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RABWAH: A PLACE FOR MARTYRS (Part 1)

19The Review of Religions – March 2007 Foreword by Eric Avebury, Vice-Chair, Parliamentary Human Rights Group Ever since its formation in 1976, the Parliamentary Human Rights Group (PHRG) has observed with concern the rising tide of intolerance and fanaticism in Pakistan, and the dire effects these trends have had on the rights and freedoms of the Ahmadiyya Muslim commu- nities living in that country in particular. In the early days of independence it was possible for talented Ahmadis like Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister, or Professor Abdus Salam, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, to rise to the top of their professions; today they face multiple threats to life and property; are effectively dis- franchised and prevented from holding public gatherings1; are denied access to higher edu- cation2, and are barred from Rabwah: A PLACE FOR MARTYRS Part one By Dr Jonathan Ensor – UK Report of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group mission to Pakistan into internal flight for Ahmadis. Foreword by Lord Avebury. Mission members: Frances Allen, Michael Ellman, Jonathan Ensor. 1 Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, State of Human Rights 2005, January 2006, pp 205 et seq, www.hrcp- web,.org/ar_home_05.cfm 2 ‘Muslim students must declare in writing that they believe in the unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad, a measure designed to single out Ahmadis’, US State Department, International Religious Freedom Report 2006, September 2006, www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2006/ An independant report (reproduced with prior permission) that destroys the myth that being a majority in their headquarter, Ahmadis may be able to obtain police protection. A chilling reminder of the ostracisation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, their continuing persecution and the absence of any protection by the authorities in Pakistan. 20 The Review of Religions – March 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE entry to public employment except at the lowest levels. In 1996, a report commissioned by the PHRG outlined the situation of the Ahmadis as it was then, describing murders, wrongful arrests and imprison- ments, attacks on Ahmadi Mosques, and widespread religious discrimination3. The UN Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance said in a report of his visit to Pakistan that year that the laws were ‘likely to foster intolerance in society’, and the specifically anti-Ahmadi law was ‘particularly questionable and in some respects frankly unwarranted’. In 2000, I attended the launch of President Musharraf’s human rights programme in Islamabad, and expressed satisfaction on hearing of his intention to mitigate the worst effects of the blasphemy law by providing that a First Information Report (FIR) on this offence could only be lodged with the approval of a senior police officer. Unfortunately this signal of reform was greeted by an outburst of hostile invective from the small but vociferous anti-Ahmadi lobby, and the concession was withdrawn. There has been no let- up since then on the progressive tightening of the screws, or any mitigation of the flood of hate speech directed against the Ahmadis by the fanatical Khatme Nabuwwat (Finality of the Prophethood) organisation. It is easy enough, in a society where most people are poor and ignorant, to stir up violent prejudice against a religious minority holding views that are considered heretical by the majority, and to use the law of the land to make the ‘heretics’ into non-citizens, as we know from our own history. That path leads ultimately towards genocide. In recent years, the PHRG has noted that an increasing number of Ahmadis, trying to escape the 3 Jeremy Hornsby, Persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, 1996. Jeremy Hornsby, Persecution of the Ahmadis in Pakistan, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, 1996. 21The Review of Religions – March 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE persecution in which they are trapped in Pakistan, have sought asylum in the UK, and although many have succeeded, our impression was that an increasing proportion were being refused. In a number of cases the reasoning was that, while the applicant might have had a well- founded fear of persecution within the meaning of the Refugee Convention if he returned to his locality of origin, he would be safe enough if he migrated internally to the city of Rabwah, founded by the Ahmadiyyah community and inhabited by a majority of Ahmadis. The anecdotal evi- dence we had from Rabwah was that life in Rabwah itself was severely restricted and that residents were subject to the same conditions, including occasional violence and intimi- dation, that occur elsewhere in Pakistan, and there was no real safety in numbers. It was decided to invite a panel of experts to visit Rabwah, hold discussions there, and also meet the authorities in Islamabad, to get as comprehensive a picture as possible of the conditions under which Ahmadis were living there. Dr Jonathan Ensor, the Senior Research Officer at the Immigration Advisory Service, Ms Frances Allen and Mr Michael Ellman, immi- gration practitioners, generously gave their time to this project, which involved not just the visit itself, but a considerable commitment of time to pre- liminary meetings and the drafting of their report. The PHRG thanks them warmly for their work, and hopes it will make a significant contribution to the determination of appeals that turn on the feasibility of internal flight. The report itself draws no conclusions, allowing the facts to speak for themselves. However, the