuted minorities in Pakistan, as well as a method to intercept Ahmadi politicians.[83]

On 24 May 2018 a mob of several hundred people in Sialkot, Pakistan attacked and demolished a historic and culturally significant 100-year-old Ahmadi mosque.[84] Reports of collusion between the mob and local government officials were published, but police denied such accusations. A video on social media showed a crowd cheering on a local cleric who stated "I want to thank the Sialkot administration, the DPO (District Police Officer), DC (District Commissioner), the TMA (Town Municipal Corporation), from the bottom of my heart". The US, UK and international community strongly condemned this attack.[85][86]

On 27 June 2018, in a hate crime linked to the March 8 High Court judgement, an Ahmadi was killed in Nishtar Colony, Lahore.[87]

On 9 July 2018, five Ahmadi Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan were shot in two incidents of hate crime. Three were injured and two were killed. In the first attack, an Ahmadi couple were attacked in their home, the wife was shot in the thigh by attackers. In the second attack, Mubeen Ahmed, 20, was killed by robbers entering his office, and two colleagues were injured.[88]

Persecution of Ahmadi students

Ahmadi students have faced extremist persecutions because of their faith in most popular universities and colleges of Pakistan including University of Sargodha.[89]