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Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslim community faces persecution, hate crime: Report

In Pakistan, Ahmadis are forbidden from calling themselves Muslims or using Islamic symbols in their religious practices.

Pakistan’s persecuted Ahmadi minority released an annual report on Saturday that illustrated how members of the religious sect are consistently targeted by extremists and discriminated against by the state.

“Under pressure from religious extremists, the Ahmadis were denied registration in joint electoral lists,” community leaders said in a statement that accompanied the “persecution report”.

They added, “The preparation of separate electoral lists being prepared specifically for the Ahmadis in Pakistan is the worst kind of discrimination.”

The report comes ahead of the general elections due to be held in a few months. The community has consistently boycotted elections to reserved seats for religious minorities.

The report said 77 Ahmadis were booked under discriminatory religious laws in 2017, with nine still in prison “on faith-related allegations”, while four Ahmadis were murdered in hate crimes across Pakistan.

A separate report on Pakistan’s media listed 3,936 news reports and 532 editorial pieces from the Urdu language media that contained “hate propaganda” against Ahmadis.

“There is need for the government in Pakistan to take formidable steps to remove religious discrimination from the country and thus put an end to sectarianism and biased attitudes of the population,” community spokesman Saleemuddin said.

Ahmadis are forbidden from calling themselves Muslims or using Islamic symbols in their religious practices. They face discrimination and violence over accusations that their faith insults Islam. The community leaders said open vitriol and calls for violence against the sect intensified in 2017.

A Pakistani court ruled last month that all citizens must declare their religion when applying for identity documents, a move rights advocates say is another blow for persecuted minority communities, particularly members of the Ahmadi sect.

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