statistic that out of a total of 60 blasphemy FIRs recorded in 2005 against Ahmadis, 25 were in Rabwah alone, indicates that the misuse of the law is as severe in Rabwah 22 The Review of Religions – March 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE as in the rest of Pakistan. Evidence was seen by the mission that the Ministry of the Interior caused local police to issue proceedings against Ahmadis in Rabwah, as else- where, for action including distribution of literature, propa- gation of their faith, and collecting funds, and this led to the closure of a newspaper. The community also suffers more severely in Rabwah because of the presence of a Khatme Nabuwwat mosque and a madrassa, which regularly incites hatred against the Ahmadis, leading to systematic intimi- dation and violence. The mullah acknowledged that his followers chanted ‘Death to the Ahmadis!’, but pretended that the attack was on beliefs not persons. Clearly, since Ahmadis are unable to vote – and are not even registered, since that would mean denying their faith – they play no part in the local government of Rabwah, but neither are they to be found among local police or officials. The evidence shows that hardly anything is spent on public services in the town, though Ahmadis themselves club together to repair roads and drains. In Rabwah, as elsewhere, the schools were nationalised by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. They were denationalised in 1996, but in Rabwah, although the Ahmadis bought the schools back, they remain in government owner- ship, now derelict and dan- gerous. This report makes clear the precariousness of life for Ahmadis in Rabwah, starved of opportunities for education and employment, menaced by the Khatme Nabuwwat and their rent-a-crowd mobs bussed in from miles around, prevented from buying land in the town they developed. They are deprived of the right to manifest their religion in worship, observance, practice and teaching, as laid down in the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and they are constantly under threat of prosecution under the infamous blasphemy laws. This place is not a safe haven for Ahmadis fleeing persecution 23The Review of Religions – March 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE elsewhere in Pakistan; it is a ghetto, at the mercy of hostile sectarian forces whipped up by hate-filled mullahs and most of the Urdu media. The authors of this report expose the reality of a dead-end, to which even more victims should not be exiled. 1. Introduction 1.1 Background to the mission The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam is a religious community founded in 1889 by Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad((as) – Ed) (1835-1908) in Qadian, India. He claimed that he was the ‘Promised Reformer’ and Messiah whose advent was awaited by the followers of different religions. Ahmad drew a large following, but other Muslims have strongly rejected his claims, insisting that Muhammad((saw) – Ed) was the last and final Prophet and there could be no other prophet or Messiah after him. Those most opposed to the Ahmadiyya Movement reject the notion that Ahmadis are Muslims and hold followers of Ahmad((as) – Ed) to be apostates. Following the withdrawal of the British from India in 1947, the Ahmadi community left Qadian and fled, along with many thousands of other Muslims, to what would become West Pakistan. Partly through their excellent relationship with the new Government of Pakistan, a number of Ahmadi leaders arranged to purchase 1043 acres of barren land near Chiniot, in Punjab. There the Ahmadi community members founded and developed Rabwah, which is today the administrative centre and headquarters of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. Rabwah is also seen as the alternative to their spiritual centre in Qadian and has a number of sites that are considered holy by the Ahmadi community. However, following anti-Ahmadi riots in 1953 and 1974, relations with the government deteriorated consid- erably, prompting the govern- ment to support the estab- lishment of a non-Ahmadi Muslim community in the town. Today Rabwah is also home to a non-Ahmadi Mosque, Madrassa and a so-called ‘Muslim Colony’ 24 The Review of Religions – March 2007 of non-Ahmadi Muslim residents on the outskirts of the town. Khatme Nabuwwat (Committee to Secure the Finality of the Prophethood), a group with a following throughout Pakistan, are specifically opposed to the Ahmadi belief in the nineteenth century Messiah and maintain a group in Rabwah centred on a mosque at the edge of the town. Ahmadis consider themselves to be Muslims and believe that they observe Islamic practices. However, in 1974 Prime Minister Bhutto enacted an amendment to the constitution declaring Ahmadis to be non- Muslims because they do not accept Muhammad((saw) – Ed) as the last prophet of Islam. In the decades following 1974 the position of Ahmadis in Pakistani law has become increasing precarious. In the 1980s, measures brought in by Zia-ul- Haq to Islamicise Pakistan’s civil and criminal law affected all religious minorities but particularly Ahmadis. Ordinance XX proclaimed in 1984 amended the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by adding sections 298b and 298c, both Ahmadi specific provisions further restricting their freedom of religion and expression. Section 298c, for example, has been referred to as the ‘anti-Ahmadi laws’ and prohibits Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslim, posing as Muslims, calling their faith Islam, preaching or propagating their faith and from insulting the religious feelings of Muslims. The so called ‘Blasphemy Laws’ in sections 295, 296, 297 and 298 of the PPC have been repeatedly condemned by international