Religious persecution in Pakistan

By Nasim RehmatullahNational Vice President Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA Last week, Pakistani terrorists committed unprecedented acts of brutality against the … Continued

By Nasim Rehmatullah
National Vice President
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA

Last week, Pakistani terrorists committed unprecedented acts of brutality against the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Equipped with semi-automatic weaponry, grenades, suicide vests and ball bearings, they savagely attacked about 3,000 Ahmadiyya Muslims gathered at two mosques for Friday prayers. In the end, nearly 100 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were brutally murdered. In the following days, these terrorists have murdered at least 15 more members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in homes and hospitals.

As these events unfold, the Pakistani Government is blatantly incompetent and helpless because of laws the Pakistani government implemented in 1974 and 1984. As National Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, this shocking news shook me to my core. I am one of those who emigrated from Pakistan decades ago to escape the deadly grip of Pakistans infamous anti-blasphemy laws against Christians, Jews and those who the government has labeled non-Muslim. Those very same laws remarkably still in full force and effect today have now dealt their most devastating blow to Pakistans religious minorities. Indeed, last week’s attacks rank among the worst single atrocities ever leveled against a minority religious community.

What drove these mad men to murder men, women and children and injure hundreds more? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani is the messiah whom the Prophet Muhammad foretold would appear. Its members believe that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstate morality, justice and peace. As part of its effort to revive Islam, members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community actively spread Ahmads teachings of moderation and restraint. Pakistani government and terror groups, like the majority of the Muslim world, consider the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to be non-Muslim. This ideological divide is what has fueled an unrelenting terror campaign against its members.

Nowhere is the terror campaign more active than in Pakistan. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has approximately four million members living in Pakistan. For over six decades, this community has endured senseless persecution at the hands of religious extremists who have government support its mosques burned, its graves desecrated, indeed its very existence criminalized. Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community profess to be Muslims, but their belief is irrelevant under the law. The Second Amendment to Pakistans Constitution, passed in 1974, explicitly deprives them of their Muslim identity. Moreover, Pakistans anti-blasphemy criminal ordinances explicitly target the activities of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Specifically, Ordinance XX, passed in 1984, prohibits its members from publicly declaring their faith, propagating their faith, building mosques or making the call for Muslim prayers. In short, virtually any public act of worship or devotion by a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community can be treated as a criminal offense punishable by fine, imprisonment or death.

Emboldened by these anti-blasphemy laws, religious extremists have systematically targeted this community, as well as other religious minorities, including Christians and Jews. Just last week, another militant terrorist group attacked a church in Karachi, and this trend continues. If attacks against all religious minorities continue to go ignored, militants will continue to expand the scope of their attacks. This is how terror plots have moved outside of Pakistan’s borders and onto American soil. To protect the American people from becoming victims of terrorists, the power to persecute must be taken away from extremists.

Redressing the tragic plight of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community should be in America’s best interest. Indeed, America is one of the largest investors in Pakistan’s future. It is firmly committed to assist Pakistan to combat extremism, violence and lawlessness within its borders. If Pakistan does not successfully defeat those extremists who aim to uproot democracy and terrorize minorities, America, too, can face a grave security threat. But the battle against Pakistan’s extremists cannot be won unless all levels of government in Pakistan scrutinize and reform the laws and policies that give ammunition to these extremists. It is simply not enough to apprehend and uproot extreme groups like the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – who take credit for yesterday’s attack – without first addressing the root problem. America must push Pakistans Parliament to repeal the anti-blasphemy laws in order to dismantle the extremist apparatus that endangers the world. America must not be misled by Pakistan’s claim that democracy and freedom of religion exists. America must promote its own security by addressing the root cause of the problem of terrorism in Pakistan.

Nasim Rehmatullah is the National Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA – the oldest Muslim Organization in the U.S.

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  • imran2u

    The atrocious act of targeting the Ahmadi community in Pakistan is condemnable. I also agree that the blasphemy laws need to be repealed. However, the author has not been objective in this article in the sense that over the years these terrorist acts have taken the lives of Pakistanis regardless of their religious affiliation. From attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team to targeting of army head quarters to bombing of shopping areas the terrorist have shown that they are not prejudiced when it comes to killing innocent people. Infact the majority of the people killed have been sunni muslims who make up the largest religious group in Pakistan. By giving this article a religious and a political tinge, the author has lost all objectivity. Pakistan needs the support of rest of the world; what it does not need is finger pointing and people looking to even scores when the situation in that part of the world is so dire.

