Freedom of Religions Persecution

Letters to the Press

LETTERS TO THE PRESS The Daily Telegraph 2.10.87 Pakistan crackdown on Ahmadi Moslems SIR – An alarming report received by us recently reveals a new pattern of the concept of justice in Pakistan in the context of the legalised persecution of Ahmadi Muslims. Hitherto Ahmadi Moslems have been persecuted on petty and often ridiculous charges, tried under anti-Ahmadiyya ordinance No. XX of 1984, and sent to jail by the hundreds. Now it is proposed that any Ahmadi who allegedly is in breach of the above mentioned ordinance should be tried under the provisions of a new law called Defamation of the Prophet which is punishable with death. The following incident should illustrate the point: An Ahmadi Muslim had been prosecuted for displaying the words of the Kalima (“There is none worthy of worship except God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God”). He was refused bail, the “crime” being too grave to justify one. An appeal against the rejection of the bail by the lower court was filed with the Punjab High Court. But when Ahmadi lawyers learnt that the judge dealing with the appeal was a highly biased person and inimically disposed towards Ahmadi Muslims, they decided to withdraw the appeal. Examining this simple request to withdraw the appeal, Justice Rafiq Tariq of the Punjab High Court, went out of his way to remark: “This case involves the violation of the new law called Defamation of the Prophet and should be tried accordingly.” The High Court Judge was implying thereby that if an Ahmadi Muslim declares his Article of Faith, the Kalima, he is in fact defaming Prophet Muhammad and should be sentenced to death. This is a serious development in the state of the judiciary in Pakistan, and it is feared that any further alleged violation of the ordinance (up to three years rigorous imprisonment and unspecified fine) may be twisted at will and turned into an offence under the Defamation of the Prophet legislation (death LETTERS TO THE PRESS 43 penalty). This new situation should be of grave concern to all jurists in the world and send out an alarm signal, since it makes the life, property and honour of every Ahmadi in Pakistan even more insecure than hitherto. This also shows how the Government of Pakistan is using the machinery of the judiciary to exterminate the Ahmadiyya community in that country. Yorkshire Post 5.10.87 RASHID AHMAD CHAUDHRY Secretary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (UK) London SWI8 Persecution SIR – Recently the International Commission of Jurists, based at Geneva, brought out their comprehensive report regarding the situation of civil liberties in Pakistan in the aftermath of an eight-year period of General Zia’s martial law rule. The report has been jointly prepared by a special mission, assigned for the purpose, after a series of extensive meetings and interviews with federal ministers, chief justices, senior officials of the government, local lawyers and political workers to enquire into constitutional and legal rights of various sections of Pakistani society, including trade unions, women and religious minorities. The fact-finding mission comprises law experts of international repute and standing. In their I57-page report, the commission have devoted one full section to the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan and the steps taken by the government to curtail their fundamental rights and to restrict their religious freedom. The report is very critical of the amendments in the Pakistan Constitution drawn up in preparation for return to civilian rule. It has been observed that the amendments were manipulated to legitimise and extend the current rule of Gen Zia-ul-Haq. The report has negated Pakistan’s claim that Ahmadis are not discriminated against in Pakistan. The report adds: “They are suffering violence both to their person and their places of worship with no serious attempt being made to afford them protection. Indeed, members of the government have encouraged the feelings of hostility. The measures against the Ahmadis, which were introduced during martial law, have been added to since the restoration of civilian rule and it seems improbable that if these and other plans are implemented, Ahmadis 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS will be able to follow their faith without risking their life or prolonged imprisonment. Moreover, Ahmadis appear to be suffering extensive discrimination on account of their faith.” The report also says: “The government appears to be either ignoring unprovoked attacks on Ahmadi places of worship or allowing public order to be used as a pretext for stopping acts of worship.” The report has mentioned various examples of persecution of the members of the Ahmadiyya community, the destruction of their properties and mosques, and the discrimination against them in jobs, educational institutions and other areas. The commission have emphatically recommended that “The government should, therefore, reverse the measures which it has been taking against the Ahmadi community and take steps to ensure that they do not suffer unlawful discrimination or attacks on their person and places of worship.” It remains to be seen whether the Government of Pakistan will take any action on these remarks. – Yours faithfully, Asian Times 9.10.87 RASHID AHMAD CHAUDHRY Press secretary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (UK), London SWI8. Creating hatred against the Ahmadis More than four thousand people gathered in the Wembley conference hall last weekend, their main aim was to create hatred against the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, which number about ten thousand in Great Britain. Most of the speakers and almost all the audience were from Pakistan. The conference which lasted the whole day, negated the claim of Ahmadiyya Community that their members are being persecuted in Pakistan. Speaker after speaker criticised the religious beliefs of Ahmadis and ridiculed their leaders. Though the findings of all the police investigations and government enquiries do not even hint at the involvement of Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the leader of the worldwide Ahmadiyya community, he was accused of kidnapping and killing a mullah called Aslam Qureshi. The supreme head of the Ahmadiyya community left Pakistan in 1984 after the promulgation of anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance by General Zia and is now living in London. This is the reason put forward for conducting the conference LEITERs-TO THE PRESS 45 in London. “We will chase him to the corners of the earth,” many speakers declared. The conference passed several resolutions. Muslim countries specially Indonesia and Bangladesh were asked to declare Ahmadis as non-Muslim. Arab countries were asked to throw Ahmadis out of their territories. It was also resolved that Pakistan should remove all Ahmadis from civil as well as military key posts. They demanded that Ahmadi literature should be proscribed, and their press in Pakistan closed for good. One of the speakers suggested that they should not be allowed to call themselves “Ahmadis”. It was also suggested that lists of Ahmadis living in Britain should be prepared and that the Ahmadi teachers should not be allowed to teach in schools. An appeal was made for “Khatme-Nubuwwat Fund”, and more than five thousand pounds were collected on the spot. It was decided that a printing press should be installed in UK to produce literature against the Ahmadis. Jesus, son of Mary, was mentioned to be alive in heavens and would come back into the world to lead the Muslims, as against the Ahmadiyya point of view that Jesus was saved from the cross and died a natural death. The main speakers criticised the activities of the Ahmadiyya community both inside and outside Pakistan. The Ahmadis were dubbed as anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan. They were regarded as apostates and the punishment for apostacy according to mullahs is death penalty. The Mullahs belonging to Khatme-Nubuwwat, according to their own claim, are safeguarding the honour of the holy Prophet of Islam, which they believe, is at stake because of the Ahmadis. Ahmadis deny this charge vehemently and declare that the respect which they show to the holy Prophet of Islam is unparalleled, and that the founder of Ahmadiyyat has stressed this point in almost all of his books, which are more than eighty in number. The conference was organised with the sole purpose of uniting all Muslim sects against the Ahmadiyya sect in Islam to start a propaganda war against them in Britain. As regards the first objective, the conference seems to have failed badly, as was evident from the conduct of the participants shown at prayer time. They simply could not agree upon praying behind one Imam and more than fifteen groups were seen praying separately. How far they were able to create hatred against the Ahmadis in UK remains to be seen. As regards the demands and resolutions, the speakers forgot that they were in Britain where the freedom of conscience and religion is allowed and practised. Perhaps that is the only reason such fanatic Mullahs were tolerated by Muslims in London. Ahmed Sher Martindale Road Hounslow Middx.