Belfast Telegraph

Pakistan aids persecution of Ahmadi Muslims by extremists

By Adam Walker

For most Muslims, Eid marks the happy end to a month of fasting and spiritual development. It is a day filled with prayers, warm embraces and the smiling faces of children as they open their presents.

For extremists, however, Eid only brings joy if it is coloured by the blood of murdered children.

This is the sad reality of extremists in Pakistan who —quite worryingly— represent a growing minority. The very same savages who place political ambition ahead of their religious duty to be men of peace, by persecuting minorities, subjugating women and obliterating all remnants of religious freedom.

Last month Bushra Bibi, a Pakistani lady in her fifties, would have been overjoyed in anticipation at seeing the happiness on the faces of her granddaughters, Hira (7 years) and Kainat (8 months), as they open their Eid presents. And Mubashara Bibi, a woman who was seven-months into her pregnancy, would have been dreaming about next year’s Eid and how it would mark the first for her expected child - what a joy!

Extremists had a different plan. They took to the streets of the Kachi-Pump area of Gujranwala and quickly turned into an enraged mob. Little time had passed before they started burning down the houses of members of the local Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — an Islamic sect heavily persecuted in many countries, but most fiercely in Pakistan.

While some Ahmadi Muslims were able to escape the deadly flames, moving from house to house to try and rescue others, Bushra Bibi, Hira and Kainat were mercilessly murdered.

Pregnant Mubashara Bibi was eventually taken to hospital only to find out that she had lost her baby. She was accompanied in hospital by eight women and children being treated for burns  - all of them coming to terms with the mental anguish of what happened.

The extremists who perpetrated this attack took great joy in what they had ''achieved.'' Images show them bright-eyed and wide-jawed. Dancing and hopping around in a state of ecstasy as the houses were consumed by the flames and the women and children were killed and injured. Their thirst for blood was so intense that they prevented the fire brigade from reaching the scene. The savagery of the mob was embodied in a tee-shirt one of them was wearing, which read: 'I made a difference today'.

In a statement released by the Caliph and Worldwide Head of the AMC, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, he said:''This attack was an act of the most extreme cruelty and brutality, whereby innocent people who were sitting peacefully in their own homes were attacked and left for dead.''

Apparently, their rage and killing-spree was ''justified.'' A local teenage Ahmadi Muslim, they allege, had posted a picture of the Ka'ba — the black stone in Mecca to which all Muslims face when praying.

To the civilised mind, posting a harmless image is normal and of no consequence, however in Pakistan an Ahmadi Muslim is prohibited by law from displaying any type of sentiment indicating that they are Muslims. This includes simple things like offering the Arabic salutation ''Peace be upon you'', praying or even to simply profess that they are Muslims.

The infamous Ordinance XX that houses these barbaric blasphemy laws, has frequently been used to persecute Ahmadis or anyone who falls outside extremist ideology. To make things worse, the teenager had not posted an image, or anything for that matter – the allegation was entirely fabricated!

Perhaps the most potent manifestation of extremism in Pakistan are not raging blood-thirsty mobs, but a system of governance that has for decades created an environment which celebrates intolerance directed at minorities. Since 1974, Ahmadis have been declared "non-Muslim" under Pakistani law. As the Ahmadi homes were inflamed and fire engines were turned back by the crowd, police at the scene felt no obligation to act. They simply watched.

And as is evidenced by a history of the authorities turning a blind-eye to the persecution of Ahmadis, the Caliph pointed out that, ''This attack took place as the local police stood by and watched and took no action. It is yet another example of how the authorities in Pakistan are aiding the persecution of Ahmadi Muslims.''

And when the ashes and dust are swept away, it is highly unlikely that any prosecutions will follow as the police and judiciary have been allowed to treat the persecution of Ahmadis with great apathy — sometimes even with a sense of pride and achievement.

This year should serve as a stark reminder that the difference between Pakistani extremists and those whom they hold up as oppressors might not be so great.

Adam Walker holds degrees in both Law and Arabic. He serves as National Spokesperson of the London based Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, the oldest Muslim Youth Association in the United Kingdom.

Further reading

Muslims have been standing against apostasy laws for a century

Dear Boko Haram, you know nothing of Islam 

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