  • nazimtableegh

    @ Imran2u: the difference is that when the sunis kill 2 shias, in response the shias kill 4 sunis. When the salafis kill 4 bhralvis the baralvis kill 8 salafis …., there exists a mutual animosity and vengeance amongst these sects. The Ahmadi Muslims never kill anyone nor bother anyone, even their motto is “Love for All, hatred for none” they live by it, these Muslims are killed solely for the sake of their beliefs, for claiming that they are Muslims. The author is quite right in saying that there is a difference here, for the past 50 years oppression and massacre of Ahmadi Muslims has been institutionalized in Pakistan. People jump at the mere mention of the 50 years of the tragic Palestinian oppression yet fail to see the injustice in their own back yards, which has continued for an equal amount of time. This is the height of hypocrisy. In Pakistan rallies are held almost monthly, which are attended by tens of thousands of people, where it is openly proclaimed that Ahamdi Muslims are “wajib ul qatal” (should be killed) people are encouraged to do so and they are told how meritorious such an act is. In these rallies posters are published, leaflets are handed out, resolutions are drawn, Ahamdi Muslims are beaten, robbed and abused. Yet the government does absolutely nothing, these actions are state sanctioned. This is the height of injustice. So called religious scholars get on national tv channels and openly proclaim that Ahmadi Muslims should be killed. When these events happen the same cowardly, hypocritical individuals get on TV and condemn these atrocities. These people are not looked upon as terrorists but as “great scholars of Islam” they are followed by and adhered to by millions of people. Is it in fact a minority of extremists or some fringe group we are talking about here? or state sanction, institutionalized, persecution and genocide of an entire group of people? Is any other group in Pakistan being has been and is being treated in this way? the answer is NO! clearly there is a huge difference here.

  • ijattala

    The readers would have been better served if IMRAN2U was even a slight-bit informed about the uniqueness of the Ahmadi situation before he decided to chime in. Let me show what objectivity IMRAN2U is really referring to: The fact ignored is that Ahmadiyyas persecution is sanctioned by many laws in Pakistan. The fact ignored is that just about every two-penny Mullah, Sunni or not, have issued a fatwa for the killing of Ahmadis. The fact ignored is that your young ones are trained to hate Ahmadis from their childhood. (Read Sana Sleem’s ‘A muted Response to minority killings’ essay in todays Dawn (Pakistan) or cross-posted at ahmadiyyatimes.com.Now, the Sunni are also being killed by terrorists. Agreed. BUT they are not being killed for their faith. Show me a single sunni who was killed because he or she wanted to say salat, or say salam-o-alaykum, or invoke blessing on the Holy Prophet (PBUH). They are killed for a simple reason; Sunnis are a party to the conflicts in those lands. They have supported terrorism from get go. And Now some factions of the same terrorists-at-large have turned against them. Look it up! The Ahmadis have never been a party to any of the Suuni jihadi ideals. If you want to know how far away Ahmadis are from the Sunni notions of jihad, I suggest that IMRAN2U should visit http://www.alislam.org and look up the subject of Jihad in Islam.

  • nazimtableegh

    please refer to alislam.org for the true Islamic principals of peace, love and justice that are adhered to by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

  • SalmaAhmad

    To Imran2u:

  • i-me-my

    One look at the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistani Constitution (Zero SECULAR!), tells the world includes those appearing inside Pakistan, For the first time, the Constitution of Pakistan gave definition of a Muslim which states: ‘Muslim’ means a person who believes in the unity and oneness of Allah, in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and does not believe in, or recognise as a prophet or religious reformer, any person who claimed or claims to be a prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad.” [1].Example: “.. the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone””Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives ….. accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah [of Muhammad & Angel]”. It’s best to see it at:This means that PAKISTAN (must give-up it’s Sunni-Nuclear-Bomb Enriched (Uranium) Material to the 1st 5 Members of the U.N. Security Council via IAEA. Else, there will surely be another Atom Bomb(s) dropped Soon, soon, very soon.PS: People don’t have to believe in any religion or any god to see this Inevitability coming. When Nations poses WMD they will use it. Especially those Nations who have a God/Allah behind them and or some Prophet, as their promoter of such via self serving [religious-based] Constitutions, whom wrongly think it satisfies Secular-Constitutional and Secular U.N. Membership Requirements. As of the Near future; else Armageddon will come; Like oil and water don’t mix, that from now on Any-Religious reference or preamble or clause mentioned in them Constitutions must not be honored in the U.N.. Includes Several False NGO Members therein. So Think of the-Various Religion Systems as the OIL (via distillation) and United Nation body as WATER (medium). Question: Is the Western word for “G-D” same/exact thing as Eastern Word “ALLAH”? Lets hear what The WAHHABI’s of Saudi and AYOTOLLAH’s of Iran have to say about this unfortunate Ahmadiya “Massacre?” or event Note: We’ll not hold our breath waiting for an Answer to this Massacre; let alone 911. Hello Denying KURDS & ARMENIAN mass-murderers from Ottoman-Empire and now (think KAFEERS forgot or are stupid) called the (false Secular) “Republic Of Turkey” via Islamic Ummah. We are waiting for an honest answer about those [real] Massacres that Al ISLAM caused also.

