Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Muhammad Azam Tahir - Uch Sharif, Punjab, Pakistan - Target killing

Mr. Muhammad Azam Tahir was murdered because of his faith on September 26, 2009 in the presence of his wife and daughter in Uch Sharif Distt. Bahawalpur, Punjab, Pakistan. He was returning on his motorcycle from a family wedding at 8:30 p.m. when two unknown persons brandishing a firearm forced him to stop. The assailants pointed a gun at him. Mr. Tahir pleaded with them to take whatever they wanted and leave him and his family alone, but as he said this, one of them shot him in the temple. He died on the spot. The assailants took nothing else and fled the scene. Video by MTA - Running time: 00:16:44

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monthly Newsreport - Ahmadiyya Persecution in Pakistan - September, 2009

Another Ahmadi murdered for his faith

Uch Sharif; September 26, 2009: Mr. Muhammad Azam Farooqi was murdered because of his faith on September 26, 2009 in the presence of his wife and daughter. He was returning on his motorcycle from a family wedding at 8:30 p.m. when two unknown persons brandishing a firearm forced him to stop. In the muddle Mr. Farooqi, his wife and daughter fell from the motorcycle. The assailants pointed a gun at him. Mr. Farooqi pleaded with them to take whatever they wanted and leave him and his family alone, but as he said this, one of them shot him in the temple. He died on the spot. The assailants took nothing else and fled the scene. It was a targeted killing; he was killed only for being an Ahmadi. Mr. Farooqi was in the medical profession. He was a helpful man, and was popular in the area. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

The Supreme Head of Ahmadiyya Community mentioned his martyrdom in his Friday sermon, and said:

“The opponents of our Jamaat may murder a few of our members; they may loot Ahmadis of their wealth; they may destroy our buildings; they may stop us constructing mosques, but they will never weaken our faith. …

The members of the Jamaat worldwide need to focus on prayers. Because the way the situation is developing it seems that Ahmadis, particularly in Pakistan, are going to face increased cruelty and hardship. Our ignorant opponents do not realise that their deeds are not harming our community, but in fact are harming the country and society at large.”

Ahmadi escapes a murderous attempt

Karachi; September 12, 2009: Twenty-nine year old Mr. Luqman Ahmad Gondal s/o Mr. Nasir Ahmad Gondal (president of the local Ahmadiyya community) closely escaped an attempt on his life. He departed from his house in the morning for his job. The bus of Abbot Laboratories picks him up daily a short distance from his home. As he made his way up to his regular pick up point, two men on a motorcycle approached him from behind and fired at him. The bullet pierced his hip. He was taken to a government hospital where the doctors simply administered the wound and bandaged it. However, afterwards he was taken to a private hospital where eleven stitches were required to seal the wound. The police registered an FIR. Mr. Luqman has no personal quarrel with anyone. He was targeted for his faith.

Arbitrary arrest of an Ahmadi

Badomalhi, district Narowal; September 29, 2009: Two Ahmadis, Mr. Javed Ahmad Malhi and Mr. Tahir Hameed have been falsely booked under Ahmadi-specific PPC 298-C at Police Station Badomalhi on September 29, 2009 with FIR 110/09 on a fabricated accusation. Mr. Mahli was arrested immediately, and the police are searching for the second accused.

The applicant Imran Faraz Butt accused him in the FIR of coming to his shop, beating him, and threatening him with grave consequences in case he did not fill in the form for initiation into the Jamaat Ahmadiyya etc. The complaint is obviously ridiculous and false.

The reality is that the applicant has business dealings with the accused. Butt borrowed some stock from the Pepsi agency of the accused. When the accused asked him for the payment, he refused to pay, and called his friends for assistance. After the incident the applicant went to nearby mosques, and started a propaganda campaign against the Ahmadiyya community. The next day he went to the police station along with a procession and had the case registered.

It is routine to use anti-Ahmadiyya laws to settle personal scores. This demands the immediate attention of the authorities. The central Ahmadiyya office at Rabwah brought it to the notice of all concerned.

Attack through state on freedom of worship

Raipur, District Sialkot: Drafters of the Ordinance XX, law specific to Ahmadis, targeted Ahmadiyya mosques in particular. They were of the opinion that an attack on Ahmadis’ places of worship would be one of the most effective ways to repress Ahmadiyyat. Accordingly, since the promulgation of the said ordinance, miscreants, with the support of authorities, have demolished 21 Ahmadi mosques, set 11 on fire, forcibly occupied 14 and barred construction of forty more. By hook or by crook the system deprives Ahmadis of their places of worship. In village Raipur, the Ahmadiyya mosque is built on a community plot designated as Shamlat Deh. The adjacent plot is used as a graveyard for non-Ahmadis. The care-taker of the graveyard applied to the Revenue Department to claim the plot of the Ahmadiyya mosque. The department conveniently granted him the claim. So, Ahmadis appealed to the court, who issued a stay order.

The care-taker thereafter had a criminal case registered against 7 Ahmadis. The defendants hurriedly approached a magistrate to seek bail before arrest, which was granted.

There is no shortage of officials who seek an easy entry into paradise by serving the cause of religion. The staff of Police Station Sabz Pir has acted accordingly. They have moved Article 145 to have the mosque sealed under the pretext that it was a ‘risk to law and order’.