observers for severely constricting freedoms of expression, religion and opinion and for facilitating the detention of persons on vaguely defined charges of committing blasphemy or other religious offences. Clauses added to the PPC in 1986 (sections 295b and 295c) made defiling the holy Qu’ran or the name of the Holy Prophet((saw) – Ed) subject to heavy penalties including the death penalty, life imprisonment RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 25The Review of Religions – March 2007 and fines. In 1991, the Sharif government made the death penalty the mandatory punish- ment for blasphemy against the name of the Prophet4. In 1999 the Government of Punjab officially changed the name of Rabwah (which means ‘higher level’) to Chenab Nagar (reflecting the town’s location near to the Chenab River). This move was completed against the wishes of the Ahmadi com- munity, who continue to refer to the town as Rabwah. Rabwah is the preferred name throughout this report, although some respondents are recorded refer- ring to the new name. Similarly, Ahmadis are referred to by some respondents as Qadianis, a term that refers back to the community’s original spiritual home in India, and is considered highly pejorative by Ahmadis. The term ‘Ahmadi’ is therefore used in this report. Official government figures place the number of Ahmadis in Pakistan at around 70,000. However, Ahmadis have boycotted or classified themselves as ‘Muslim’ in the census since 1974, the alternative being to classify themselves as ‘non- Muslim’. The government figures are therefore signif- icantly inaccurate. The mission were given figures for the current number of Ahmadis in Pakistan of between 2 and 5 million. The situation faced by some members of the Ahmadi com- munity in Pakistan has prompted them to flee the country and seek asylum in the UK. In the course of deciding on the merits of these claims it has been repeatedly suggested that Ahmadis have an ‘internal flight alternative’ available to them: in short, that by moving to Rabwah, a persecuted Ahmadi would be able to gain security without leaving Pakistan. This assess- ment is based on the assumption that as Ahmadis form the RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 4 For more background detail, see, amongst other sources: US Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2006, September 2006; and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH): International Fact-Finding Mission Report, “in Male Fide” Freedom of expression, of association and of assembly in Pakistan, 17 January 2005. 26 The Review of Religions – March 2007 majority community in Rabwah, the town is able to offer protection to Ahmadis suffering persecution elsewhere in Pakistan. The Parliamentary Human Rights Group identified this assumption as key to many asylum claims and sought to test its veracity. A mission to Pakistan, focussing on Rabwah and recorded in this report, was the result. 1.2 Report scope and structure The mission focussed exclu- sively on issues relating to an internal flight alternative to Rabwah. This report, therefore, is only intended to provide evidence on this issue. However, in the course of the mission’s work it quickly became apparent that it is impossible to divorce the issues relating to Rabwah and internal flight from the broader social and political context within which Ahmadis survive in Pakistan. As a result some sections of this report consider the current situation faced by Ahmadis throughout Pakistan. Whilst the report is accurate in terms of having recorded the responses of a wide range of sources, it cannot and should not be considered or used as an exhaustive study of Ahmadis in Pakistan. Moreover, whilst every effort was made to consult as widely as possible in Pakistan, the mission members acknowledge and emphasise that no mission can be expected to provide a complete represen- tation of its subject. The remainder of this report is organised as follows. This Introduction concludes with a statement regarding the method- ology employed by the mission and a list of those sources the mission consulted, or attempted to consult, whilst in Pakistan. The main body of the report commences with a review of the position of Ahmadis in Pakistan, included, as noted above, as a necessary context without which the subsequent sections cannot be understood. This section address- es how discrimination against Ahmadis has reached a point where violence can be advocated against Ahmadis without government or police censure. RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 27The Review of Religions – March 2007 The particular role played by the anti-Ahmadi organisation, Khatme Nabuwwat, is intro- duced, as are the blasphemy laws and the use of First Information Reports (FIRs) to effect an arrest. Section 3 presents the evidence collected by the mission relating to the potential risk factors faced by Ahmadis in Rabwah. These consist of: the blasphemy laws; practising or expressing the Ahmadi faith; preaching by Ahmadis; threats and physical attacks; and attacks on property. Finally, section 4 considers the protection available for Ahmadis in Rabwah. Three types of protection are identified: com- munity protection, meaning the security offered to Ahmadis as a result of living in an Ahmadi- majority town; state protection, including the effectiveness of the police and judiciary in protecting Ahmadis in Rabwah; and the social and economic conditions that define everyday life for residents of Rabwah. No conclusions have been drawn in this report as it is the intention of the mission to provide an accurate and accessible repro- duction of the evidence that it received rather than to make an assessment as to the viability of internal flight. The latter is properly the role of asylum decision makers. 