Ahmadis persecuted in Pakistan

In 1974, Ahmadi Muslims were declared a non-Muslim minority by the Pakistani parliament. Since then, it has become much harder for them to perform their religious duties, writes Mohammad Luqman

The pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, is one of the central elements of Islamic religious practice. At the end of the high Islamic holiday, believers offer animal sacrifices in the Abrahamic tradition, expressing their intention to live a life pleasing to God. This tradition is an integral part of all Muslim cultures in the world and especially in Southeast Asia.

Shortly before the Feast of Sacrifice on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah (the month of pilgrimage), believers buy sheep and goats at animal markets. In many cases, the animals are kept in the courtyards of houses until they are slaughtered on Eid-ul-Adha or ‘Great Eid’ — as the feast day is colloquially known in Pakistan.

A third of the meat is distributed to the poor and needy. In Pakistan, the animals are also adorned with colourful decorations.

Fridge checks

FOR the Ahmadi Muslim minority, however, preparations for the festival are conducted under a cloud. For some years now, they have been banned from participating in the high Islamic holiday and offering animal sacrifices under threat of severe punishment.

This can sometimes reach alarming proportions. Last year, police patrols were sent through the town of Rabwah, a small town in Punjab province with a predominantly Ahmadi population, to prevent the slaughter of animals by Ahmadis.

In some cases, animal sacrifices were confiscated from homes and in other cases meat was removed from refrigerators. The authorities explained that even meat from animals that had already been sacrificed could not be consumed, as it would violate the ban.

Incited by radical preachers

RADICAL preachers are particularly aggressive in their hate speech towards the persecuted minority before such holidays. A few days ago, two Ahmadi Muslims were shot dead in broad daylight by a young madrassa student following such incitement. When arrested, the perpetrator claimed he had killed the two Ahmadis under the influence of such hate speech.

On 10 June, the local administration of Chakwal district arrested three Ahmadis on the grounds that they were in danger of slaughtering sacrificial animals on Eid. In other cases, Ahmadis were forced to submit written statements that they would not participate in the Eid celebrations. This year, the police were again on the hunt for animal sacrifices by Ahmadis.

In the city of Daska, an Ahmadi was arrested because he was suspected of having bought a sacrificial animal. What seems like a joke to many is the day-to-day persecution of the Ahmadiyya minority. This happens despite the fact that the Supreme Court, in a groundbreaking judgement by Pakistani standards in 2022, clearly stated that Ahmadis are not prohibited from performing their religious duties within their ‘four walls’ and places of worship.

Local authorities follow own interpretation of law

LOCAL officials pay little heed to such decisions by the Supreme Court. They usually enforce their own interpretation of the law, even if it contradicts court judgements. This pattern also includes the recent increase in attacks on Ahmadi mosques and their cemeteries.

In 2023 alone, over 42 mosques belonging to the minority were destroyed or attacked. This year has seen the repeated destruction of domes and minarets of Ahmadi places of worship.

Most of these attacks carried out by local officials are attributed to violations of the 1984 Anti-Ahmadiyya Law, despite the fact that the legislation does not impose any restrictions on the architectural design of Ahmadi mosques.

50 years of anti-Ahmadiyya legislation

The new government under prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, like previous governments, tacitly accepts such offences. Hatred against the Ahmadi minority is widespread in all sections of society. This year, Pakistan reached another sad milestone: for the past 50 years, the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims has been sanctioned by the state.

In 1974, under pressure from religious parties, the Pakistani parliament declared the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority against their will, thereby initiating state discrimination and persecution of Ahmadis. Ten years later, based on the parliamentary decision, military dictator Mohammed Zia ul Haq (who ruled from 1977 to 1988) passed Ordinance XX, an order that criminalises practically every religious act by an Ahmadi.

Since then, human rights organisations have regularly drawn attention to the catastrophic human rights situation of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Several hundred Ahmadis have been killed and thousands sued or imprisoned for blasphemy since 1984.

Many have fled the country to escape state and social reprisals. In the 2017 census, it became clear that the number of Ahmadis in Pakistan fell by 37 per cent between 1998 and 2017. Restrictions, discrimination and persecution for over 50 years have traumatised an entire generation of Ahmadis and there is little prospect of any improvement.

The original post can be read HERE.

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