State of the nation: Urdu press seen complicit in Ahmedi baiting -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

State of the nation: Urdu press seen complicit in Ahmedi baiting

Rana Tanveer

LAHORE: The Urdu press and media are contributing to the hate campaign against Ahmedis by publishing “baseless stories,” the annual report, Persecution of Ahmedis in Pakistan during the year 2011 said. During 2011 more than 1,173 baseless stories against Ahmedis were published, the report added.

According to Jamaat Ahmedia spokesman Saleemuddin in 2011, Ahmadis were not allowed to hold a convention in Chenab Nagar (Rabwah), where 95 per cent of the population is Ahmedi. The community was also not allowed to hold any sports events openly, he said. On the other hand, he pointed out, anybody wanting to rally against the Jamaat Ahmedi had a free hand. They were also allowed to abuse and slander revered Ahmedi figures.

During 2011 Ahmadis were not allowed to build any places of worship anywhere in Pakistan. At some places, the police forcibly stopped the construction, Saleemuddin said. Speaking at the launch of the annual report on May 2, he said that the Constitution allowed every citizen to freely practice their faith and thus to build their places of worship. The report says, six Ahmedis were murdered and 31 had survived assassination attempts (made because of their faith). After the promulgation of the 1984 anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance, 210 Ahmedis had been killed because of their faith. There were 1,008 cases pending against Ahmedis in courts throughout the country.

Saleemuddin said, “There is an open hate campaign against Ahmedis in Pakistan even young children studying in nurseries are not spared.”

He said posters, stickers, fliers and calendars carrying hate messages were openly distributed. He pointed to the hate campaigns in Faisalabad where fliers and leaflets were openly distributed calling for Ahmedis to be killed. The government had failed to take any concrete action against such actions, he said.

He said extremists had increased their efforts to isolate the community and the campaign to encourage people to boycott Ahmedis and products of Ahmedi businesses had also been a major issue. Ahmedi children faced expulsion from schools. Many educational institutions refused to admit them.

The government, he said, seemed to have succumbed to the pressure from extremists and decided to look the other way.

Saleemuddin urged the government to re-evaluate laws that targetted the Ahmedi community and ensure that Ahmedis emjoy equal rights as any citizen. “Ahmedis are facing legal, social, cultural and political discrimination because of these laws.”

He said, “There have been 210 deaths after the imposition of these discriminatory laws in 1984, 254 assassination attempts, 23 Ahmedi places of worship have been demolished and 28 sealed by the administration. Sixteen places of worship have been taken over, 29 graves have been opened and desecrated. As many as 57 Ahmadis have been refused burial in common graveyards.

The Express Tribune