Pakistan’s anti-religious liberty laws

By Sarah MalikCommunity outreach coordinator Ahmadiyya Muslim Community On Friday, a group of militants belonging to a satellite group of … Continued

By Sarah Malik
Community outreach coordinator
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

On Friday, a group of militants belonging to a satellite group of the Taliban simultaneously attacked two Ahmadi Muslim Mosques in Lahore, Pakistan. Each mosque was full of more than 1,500 worshippers who had gathered for Friday prayer services. The terrorists’ bloody rampage lasted several hours and the attackers killed more than ninety and injured more than 120 worshippers.

One of the men killed in the brutal attacks was my uncle, Khalil Solangi. Uncle Khalil lived in Columbia, Maryland, with his wife and three children. Throughout his life he was active in volunteer work with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Although he was a very successful business owner, you would never know it from speaking to him, because his demeanor was always gentle, and never pretentious. He was very generous with his wealth. Because of his kind and generous nature, Uncle Khalil had many friends and he will be greatly missed.

Uncle Khalil was attending Friday prayers at the mosque in Lahore on Friday. He was in Pakistan for his niece’s wedding. It was the will of God that he was there this Friday, and gave up his life in the worship of God, thus becoming a martyr. On Friday, after I heard the awful news of his demise, I went to my Uncle’s home in Columbia to offer my condolences to his wife and children. I was amazed by the patience exhibited by his family. Although they were upset, as expected, they showed no signs of anger or rage at the atrocity that was committed. They were following the true principles of Islam, and bore their loss with patience and fortitude.

The mosques that were attacked belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was established in 1889 with membership now exceeding tens of millions. There are thousands of loyal Americans who are Ahmadi Muslims, and many have lost loved ones in Friday’s attacks. Ahmadi Muslims believe that the teachings of Islam do not allow for an aggressive “jihad by the sword”. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community categorically rejects terrorism in any form and teaches moderation and restraint despite bitter opposition from parts of the Muslim world.

Just as Uncle Khalil’s family demonstrated patience at this difficult time, Ahmadi Muslims across the world have demonstrated patience after Friday’s atrocities. No Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan has taken to the streets in protest or has demonstrated revenge through violence. The spiritual leader of the Ahmadi Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, has guided all Ahmadi Muslims, to turn to God and pray for the victims and their relatives. The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has always been a peaceful community despite being victims of violence and state sponsored discrimination in Pakistan. In 1974, the Pakistani Constitution was amended to declare the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as “non-Muslims”. Again, in 1984, an ordinance was passed criminalizing any attempt by Ahmadi Muslims to “impersonate a Muslim”. Thus, by Pakistani law, Ahmadi Muslims are not allowed to call their places of worship Mosques, or to even say the Islamic greeting of “Peace be on you”.

These kinds of laws strengthen extremism and promote terrorism within Pakistan. This kind of extremism finds its target in not only Ahmadi Muslims, but in Christians, Jews, those of other faiths, and even in the United States. We are blessed to live in the United States, a nation built upon the basic human right of religious freedom. The United States and Pakistan are allies in the war on militant extremism in Pakistan. The United States should urge Pakistan to repeal these laws that encourage hatred, extremism, and violence. Our fight on terror should include a repeal of these laws to help prevent violence from occurring in Pakistan and from spreading across the world to the United States, the land of the free.

Sarah Malik is a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Women’s Auxiliary of the Silver Spring, Md. Chapter

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  • gmlakhoadvocate

    Of course, the urge of Sarah Malik is full of force. I have the honor to agree with it. Yes, the United States should urge Pakistan to repeal these laws that encourage hatred, extremism, and violence. What is the foundation of these laws? It is must to point it out here. The foundation of these laws is the Article 2 of the Constitution of Pakistan in which it is stated that “Islam shall be the State Religion of Pakistan”. Thus, repeal of the State Religion is must because it is the foundation. Yes, it would be in the fitness of things to hit the foundation, and, then, the whole structure built on it will fall down on the ground. The point, which needs consideration, is that till the writing of these lines, the Government of the “United States, the land of the free” has not deemed it fit and proper, due to reasons best known to it, to declare publicly its stand on the State Religion of Pakistan. The so-called “fight on terror” has not even touched the foundation, namely, the State Religion. I hope the Government of the “United States, the land of the free” would heed the urge of Sarah Malik.