  • farnaz_mansouri2

    And then of course there are the Christian and Hindu “sweepers.”When, I wonder, will anyone speak for them.

  • Secular

    This is not anything new here. Pakistan, the land of the pure from the very concept a loosing proposition. After 63 years, actually just 24 years only, that an experiment by the bigots, & opportunists like Jinnah had really ended in a dismal failure with the rectification of geographic anomaly that it was – birth of Bangladesh, yet another shining example of an islamic paradise. Now we are seeing the death knells being driven into the coffin. I only wish that Mr. 10%Zardari, would have the good sense to voluntarily turnover the nuclear weapons to US before it plunges into another Afghanistan – not a tear from me mind you.A few years ago the Pakistani ambassador to US was on our local NPR station, taking Q&A. I asked him if he in personal view would agree with me that Pakistan was a failed state, given its stated goals? Of course he dodged my question and claimed any Pakistani in Karachi or Lahore would disagree. I reminded him that i was asking for his personal view not official or that of an average Pakistani. he agin dodged the question. By looking at the posts in this blog, the ambassador was dead wrong about average non-sunni Pakistani.So you Ahmedis, Shias, et al don’t you wish that your forefathers had a little more brains to have not jumped on the Jinnah bandwagon? Don’t you think that infidel land called India would have been a more ideal place for you to be living? But then you still probably don’t think so. It is always more tolerable if the cousin kicks your teeth in rather than to suffer the benevolent rule of the infidel. Unless of course the infidel is a western infidel, that is why you guys have emigrated to the land of great Satan. Ahmedis lets face it you guys are screwed, you have no place to go, at least Shia can go to the other shining paradise islamic republic of Iran. What did you say, them Iranians are not very fond of the Urdu speaking Shia either? Then there is always the wonderful Mesopotamia, the paradise run by Al Sadr.

  • Navin1

    Hindus don’t count as Humans. As the poster Yasser has said, their deaths don’t count. Estimates of 3 million Hindus killed by the Pakistani government in Bangladesh, not important enough. Temples being destroyed regularly in Pakistan, not important enough. A target religious group in Pakistan says s/he is muslim and points to the unfair treatment of minority religions, and can’t bring him/her self to mention Hindus. Hindus know how cruel and empty the morality of the Koran is, they are too polite (because their religion teaches tolerance to the intolerant) to speak up. But I do not believe being polite to murderers, rapists, and theives, to mono-ideological monsters is ahimsa, it is himsa not to stand for justice in this world even if the world says you are self serving.Perhaps even the American Ahmadiyya spokesperson can some day recognize the Hindu as a legitimate minority. hariaum

  • yasseryousufi

    As a Sunni Muslim, I have to say that I wholeheartedly condemn this act of terror committed againts the peacefull Ahmediyya Minority of Pakistan. Pakistan has been suffering from wanton acts of terror for the last whole decade, a fruit of our being the front line ally on the war of terror. Thousands of pakistani’s have died at the hands of either terrorists or US drones since 9/11. The Anti-Pakistani Hindu gang of WaPo (namely Hariaum, Secular etc.) will try to twist this sad event for their own vested interest of maligning Pakistan. The fact is that this incident, however sad also showed the outpouring of grief from normal Pakistani’s. The Talk Show’s berated the Government for failing to provide ample security to Ahmedi’s. This is the first such act of terror against the Ahmedi’s in the history of Pakistan. More than 250 terrorists responsible for this act have been caught from the leads provided by the 2 terrorists who were caught red handed. So please readers……take the views of these hindus with a pinch of salt. They are enemies of Pakistan. You will always hear them frothing hatred towards Pakistan. Their posts are nothing but a pack of lies which I have bared many times before. To my Ahmedi brothers…….i’d like to say, you are Pakistani’s and you deserve all the respect any other Pakistani gets. Every Pakistani stands besides you in your moment of grief~!