1.3 Methodology The mission arrived in Pakistan on 8 October 2006 and remained in the country for eight days. The time was split between Faisalabad, where three days were spent travelling to meet sources in Rabwah and Jhang; Lahore (two days); and Islamabad (two days). The first day was spent travelling to Faisalabad from Islamabad. Most meetings had been set up in advance of travelling to the specification of the mission. Meetings with sources took the form of semi-structured inter- views. The mission travelled with a set of questions under the headings: religious activities of Ahmadis; FIRs and blasphemy; protection in Rabwah; relocation to Rabwah; and life in Rabwah. These questions were used as the framework for discussions with each of the sources. All responses RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 28 The Review of Religions – March 2007 were recorded in written form by all members of the mission and the report was prepared from these responses in the period mid- October to mid-December 2006. Translation was provided where necessary by Salim Malik, of the Ahmadi community in the UK, and all sources were offered the option to have their responses recorded anonymously. The mission members were: – Frances Allen (Barrister, 12 Old Square), – Michael Ellman (Solicitor, Chair of Solicitors International Human Rights Group and Officer of the International Board of the International Federation for Human Rights – FIDH) and – Dr Jonathan Ensor (Senior Research Officer, Immigration Advisory Service). 1.4 Sources The following individuals and groups were interviewed by the mission. Additional materials were occasionally supplied by them and are referred to in the text. Copies of all these materials can be found in Appendix B. Direct quotes from sources have been identified in the body of the report by the use of quotation marks. Senior Government Advisor. The mission interviewed a senior government advisor who is an acknowledged expert in Islamic religious issues. In order to speak freely the source requested that his name and position be withheld. The name and status of the source is known to the authors of this report. Khatme Nabuwwat (Islamabad Chapter). The mission met with Maulana Abdul Rauf, President of Khatme Nabuwwat Islamabad Chapter, Muhammed Tyeb, Office Manager for Khatme Nabuwwat Islamabad, Mufti Abdul Rashid, Bari Abdul Rashid and Ibrahim Rashid, both Members of Khatme Nabuwwat Islamabad. RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 29The Review of Religions – March 2007 Mullah Allah yar Arshad, President of Khatme Nabuwwat in Rabwah (Mullah Arshad). Mullah Arshad has lived in Rabwah for 30 years, and has been a member of Khatme Nabuwwat since the founding of the organisation. When the mission met with Mullah Arshad the interview was interrupted by Mr Rabnawaz, who provided lengthy interjections. He is a lawyer practising in nearby Chiniot, and is president of the local forum of Khatme Nabuwwat in Chiniot. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. The mission was met by Ms Asma Jahangir (Chairperson), Mr I A Rehman (Joint Director), Kamila Hyat (Joint Director), Mr Mehboob Ahmed Khan (Legal Officer) and Air-Marshall (retd) Zafar Chaudhry (former council member). The HRCP describe itself as ‘an independent, non governmental organisation registered under the law.’ Its main office is in Lahore. It started functioning in 1987. The highest organ of HRCP is the general body comprising all members. The general body meets at least once every year. The executive authority of the organisation vests in the Council that is elected every three years. The Council elects the organisation’s office- bearers – Chairperson, not more than five Vice-Chairpersons, a Secretary General and a Treasurer. No office holder in government or a political party (at the national or provincial level) can be an office-bearer of HRCP. The Council meets at least twice every year. Besides monitoring human rights violations and seeking redress through public campaigns, lobbying and intervention in courts, HRCP organises seminars, workshops and fact-finding missions.’ (www.HRCP-web.org) Faiz ur Rehman, President, Amnesty International Pakistan. Mr Rehman explained that he is also a member of the United Citizens Forum, a relatively new RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 30 The Review of Religions – March 2007 organisation of ‘prominent persons’ that aims to observe and assess the factors behind religious problems in Pakistan, and to seek solutions to those problems nationally and internationally. It is through his work with Amnesty International, which has a human rights violation focus, and his work with the United Citizens Forum, which has a religious focus, that Mr Rehman has knowledge and experience of the situation facing Ahmadis in Pakistan. He explained that his views were based on a combination of his familiarity with the situation in Pakistan, his reading of back-ground literature and reports, and his first-hand experience as the leader of two fact finding missions investigating attacks on Ahmadis, most recently at Jhando Sahi in August 2006 (following attacks that forced the whole Ahmadi community to flee). British High Commission Islamabad (BHC). The mission met with Peter Wilson, Political Counsellor, and Matthew Forman, Second Secretary (Political), at the British High Commission in Islamabad. At one point in the meeting, the BHC noted that in their view the comments of the HRCP usually reflect a tendency to ‘see the glass totally empty’. Amjad J Salimi, District Police Officer, Jhang (DPO Salimi). DPO Salimi only took over at Jhang three weeks before the mission’s visit; he had previously been stationed in Baluchistan. The DPO at Jhang is responsible for the police force stationed at Rabwah. Saeed Tatla, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rabwah (DSP Tatla). DSP Tatla had been in his role in Rabwah four months, since June 2006. He informed the mission that he had little knowledge of events in Rabwah before his arrival. DSP Tatla is one of DPO Salimi’s subordinates. Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Secretary to the Mayor of RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 31The Review of Religions – March 2007 Rabwah (Mr Ibrahim). Senior members of the Ahmadi Community in Rabwah (Ahmadi Community Representatives). The mission met with several senior members of the Ahmadi Community in Rabwah. Present at the meeting were: Mirza Khursheed Ahmed (Chief Executive of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan), Ch Hameedullah (Director General of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan), Mujeeb-ur-Rehman (Advocate Supreme Court), Mobashir Latif Ahmad (Advocate Supreme Court), Pervaiz Ahmad Cheema (Advocate High Court). These five community members provided the bulk of the responses. However, the follow- ing were also present at the meeting and provided additional comments: Mansoor Ahmad Khan (Director, Foreign Missions Office), Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Director, Human Resources), Saleemudin (Director, Public Affairs), Qasim Shah (Former Director, Public Affairs), Mubarak Ahmad Tahir (Legal Advisor to the Community), Mirza Adil Ahmad (Assistant Legal Advisor), Ahmad Khalid (Human Rights Desk), Aziz Ahmad Omer (Assistant). The mission were also offered an appointment to see a member of the Ahmadi community in Faisalabad jail, where he reportedly resides having received a life sentence under 295c of the penal code. Unfortunately time constraints prevented the mission from following up this interview. Pakistan Ministry of the Interior rebuffed repeated requests for an interview. Requests were made in the weeks before travelling to Pakistan and whilst the mission were travelling. Repeated attempts were made to secure an interview with the Mayor of Rabwah and three appointments were made to meet with him in his office in the Rabwah municipal building. However, the Mayor failed to attend on each occasion. RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 32 The Review of Religions – March 2007 2. The Position of Ahmadis in Pakistan This section has been included because a number of sources emphasised that an under- standing of the social and political context in which Ahmadis live in Pakistan is required before the situation in Rabwah can be understood. The remainder of this report should therefore be considered against the background presented in this section. Evidence presented to the mission regarding the role of Khatme Nabuwwat, together with the function of the blasphemy laws and First Information Reports (FIRs) is also presented in this section. 2.1 Social and political environment The mission heard several accounts of how popular sentiment in Pakistan has become increasingly hostile to Ahmadis. The Senior Government Advisor explained how the population of Pakistan has become sensitised to Ahmadis since a spate of anti- Ahmadi violence in 1953. He explained how Islamic groups politicised anti-Ahmadi feeling, characterising the Ahmadi view of jihad (as a call for dialogue rather than taking up arms) as evidence that the Ahmadis are a group created by the colonial British to allow Islam to be conquered, and painting the Ahmadi recognition of a more recent Prophet than Muhammad((saw) – Ed) as a tactic of the British to marginalise or divide Muslims and thus sustain the British empire. In this way the religious and political have gradually been conflated, climaxing in the 1974 (political) declaration of Ahmadis as non- Muslims following a further outbreak of anti-Ahmadi violence. For the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) severe discrimination against the Ahmadis started with the 1974 declaration and the situation has been deteriorating ever since. The HRCP note that there is a class or economic element motivating this treatment of RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 33The Review of Religions – March 2007 Ahmadis, pointing out that the Hindu community, who belong to a low economic class, receives relatively little popular attention and low levels of discrimination. The Ahmadis, however, tend to be an educated and successful community whose members have historically risen to important positions in govern- ment and civil society. Today, Ahmadis are prevented from accessing senior employment in state defence or civil institutions. Faiz ur Rehman (President of Amnesty International Pakistan) described the situation in similar terms: prior to 1974 there had been a large number of Ahmadis in senior positions in the Pakistan administration. This is now no longer the case: there are no Ahmadi policy makers, judges, or educationalists. The Senior Government Advisor explained that in the large areas of Pakistan where literacy is low, people’s understanding of unfa- miliar issues (such as Ahmadis) is determined by what they hear in the Mosque. Faiz ur Rehman made a similar point, noting that in small towns literacy is often poor, providing the Mullahs with an uncritical audience. In such areas, the Mullah has the power to tell the population how to behave – characterised as being ‘for the good of their eternal souls’ – and the people are likely to comply. The Senior Government Advisor also explained that the funda- mentalists are effective at using the media and have always been adept at capturing the public sphere. The result is that large sections of the population have been made fearful of Islamo- phobia and of becoming a minority similar to the Muslim community in India. The HRCP and British High Commission (BHC) also noted the role played by the media. The HRCP described the vernacular press as having become virulently anti- Ahmadi. State television contains broadcasts of anti- Ahmadi rhetoric, including phrases such as ‘Ahmadis deserve to die.’ Even in the traditionally liberal English RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 34 The Review of Religions – March 2007 language press, religious free- dom is becoming harder to defend as journalists increas- ingly fear attack if they defend Ahmadis. The BHC stated that public opinion on Ahmadis, encouraged by the vernacular press, is conservative. Whilst Christian rights may be upheld in the press, Ahmadi rights are not. The effect is that most people have accepted the proposition that Ahmadis are non-Muslim and this is as far as they take the issue. However, others use the discrimination as an opportunity for personal or political gain. The HRCP stated that the situation faced by Ahmadis today is very poor, and becoming worse as each year passes. In a country where sectarianism is on the increase, the Ahmadis were described by HRCP as being in the worst case scenario: the official policy on religion leaves the group extremely vulnerable. The threat to Ahmadis varies from place to place: in some villages Ahmadis are able to live safely, whilst in others they have been driven out. The reports of violence fluctuate each year but the overall trend of violence against Ahmadis is worsening. Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of the HRCP and UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom or Belief, summarised the situation: ‘even if a fly is killed it is the Ahmadis fault and the Jews are behind it.’ The atmosphere of intolerance towards Ahmadis – in which the perpetrators of violence against them are painted as the injured parties – is increasing, and is being indirectly nurtured by the government who do not defend Ahmadis. Three years ago a member of the judiciary or government would have spoken out against violence or stepped in to defend Ahmadis against attacks in the press, but this is no longer the case. The HRCP highlighted two prominent examples: first, the Prime Minister has publicly declared that he is not an Ahmadi after his opponents used this accusation against him; and second, during a debate aired on state television RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 35The Review of Religions – March 2007 in which a government minister participated, it was stated that Ahmadis ‘deserve to be killed’. The minister did not challenge the comment and no prosecution has been brought. The HRCP expressed the view that through not challenging such statements the state is effectively providing extremists with a licence to promote intolerance and abuse. The BHC characterised the current political climate as one in which President Musharraf’s declared approach of ‘enlight- ened moderation’ is in the balance, with a battle being fought between modernisers and extremists. The current attempts to reform the Hudood ordinances are an example of this. The reforms have turned into a contest between Musharraf’s attempts to reverse President Zia’s legacy, and the conser- vative leadership who believe they can rely on the Mullahs to bring the population to the street to prevent reform. It is notable that Musharraf’s own party convened a meeting to under- mine the Hudood reforms once the President had left Pakistan. It is in this context that religious reforms must be seen: the BHC believes that Musharraf and the Prime Minister have done much to promote religious tolerance. However, on the ground little has changed. The use of religion to gain advantage continues and Musharraf’s attempt to prevent abuse of the blasphemy laws has had little impact in reality (see ‘Blasphemy Laws and FIRs’, below). The BHC noted that even within this context the Ahmadi issue is different as public opinion has become set against the Ahmadis. The sensitivity of Ahmadi identity is such that Ahmadis face social isolation. In Mr Rehman’s view the Ahmadis are the most repressed com- munity in Pakistan. Whilst the Christian community face problems, they have profile and support in Pakistan. No one is exerting pressure on behalf of the Ahmadis. The BHC also noted that there is under-reporting of Ahmadi per- RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 36 The Review of Religions – March 2007 secution, making it difficult to make an accurate assessment of the frequency of attacks against Ahmadis; however, the BHC consider the problems faced by Ahmadis to be a serious issue. The Pakistan government has done little to alleviate the problems faaced by Ahmadis: it would be ‘political suicide’ to deal with the Ahmadi problem directly and politicians will not use the example of the Ahmadis to make the case for religious tolerance. The Senior Government Advisor draws a similar conclusion: it is now beyond the power of government to reverse the situation for Ahmadis. Over time the religious political parties have gained in strength, sensitising the popu- lation to the status of Ahmadis to the point where ‘the common man can be incited and brought to the street against Ahmadis. The Senior Government Advisor believes that changes in the law will not be sufficient to change the view of the population: there must be a change in the views held in society first. However, whilst extremism is limited to certain groups, no one dares to speak freely about religious issues. Even the most open and secular political parties are not prepared to challenge the public percep- tion of Ahmadis for fear of losing credibility and standing in the eyes of the public. The result is that there is no party or institution prepared to lead the debate on Ahmadis in Pakistan and, therefore, a change in public attitude is not anticipated in the near future. 