  • Secular

    This is not anything new here. Pakistan, the land of the pure from the very concept a loosing proposition. After 63 years, actually just 24 years only, that an experiment by the bigots, & opportunists like Jinnah had really ended in a dismal failure with the rectification of geographic anomaly that it was – birth of Bangladesh, yet another shining example of an islamic paradise. Now we are seeing the death knells being driven into the coffin. I only wish that Mr. 10%Zardari, would have the good sense to voluntarily turnover the nuclear weapons to US before it plunges into another Afghanistan – not a tear from me mind you.A few years ago the Pakistani ambassador to US was on our local NPR station, taking Q&A. I asked him if he in personal view would agree with me that Pakistan was a failed state, given its stated goals? Of course he dodged my question and claimed any Pakistani in Karachi or Lahore would disagree. I reminded him that i was asking for his personal view not official or that of an average Pakistani. he agin dodged the question. By looking at the posts in this blog, the ambassador was dead wrong about average non-sunni Pakistani.So you Ahmedis, Shias, et al don’t you wish that your forefathers had a little more brains to have not jumped on the Jinnah bandwagon? Don’t you think that infidel land called India would have been a more ideal place for you to be living? But then you still probably don’t think so. It is always more tolerable if the cousin kicks your teeth in rather than to suffer the benevolent rule of the infidel. Unless of course the infidel is a western infidel, that is why you guys have emigrated to the land of great Satan. Ahmedis lets face it you guys are screwed, you have no place to go, at least Shia can go to the other shining paradise islamic republic of Iran. What did you say, them Iranians are not very fond of the Urdu speaking Shia either? Then there is always the wonderful Mesopotamia, the paradise run by Al Sadr.

  • Secular

    This is not anything new here. Pakistan, the land of the pure from the very concept a loosing proposition. After 63 years, actually just 24 years only, that an experiment by the bigots, & opportunists like Jinnah had really ended in a dismal failure with the rectification of geographic anomaly that it was – birth of Bangladesh, yet another shining example of an islamic paradise. Now we are seeing the death knells being driven into the coffin. I only wish that Mr. 10%Zardari, would have the good sense to voluntarily turnover the nuclear weapons to US before it plunges into another Afghanistan – not a tear from me mind you.A few years ago the Pakistani ambassador to US was on our local NPR station, taking Q&A. I asked him if he in personal view would agree with me that Pakistan was a failed state, given its stated goals? Of course he dodged my question and claimed any Pakistani in Karachi or Lahore would disagree. I reminded him that i was asking for his personal view not official or that of an average Pakistani. he agin dodged the question. By looking at the posts in this blog, the ambassador was dead wrong about average non-sunni Pakistani.So you Ahmedis, Shias, et al don’t you wish that your forefathers had a little more brains to have not jumped on the Jinnah bandwagon? Don’t you think that infidel land called India would have been a more ideal place for you to be living? But then you still probably don’t think so. It is always more tolerable if the cousin kicks your teeth in rather than to suffer the benevolent rule of the infidel. Unless of course the infidel is a western infidel, that is why you guys have emigrated to the land of great Satan. Ahmedis lets face it you guys are screwed, you have no place to go, at least Shia can go to the other shining paradise islamic republic of Iran. What did you say, them Iranians are not very fond of the Urdu speaking Shia either? Then there is always the wonderful Mesopotamia, the paradise run by Al Sadr.

  • wb_usahmadimuslim

    With due respect to the commenter “Secular” I would like to state that as Ahmadi Muslims it is part of our faith to be loyal to our respective countries i.e USA, Pakistan, India etc. Ahmadies were at the forefront of the Pakistan Independence movement and we are proud of it. As naturalized US citizens we have natural love for our country of origin Pakistan, but we are against its anti religious freedom laws. We condemn these types of laws and think that these are the vehicles used by groups like Taliban to legitimize there extremist ideologies and actions. These laws give sanctuary to the state sponsored persecution of minorities in Pakistan and elsewhere. We appeal to and urge all the just goverments of the world to put pressure on Pakistan and other Islamic governments to nullify these laws for the safety of their citizens and for the overall peace on the planet.

  • Secular

    Mr/Ms wb_usahmadimusli, I am very pleased that you have tried to respond to my post directly. While I respect your views I should beg to differ with you on many fronts. 1) you claim that it is part of your faith to be loyal to your country. This I find very unsettling that your loyalty to your country is dictated by the faith. SO if by accident of your birth you were born to parents of different faith then your loyalty to the country may be in jeopardy? I just cannot stomach that.

  • Secular

    Continued from below:2) You also claimed “Ahmadies were at the forefront of the Pakistan Independence movement and we are proud of it.” This seems to be in direct contradiction with 1). As I read your faith’s admonishment your loyalties back in 1940s should either have been with colonial British India or soon to be liberated India. I cannot see where in your faith there is a provision for division of a nation.3) What about more practical issues, at the time of division of India, did the Ahemedis’ subscribe to the view that they along with the Muslims would be oppressed by the majority Hindus? On what grounds was that? But when you look from the in-group morality and ethics, it becomes quite understandable.