Freedom of Religions Persecution

Tragedy in Pakistan

Tragedy in Pakistan (Shukri Robinson) Human tragedy is too often reduced to a few paragraphs on the front page of a newspaper. If it is not in the newspaper or on television then either it did not occur or it is considered unimportant. People have been dying of starvation in Ethiopia since late 1970 but it was not until 1974 that on television we saw people dying before our eyes. Overnight Ethiopia was recognised as an event just like the poison gas leak at Bhopal and the typhoon storms in Bangladesh. There have been other human tragedies which have not received the same kind of attention yet some of them are just as painful and an even greater threat to civilisation that typhoons and terrorists. Human Rights violations in the Soviet Union have been going on for years yet little concern has been shown about it. Religious persecution in Pakistan may also be added to the list. Pakistan, an Islamic country, is being misled by its leader — Zia-ul-Haq — who is disobeying the following Islamic injunctions: (a) No compulsion of Religion is allowed. (b) Persecution is worse than killing. (c) No Muslim has the right to declare another Muslim to be an unbeliever or a non-Muslim. The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam was founded in 1889 by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad who claimed to be the Promised Messiah whose advent is awaited by Christians and Muslims. The Government of Pakistan has gone to extraordinary lengths to prohibit members of the Ahmadiyya Movement from calling themselves Muslims. Zia-ul-Haq has been depicting Islam as a barbaric and fanatical religion based on fear, force and hatred of infidels. On the other hand Ahmadiyya Muslims present Islam as a religion of love, peace and harmony based on equality, democracy and rational beliefs. It has respect for all religions and aims to establish universal brotherhood free of discrimination involving race, creed or colour. Differences of opinion gives Zia-ul-Haq no right to persecute Ahmadis and compel them to abandon their faith. By not permitting freedom of religion in Pakistan, Zia-ul-Haq is violating a fundamental teaching of the Holy Quran. No one is able to see or tell what is in another person’s heart; no one has the right to call another person a non-believer or a non-Muslim. In 1974 a 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS constitutional amendment by the Pakistan Parliament banned Ahmadi Muslims from the Islamic faith. Moreover, it declared them to be non- Muslims. Again this so-called Islamic country has a leader who does not care what Islam has to say on the matter. He just does whatever he wants. Islam teaches that ‘persecution is worse than killing’ yet in 1974 many Ahmadis were killed, their houses burned before their eyes and many young men badly beaten. The father and brother of my class fellow were murdered before her eyes in their own home. An Ahmadi teacher was shot to death in the street while returning home from school. Many were killed in the mob violence. Is it right for Zia-ul-Haq to cause innocent people to live in misery in their own country and homes? In-1984 he made it an offence, punishable by up to three years imprisonment and unlimited fine for Ahmadi Muslims to take part in Muslim rites, to call themselves Muslims and to call their place of worship a mosque. Since then hundreds of Ahmadis have been arrested without bail and charged for claiming their faith to be Islam. Their mosques have been defaced, some have been murdered in full view of Government authorities, their children are denied admission into educational institutions and not only are they barred from Government services, those in the services have been discharged. Does this religious persecution point to Zia-ul-Haq being an intelligent and religious person? The religious persecution in Pakistan is not so visible as the Ethiopian famine but never-the-less it is very disturbing. In Canada five thousand Ahmadi Muslims claim that four million members of their Community in Pakistan are being systematically persecuted and killed by the government of General Zia-ul-Haq. Their claim has been documented by Amnesty International but still the plight of the Ahmadis has received little attention. This ordinance against Ahmadis violates the United Nations Charter and is a serious breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I do not think it is right for the world to sit back and let this persecution go further. Ahmadis hope that during forthcoming talks with Pakistan, the United States’ Government will take serious note of these Human Rights violations by President Zia-ul-Haq. Press Release The situation in Pakistan regarding Ahmadi Muslims is growing from bad to worse every day. We receive scores of letters daily describing the atrocities committed against them by the Government and semi-Government agencies in Pakistan. Mr. Zafrullah, an Ahmadi Muslim from Sargodha, Pakistan, wrotes: “On 4th May, for no apparent reason, the police took away one of our elders, Hafiz Muhammad Amjed of Bhera District. Mr. Muhammad TRAGEDY IN PAKISTAN 29 Hayat Chaudhry and I went to enquire why he had been taken into custody. We parked our motorbike outside the gate of the police station. There was a mob of about twenty to thirty mullahs armed with sticks. Upon seeing us they started abusing us in the most filthy and provocative language. We ignored them and proceeded towards the police station. In no time the mob was on us and began striking blow after blow in the presence of the police. No mobster was arrested. We complained to the authorities but to our surprise the police refused to file our case. Instead a case was filed against two of our young men, the charge being that they used threatening language against the mullahs.” It is a fact that there is a constant threat of destruction to the lives and properties of four million Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. They are discriminated against in jobs, educational institutions etc. Thirteen prominent Ahmadis have been assassinated, yet not a single culprit has been brought to justice. Ahmadi mosques have been desecrated with the connivance of the police. More than five hundred Ahmadis have been arrested for declaring their faith “There is no one worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” The graves of some Ahmadis have been dug open by the mullahs under the supervision of police authorities and the dead bodies removed from their last, resting places. In spite of these blutant violations of Human Rights, the Western Press has chosen to remain quiet for the last two years. Some of them have not bothered to print a single line condemning these atrocities of Zia who, apparently, serves the interest of the West. (Rashid Ahmad Chaudhry, Press Secretary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association U.K.)