2.2 The role of Khatme Nabuwwat (Committee to Secure the Finality of Prophethood) The mission had been made aware of the significance of Khatme Nabuwwat prior to travelling to Pakistan through reports such as the UK Home Office’s Pakistan Country of Origin Information Report, in which it is reported that Khatme Nabuwwat ‘have called for the banning of the Ahmadi move- ment and the killing of Ahmadis.’5 In Pakistan, the mission were informed by the RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 37The Review of Religions – March 2007 Ahmadi community represen- tatives that the main perpetrators of attacks on Ahmadis and on property in Rabwah are members or supporters of Khatme Nabuwwat. Faiz ur Rehman, President of Amnesty International Pakistan, noted that Khatme Nabuwwat are present in Rabwah and are repeatedly in the news for, for example, inciting violence, attacking the library or picking up people from Rabwah and passing them to the police. Mr Rehman explained that through his work with Amnesty International he knew that Khatme Nabuwwat in particular are known for making telephone threats directly to judges in Ahmadi cases. The British High Commission noted that Khatme Nabuwwat are linked to many mainstream political parties and opposition leaders. The Ahmadi Community Representatives confirmed this through an example: on 5 September 2006 Hafiz Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, Advisor to the Chief Minister of the Punjab for the Promotion of Religious Harmony, was a special guest at the Khatme Nabuwwat conference held at Sargodha. When asked to explain the role and purpose of their organisation, members of the Islamabad Chapter of Khatme Nabuwwat informed the mission that it is Khatme Nabuwwat’s belief that no Prophet can come after Muhammad((saws) – Ed) as he is the final Prophet. Anyone who claims otherwise is an infidel and their claim is false, baseless and a crime. Khatme Nabuwwat’s mission is therefore to spread understanding of the finality of the Prophet through preaching and books. The source insisted that they have mutual respect for all, including Ahmadis, as humans. However, Ahmadis should not assert themselves to be Muslim because they do not believe in the laws of the Prophet. Mullah Arshad, of the Rabwah Chapter of Khatme RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE 5. For more background detail, see, amongst other sources: US Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2006, September 2006; and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH): International Fact-Finding Mission Report, “in Male Fide” Freedom of expression, of association and of assembly in Pakistan, 17 January 2005. 38 The Review of Religions – March 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE Nabuwwat, told the mission that the purpose of Khatme Nabuwwat is to act against those who do not accept the finality of the prophet, to contradict them and to invite them to rejoin the faith. Mullah Arshad confirmed that this role means that the focus of Khatme Nabuwwat is on Ahmadis in particular. According to Khatme Nabuwwat (Islamabad Chapter) the move- ment against Ahmadis started when members of the Muslim community were attacked by Ahmadis at Rabwah railway station in 1974: the source told the mission that ‘Ahmadis were terrorists, and they are terrorists today.’ Mr Rabnawaz, whom the mission met with at the Khatme Nabuwwat mosque in Rabwah, was more expansive in his explanation of Khatme Nabuwwat’s views. Repeating the accusations referred to in the historical account of anti- Ahmadi agitation communicated by the Senior Government Advisor (above), Mr Rabnawaz stated that the Ahmadi com- munity was essentially a creation of the colonial era British Government. He claimed that the British had recognised Ahmad as a messiah out of political necessity and then had made use of the Ahmadi sect to divide Muslims. According to Mr Rabnawaz the legacy of British sponsorship is Ahmadi power in Pakistan today. This can be seen from the fact that although there are only around 125,000 Ahmadis in Pakistan, of whom about 25,000 are in Rabwah, ‘Ahmadis hold 20-30% of the power in Pakistan’, with Ahmadi bureaucrats in the administration providing support to other Ahmadis. 2.3 Blasphemy Laws and First Information Reports (FIRs) Zia ul-Haq’s 1984 Ordinance XX introduced explicit references to Ahmadis in sections 298b and 298c of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) (see Appendix C: Copy of Ordinance No. XX of 1984 and 1986 Amendment to the section 295c of the Pakistan Penal Code). Section 298b signif- icantly restricts Ahmadi freedom of religion and expression requiring ‘a term which may extend to three years’ and a fine for any Ahmadi: who by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation; (a) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a Caliph or companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as ‘Ameerul Mumineen’, ‘Khalifa-tul- Mumineen’, ‘Khalifa-tul- Muslimeen’, ‘Sahaabi’ or ‘Razi Allah Anho’ (b) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as ‘Ummul- Mumineen’ (c) refers to, or addresses, any person, other than a member of the family (Ahle-bait) of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as ‘Ahle-bait’; or (d) refers to, or names, or calls, his place of worship as ‘Masjid’ The same punishment is prescribed for any Ahmadi who ‘refers to the mode or form of call to prayers followed by his faith as ‘Azan’ or recites Azan as used by the Muslims’. 