Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Pakistan, some religious "scholars" are calling for the persecution of a religious minority...

by Salman Hameed

It is easy to target a minority. History, unfortunately, is full of such examples. We are seeing one of the extreme cases unfolding in Pakistan. Just recently, a bunch of religious "scholars" got together to celebrate the 39th anniversary of the second amendment to Pakistan's constitution - the amendment that officially declared Ahmadis non-Muslims. There once was a time, when an imam or an a'lim was expected to talk about compassion, charity, and other actions that could potentially help fellow human beings. But not today - at least not the ones that were gathered in Lahore. The "scholars" that were celebrating the second amendment primarily offered provincialism, scorn,  and hate. It is a shame that their interpretation of religion has left them with this sad and tragic courses of actions. But they are also being egged on by a majority of Pakistanis (see the Pew survey results below).

It is fantastic that Express Tribune has provided the quotes from this "alim". Here is a sampling:
Several clerics called for further persecution of the Ahmadi community at conferences held on Saturday night to mark the 39th anniversary of the passage of the Second Amendment, which declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.
The speakers branded Ahmadis enemies of Pakistan, called for their social and economic boycott, and demanded that they be banned from taking up any government or military jobs.
 For the actual quotes, lets start with head of the Moon-sighting committee:
At the Markazi Khatm-i-Nabuwat Conference in Johar Town, Ruet-i-Halal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneebur Rehman said that he and his followers were prepared to make sacrifices for Khatm-i-Nabuwat. He alleged that Ahmadis were involved in “suspicious activities” and “serious measures” were needed against them. 
Dr Amir Liaqat Hussain, of Geo TV fame, defended Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. He said that the Ummah needed to unite in support of the laws. He said that they would not allow any amendment to the laws. 
Maulana Muhammad Azam Naeemi said there was a need to mobilise the common man against Ahmadis. Maulana Raghib Hussain Naeemi termed Ahmadis and their leaders “stooges of the West”.
Oh - and we haven't even gotten to the real vile comments yet. And again, I should remind you that these are folks who are representing some form of religious organization or, in some unfortunate cases, are religious celebrities. Here are some more highlights:
Pir Muhibullah Noori, caretaker of Baseerpur, said that Ahmadis should be banished from Pakistan. He told the audience that if they truly loved the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), they would not let Ahmadis live their lives freely. 
Allama Raza-i-Mustafa said Ahmadis should be chased till death.
So the love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) translates into not letting Ahmadis live lives freely! And if "Allama" holds any meaning, the latter is openly calling for the killing of Ahmadis (a genocide?)! Note that this is being reported in a mainstream newspaper.

And here is a retired judge:
Justice (retired) Mian Nazeer Akhtar said that the time for speeches against Ahmadis was over and it was now time to do something practical. He said everyone should play their role against Ahmadis to tighten the noose around them. 
The participants in the conference passed a resolution demanding a ban on Ahmadi publications and legal action against their publishers; the removal of all Ahmadis from government jobs; government-sponsored celebrations of September 7 at a national level; and for the introduction of a new oath of office for holders of important posts affirming that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last prophet.
I forgot to mention that all of the above was from just one of the gatherings. Here is a sampling from another one:
The 26th annual International Khatm-i-Nabuwat Conference, organised by the International Khatm-i-Nabuwat Movement, was held in Chenab Nagar, whose population is mostly Ahmadi. 
The speakers at the conference made derogatory remarks about Jamaat-i-Ahmadia leaders and blamed them for terrorism in Pakistan. 
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI) Secretary Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi said it was time to pounce on Ahmadis. He called them apostates and said that they deserved “extreme steps”.
Allama Muhammad Younas Hasan said that a “massive search operation” should be launched across the country to identify all of them. He said that he and his followers were willing to make “any sacrifice” for their cause. He said all sects of Islam were united in their opposition to Ahmadis. He said that Muslims should boycott Ahmadis socially and economically to make it harder for them to live in Pakistan. 
Maulana Qari Shabbir Ahmed Usmani said that the struggle against Ahmadis would continue “till its logical end”. He said all Ahmadis and their leaders should convert in order to gain Allah’s blessings. 
Maulana Asadullah Farooq demanded a ban on Ahmadis joining the armed forces as they were “traitors”.
Read the full article here. This is not just shameful, but here we are looking at the calls for severe persecution and extermination of a group based on their religious identity. We should not be witnessing something like this in the 21st century.

Pew also looked at the views of Pakistanis on Ahmadis. Here is what they found:


Now Pew didn't ask the question, but I'm wondering what fraction of the 66% would go along with the calls for persecution of Ahmadis. Perhaps, it is good that the Pew survey didn't ask that question as I fear the numbers would be too depressing.

But they did find that there is widespread support for Pakistan's Blasphemy law, which has been used to persecute minorities on so many occasions:
The poll also found that a majority of Pakistani Muslims support the country’s blasphemy laws, which predate Pakistan’s independence in 1947 but have since been expanded. The laws, which carry a potential death sentence for insulting Islam, have been frequently invoked against Ahmadis and other religious minorities in Pakistan; although formal criminal prosecutions are rare, social discrimination and harassment of Ahmadis is widespread. Fully 75% of Pakistani Muslims say blasphemy laws are necessary to protect Islam in their country, while 6% say blasphemy laws unfairly target minority communities, and 19% express no opinion on the issue.
Read the Pew report here.

5 comments:

Zakintosh said...

Thanks for posting this here, Salman. It seems so odd to live in a country where every day we have similar incidents. Apart from the Ahmadis - who suffer under the worst law here - we have Shias getting killed, Agha Khani Jamaat Khaanas attacked. It's terrible. I hope someone will come and put a stop to this, though it seems unlikely with PML-N & PTI "negotiating" with the Taliban.

Salman Hameed said...

Hi Zak,

So glad to hear from you!!

And yes, the targeting of all sorts of minorities is just so tragic and destructive for the society. The targeting shia doctors (and others) has been going on since the 80s.

Akbar said...

I don't want to ruin the spirit of this article sir. But I just wish to run a few numbers here. Out of over 40,000 victims of terrorism in Pakistan in over a decade lately, number of Shias killed is around 5000, and the number of Ahmadi victims is whopping 100 and a little over. The rest of almost 35,000 is of course insignificant Sunni scum. While every life is important, it is clear that some lives are 'importanter'. (Rest assured, I am neither Shia nor Sunni :-) )

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Faraz said...

It is not understandable why minorities feel insecure under a religious government.They should remember that Islamic government can better look after them.