  • i-me-my

    continued: Mr. Raymatulla (Americanized name?);So the Question, like WHo IS A JEWish? Or WHO IS A BUDDHAish? or WHO is a CHRISTish? or WHO is a HINDUish? etc.. Living In Pakistan, Bangladesh, Gaza.., So;”WHO IS A MUSLIMish {Islami}”? The ANSWER to that Religio quagmire have 2-opposing Views/Answers. One is ‘LOCAL’ (via National Community) and a 2nd view is the ‘GLOBAL’ (World Community). Soo,not to repeat the previous-post, but; in the “Islamic-Republic” (Pakistan-Ummah) their Constitution reads,Pakistani Citizen means Those “… WHO [who] believes in the unity and oneness of Allah, in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and does not believe in, or recognise as a prophet or religious reformer, any person who claimed or claims to be a prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Muhammad.” [Pak const.]. RECOMMENDATION: Change The Sharia-Based Pakistani ISLAMi Constitution. Change it from: Favoring one Religion via Islam (Wahhabi or Ayatollahi; Theocratically ventriloquist’d externally indirectly? in Pakistan & elsewhere by Such G-D Players) to: TRUE-FREEDOM (NO Wahhabi-bi’s, NO Ayatollah-bi’s Telling you what to Do unG-dly/unAlla-hly).Vote: Pure S-E-C-U-L-A-R-anity (i.e., NO respecting or favoring any Specific type or any 1 or 2 or 3… particular competing religion system’s based on Fear, Jealousy & Hate & Sexual-Guilt ancient stories). Islami Pakistani’s and ALL those similarly situated (on S.pace-S.hip Earth) must Think S-E-C-U-L-A-R & Not Think ISLAMICALLY. Say, NO to “SHARIA, law or HALAKAH, CANON, CASTE etc.. OnlyThink GLOBALLY; not LOCALLY!!; Similar to A-M-E-R-i-C-A-N Constitution & CO.,. Note: What a Government is is = to that Gov’t Const.itution and Enforcement Powers via Rights therein (Human + Const.). And soo, Pakistan’s Const. (and those similarly situated) Is Very Racist, Bigot’d, Prejudice, Anti-Humanity + Anti-Family & more. PS: WE [i] will recommend that Israel accept some of The Pakistani Family’s Of The VICTIMS (of Massacred/Murdered AHMADiYYAians). PS: SHAAME On TURKEY & Co., for abusing the Word “Massacre”, before ALLAh/G-D/iSHVARAh & The {SECULAR} UMMAH/WORLD!

  • Secular

    Yasseryousufi you wrote:Of course it is all those other guys’ fault. “Pure”istan is blameless. I suppose the shaithan made the Pakistani government to declare the Ahemedis as non-muslims. Yousufi, you just ignore the issues raised by others and respond with innuendo, and ad hominem. You have no capacity for introspection and self-examination.

  • Secular

    Continued from below:For a country supposedly founded because of the lament that its people may be oppressed by the surrounding majority, has zero, absolutely zero provisions in its constitution and in its statutes to safeguard the interests of minorities amongst them. Wasn’t it enough that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are muslim, but you had to enshrine that islam is the state religion in your constitution. You mouth off invective against the likes of me, but never are able to muster even a feeble response to the issues raised. Would you categorically come out, from the safety and anonymity of Washington Post, declare that the laws and constitution of your beloved Pakistan are flawed from the get go? I bet you will not. What do you think would be the fate of a leader who dares to secularize your laws. The poor wretch would be lynched, along with every member of his family, by the mobs urged on by the most pious of your clerics. I have yet to meet a pious mullah, who wasn’t a bigot and a fanatic to the core of his being.

  • Secular

    Continued from below:You go look at the changes in the population distribution of Pakistan from 1948 to 2010. Now tell me how welcoming is your wretched country is towards non-muslims. People have been voting with their feet for the past 60+ years. In contrast see the same figures for your nemesis India, despite its share of bigots. The difference is in your beloved Pakistan it is sanctioned to persecute minorities, in India it is explicitly prohibited. Not only that their interests are explicitly guaranteed. Your nation was based on baser instincts of humankind and suffers from it. It was born explicitly motivated by religious bigotry of your imams and mullahs. This was engendered by that personally-secular-pork-eating-scotch-savoring-illiterate-in-urdu-opportunistic-elitist Jinnah, the father of your nation. Had Nehru been willing to give up the claim to be the first PM of undivided India and let your beloved Jinnah to become the PM, there would have been no Pakistan. Alas, I often wonder, if Nehru had been magnanimous to have given up the claim what would have happened, considering that Jinnah croaked soon after that.Not only did I have the type of discussion, I alluded to in my previous post with your ambassador, but also with several of my friends and colleagues of Shia persuasion, and many have privately confessed to me that they rather wish it was India they would call home than any of the Sunni paradises, where they come from.SO Mr. Yousufi, don’t throw random invective at me. If you want to mute me just respond to the issues I have raised about your beloved Pakistan.