298c specifically defines Ahmadis as non-Muslims, imposing three years imprisonment and a fine on any Ahmadi who directly or indirectly, poses himself as Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims 39 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE The Review of Religions – March 2007 Clauses added to the PPC in 1986 (sections 295b and 295c) make defiling the Holy Qu’ran or the name of the Holy Prophet subject to heavy penalties including the death penalty, life imprisonment and fines. 295c is broadly defined, including derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet by ‘imputation, innuendo, or insinuation’ (see Appendix C). In 1991, the Sharif government made the death penalty the mandatory punish- ment for blasphemy against the name of the Prophet. Table 1 summarises the blasphemy laws and the associated penalties. A First Information Report (FIR) is the process through which the police take notice of alleged transgressions of the penal code and forms the legal basis for arrest. The Ahmadi Community Representatives explained the procedure for and consequence of filing an FIR. An FIR is lodged at a police station with the Station House Officer (SHO). Where the FIR involves a cognisable offence (those the police can consider without the need for a court to investigate, including the blasphemy laws) the police have to take immediate action and arrest the person concerned. There is no time limit between the issuing of an FIR and the detention of the suspect(s), but once an arrest has taken place the police must complete their investigation within 14 days. Following arrest no legal assistance is allowed at the police station and the accused must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. The mission were informed that bail is refused in most blasphemy cases and only around 10% of such cases are found in favour of the accused. The order of events is significant: a case would be thrown out if the FIR is lodged after an investigation. The Ahmadi community explained that once an individual receives bail, they are then required to appear at the case hearing approximately every month. The location of the bail 40 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE The Review of Religions – March 2007 hearing will depend on where the FIR has been lodged. The mission were informed by the Ahmadi community repre- sentatives that FIRs are being filed against them by the police and local Mullahs following the direct intervention of the Federal Government. By way of example, the mission were shown a FIR dated 15 December 1989, filed by the SHO Rabwah, which is against the entire population of Rabwah. The community has been charged under 298c and accused of practising Islamic social eti- quettes and worship. This case is still pending (see Appendix B3: Police report (FIR) against the entire population of Rabwah, 15 December 1989). The HRCP noted that changes to 41 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE The Review of Religions – March 2007 PPC Description Penalty 298a Use of derogatory remarks etc., in respect of holypersonages Three years’ imprison- ment, or fine, or both 298b Misuse of epithets, descriptions and titles etc., reserved for certain holy personages or places, by Ahmadis Three years’ imprison- ment and fine 298c An Ahmadi, calling himself a Muslim, or preaching or propagating his faith, or outraging the religious feelings of Muslims, or posing himself as a Muslim Three years’ imprisonment and fine 295 Injuring or defiling places of worship, with intent toinsult the religion of any class Up to two years’ imprisonment or fine, or both 295a Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs Up to 10 years’ imprisonment, or fine, or both 295b Defiling, etc., of Holy Quran Imprisonment for life 295c Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet Death and fine TABLE 1: SUMMARY OF BLASPHEMY LAWS AND PENALTIES the law had been introduced in January 2005 in an attempt to reduce the malicious or frivolous application of the blasphemy laws. In the revised procedure, a 295c blasphemy complaint must be investigated by a senior police official before the FIR can be lodged. However, the HRCP noted that this has had little impact in reality for Ahmadi cases, as police practice is for the Station House Officer to contact his senior officer who routinely gives permission to enter the FIR. (to be continued next month) [Minor amendments, such as suffixes (saw) have been added by the Editor Review of Religions, but in each case, these have been annotated as eg, ((saw) – Ed) 42 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS, PART ONE The Review of Religions – March 2007 Verse references to the Holy Qur’an item count ‘Bismillah…’ (In the Name of Allah…) as the first verse of each Chapter. In some non-standard texts, this is not counted and should the reader refer to such texts, the verse quoted in The Review of Religions will be found at one verse less than the number quoted. In this journal, for the ease of non- Muslim readers, ‘(saw)’ or ‘saw’ after the words, ‘Holy Prophet’, or the name ‘Muhammad’, are used. They stand for ‘Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam’ meaning ‘Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him’. Likewise, the letters ‘(as)’ or ‘as’ after the name of all other prophets is an abbreviation meaning ‘Peace be upon him’ derived from ‘Alaihis salatu wassalam’ which are words that a Muslim utters out of respect whenever he or she comes across that name. The abbreviation ‘ra’ or (ra) stands for ‘Radhiallahu Ta’ala anhu and is used for Companions of a Prophet, meaning Allah be pleased with him or her (when followed by the relevant Arabic pronoun). Finally, ‘ru’ or (ru) for Rahemahullahu Ta’ala means the Mercy of Allah the Exalted be upon him. In keeping with current universal practice, local transliterations of names of places are preferred to their anglicised versions, e.g. Makkah instead of Mecca, etc.