Members of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan have been facing state-patronized terror and cruelty for decades. Although Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan grants all citizens the right to profess their religion, members of the Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Ahmadiyya, Baha’i and non-Muslim communities are not granted the rights to their religion. In the eyes of Pakistani Muslims, Ahmadiyya community members are “infidels” while other religious minority members are “enemies of Allah”. Sadly, members of the international community, including rights groups, especially the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) have miserably failed in exerting pressure on the radical Islamic government in Pakistan in stopping intimidation and persecution of religious minorities.
According to media reports, after months of social media hate speech targeting, the Ahmadiyya community’s place of worship was destroyed in Garmola Virkan, a village located in Gujranwala in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
A mob had assembled near the mosque in board daylight. After that, the local municipal authority members — armed with axes, hammers, and iron rods — came and climbed atop the building. They tore the minarets and desecrating the Shahada (the basic creed of Islam) inscribed on the mosque’s façade.
We won’t let anyone from the outside touch the minarets or the kalma,” Aamir Mahmood, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community and head of their media cell, told reporters. “Police, however, is a representative of the state, so we can’t stop them”.
In 1974, through the Second Amendment to the Constitution, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims in Pakistan.
Hundreds of Ahmadis were killed in the 1953 Lahore riots and the 1974 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots. The May 2010 Attacks on Ahmadi mosques, infamously known as the Lahore Massacre, resulted in the murder of 84 Ahmadis by suicide attack. The 1974 riots resulted in the largest number of killings of Ahmadis.
Approximately 2~5 million Ahmadis live in Pakistan, which has the largest population of Ahmadis in the world. It is the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims as they do not consider Muhammad to be the final prophet; and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments. In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims; the country’s constitution was amended to define a Muslim “as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad”.
In 1984, General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, issued Ordinance XX. The ordinance, which was supposed to prevent “anti-Islamic activities”, forbids Ahmadis to call themselves Muslim or to “pose as Muslims”. This means that they are not allowed to profess the Islamic creed publicly or call their places of worship mosques.
Although derogatory religious slurs, the terms ‘Qadiani’, ‘Qadianism’, ‘Mirzai’ and ‘Mirzaian’ are widely used in Pakistan to refer to Ahmadis and the term ‘Qadiani’ is also the term used by the government in its constitution.
Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Quran, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. In applying for a passport or a national ID card, all Pakistanis are required to sign an oath declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an impostor prophet and all Ahmadis to be non-Muslims.
The word Muslim was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel prize winning theoretical physicist Abdus Salam, because he was an Ahmadi.
As a result of the laws and constitutional amendments regarding Ahmadis in Pakistan, persecution and hate-related incidents are constantly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many attacks led by various religious groups. All religious seminaries and madrasas in Pakistan belonging to different sects of Islam have prescribed essential reading materials specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.
For the five million Ahmadis, religious persecution has been particularly severe and systematic in Pakistan, which is the only state to have officially declared that Ahmadis are non-Muslims. Pakistani laws prohibit the Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims, and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, Acts and constitutional amendments.
As a result, persecution and hate-related incidents are regularly reported from different parts of the country. Ahmadis have been the target of many violent attacks by various religious groups in Pakistan. Madrassas of all sects of Islam in Pakistan prescribe reading materials for their students specifically targeted at refuting Ahmadiyya beliefs.
In a recent survey, students from many private schools of Pakistan expressed their opinions on religious tolerance in the country. The figures assembled in the study reflect that even among the educated classes of Pakistan, Ahmadis are considered the least deserving minority in terms of equal opportunities and civil rights. The teachers from these elite schools showed lower levels of tolerance towards Ahmadis than their pupils.
Another example is Abdus Salam, the only recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics who identified as a Muslim. For his mere allegiance to the Ahmadiyya sect, he had been ignored and excommunicated. There are no monuments or universities named after him. The word “Muslim” has been erased from his grave stone epitaph.