  • Secular

    Continued from below:It is quite sad that Mr. Rehmatullah et al are lamenting this sordid episode, but that begs the following questions. where were they and you Mr. Yousufi, when the Shia mosques were being bombed? Where were you guys when Hindu girls were being raped and converted to the religion of peace? Where are you now, when a muslima is raped, then executed for bringing the rape charges against the perpetrators, for out of marital sex? Where were you when Zia was instituting sharia for all? Where were you when anti-blasphemy laws were being instituted? Where were you all when bigotry was being enshrined into the very being of Pakistan? If you were not born at that time, what have you done since then? Ponder over these for just a few minutes, then post your ad hominem.

  • Secular

    I am not able to figure out but every so often the WAPO blogs dont let me post the entire passage. This time I had to cut it up into four parts to get the whole thing in. They need to have better software than this.

  • Qudsia00

    I wish the anti-Pakistani commentators would stop using this forum to pour out their political venom. Pakistani Ahmadies love Pakistan, just as Indian Ahmadies love India and American Ahmadies love the USA. The comments about Qaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah are most hurtful. He had left Indian politics out of frustration and had gone to England. It was Ahmadi leadership that convinced him to return (unlike the Pakistani textbook version that gives the credit to Iqbal): The clear and unambiguous instructions and dreams of Muhammad Ali Jinnah were for a secular Pakistan where minority rights would be equally protected, where people could hold any belief they chose without loosing their rights. Unfortunately he did not live long enough to implement those dreams into the fabric of Pakistan. Ironically, those religious extremists that were against the creation of Pakistan and had called Muhammad Ali Jinnah a Kafir/infidel, today hold the reigns of the country.

  • Secular

    Qudsia00{ thanks for your comments. However, this is not venom that is being poured out. These are facts that I have mentioned in my posts. This forum is not meant to tend to the tender feelings of the participants. That is not the way have open discussion. That said it is not to be used for gratuitous invective either. Mr. Jinnah, as you claim, was a key historical figure of the sub-continent, so will be judged for that. Your tender feelings should not be used to stifle the discussions. You claimed that Jinnah left the politics out of frustration. What was the frustration, you paint it as though the rest of the folks were getting in his way. Iqbal and his ilk of bigots did not want to have to live in Dar-ul-Harab, they wanted their own Dar-ul-Islam. This was despite the fact that not all muslims would be able to make to their paradise. The genesis of the concept of Pakistan was promoted by sheer religious bigotry. You go read the history for yourselves. Mr. Jinnah a secular by nature, was also a very ambitious man. He was frustrated as his ambitions were not being met. He was an elitist, whereas Mr. Nehru although born to unimaginable wealth was a populist. He wanted the position of PM, which Nehru was equally ambitious and was not willing to concede. Gandhi even tried to intercede and his beloved Nehru rejected it. unlike Mr. Jinnah, there were several other Muslim leader who were not frustrated Azad, Chagla, to name few. I judge Mr. Jinnah harshly because, he aligned with the despicable elements like Iqbal to further his ambitions. This despite the fact that he was already aware that his life was about to be over. His doctor had already told him that he did not have long to live. Despite that he went against his lifetime of principles and provided the intellectual heft for an evil cause. His so call unambiguous instructions to keep Pakistan secular ring hollow. he knew who the actors of Pakistan were, he knew his life was short, what was the cause for any optimism that his wishes for secular Pakistan would be respected by the like of Iqbal. For him, he wanted to be the big fish in the Pakistani pond, his ambition. the notion that muslim rights would not be guaranteed in India is just a red herring, you all know it, with like of nehru, Gandhi at the helm.

  • Qudsia00

    Dear Secular, I don’t want to use this forum to debate this issue. But just as you have your opinions about Jinnah, others may have their opinions about the politics played by Gandhi. If interested you can read from the following link (I will not comment on this topic anymore):