Freedom of religion has strange interpretation in the land of the pure. The police consider it their right to close down the places of worship of ‘others’.

Lahore becomes a center of anti-Ahmadiyya activism

Lahore: Encouraged by the tacit but explicit policy of the provincial government and the federal government, the mullas have become very active in terms of their anti-Ahmadiyya activities. Incidents have occurred in various neighborhoods of Lahore since the new government took over after the February 2008 election. Here we report the latest developments in Model Town and Green Town areas of the provincial capital.

Office-holders of the Aalami Majlis Tahaffuz Khatme Nabuwwat Model Town recently wrote an application to the Chief Secretary of Punjab in which they conveyed that at the Ahmadi place of worship Bait un Noor in Model Town Ahmadis preach, distribute literature, post armed guards at the time of Friday prayers and use loud speaker. Ahmadis also offer Eid Prayers in the adjacent ground “thereby violating PPC 298-B and C, so action should be taken against them”. This was the mullas’ demand.

At this the administration ordered an inquiry by a Deputy District Officer. He wrote in his report that Ahmadis have a mosque in Model Town where they offer their prayers in the traditional way of Fiqh Hanafia; they do not preach, nor do they distribute literature; they post armed guards on Fridays for self-defence, they use loudspeakers in low volume, and their neighbors have no objection to that.

Despite the above report the authorities prevented Ahmadis from holding the Eid prayers in the ground where they had been congregating annually for this purpose for years. They had no option but to pray inside the building. However mullas arrived in Model Town in numbers shouting slogans and abuse at Ahmadis and declared their own intentions to offer their prayers in the ground. The police prohibited them from doing so, and registered a case against them. Some of these miscreants had come all the way from Sargodha, Bahawalpur and Rawalpindi like mullas Akram Toofani (cyclone), Afan Farooqui and Shiraz Bhatti. However, no arrests were made.

The clerics, in view of the police report favourable to Ahmadis, applied to the Sessions Judge, Lahore to order the police to register a case under Ahmadi-specific laws PPC 298-B and C against seven named Ahmadi notables. The judge was happy to oblige the mulla, and ordered the police to register a case.

The Daily Times of Lahore reported in its issue of September 29, 2009 that the Green Town (Lahore) Police was “set to launch an operation to remove verses of the Holy Quran from more than 20 shops of Ahmadiyya community on College Road, Township, on the complaint of local traders.

The above-mentioned incidents show a clear trend of state-supported lack of tolerance, curbing of religious freedom, and tyranny against a peaceful community. The Taliban are not isolated in Fata; they have spread into the heart of the plains of the Punjab and enjoy support of plenipotentiaries.

Ahmadis in Lathianwala remain under great pressure

Lathianwala, District Faisalabad; September 24, 2009: It will be recalled that on behest of anti-Ahmadi agitators in Faisalabad the police booked as many as 32 Ahmadis in July under the blasphemy clause and the law specific to Ahmadis. Subsequently a heavy police contingent desecrated the Ahmadiyya mosque in the village and removed Islamic and religious inscriptions from all Ahmadiyya houses. These Ahmadis are on temporary bail until September 30.

The mulla, however, is bent upon mischief. A number of clerics railed against the Ahmadis of Lathianwala in their Friday Sermons. The religious leadership is busy in instituting further agitation. The Sunni Tehrik, a politico-religious sectarian party sent a group of armed mischief-mongers to Lathianwala on 24th September. They parked their vehicle in front of the entrance of an Ahmadi home. Ahmadi children came out and touched the vehicle. At this the visitors started making noise as to why the children even touched their vehicle. They shouted threats, moved over to the bazaar, collected some local colleagues who brought along fire-arms. These gangsters started firing at Ahmadis. Ahmadi youth also fired in self-defence. At this the attackers retreated. In this exchange, three young Ahmadi young men received minor injuries.

The police came to know of the developments and arrived at the scene. At this the attackers fled. The police and senior officials stayed on late into the night. The police SHO refused to register a case based upon the injuries to the Ahmadi youth. The next day, at the orders of the Superintendent of Police Jaranwala, the SHO registered a case against 24 men of each party under an anti-terrorism clause. This is a bizarre form of non-partisanship and justice.

Unlawful detention and torture of Ahmadi innocent by Rawalpindi police

Rawalpindi: Rawalpindi is often referred to as the twin city of Islamabad. The police here share the Federal Government’s lack of concern for the human rights of Ahmadis. May be, they take their cue from the capital of the Punjab, from where they receive their orders.

Malik Ghulam Mustafa, an Ahmadi, lives in the neighborhood of Muslim Town. He is facing harassment from local extremist elements. He used to drive a taxi, but had to stop doing so in the face of this opposition. He decided to start a general store business along with his two sons Irfan Ahmad and Adnan Ahmad. Last month someone abducted the maid of a non-Ahmadi family residing in the same plaza. They wrongfully accused Irfan and Adnan of involvement in the crime. The police arrested Irfan Ahmad and kept him in detention for eight days. When presented in the court, the parents of the girl told the court that they did not suspect Irfan’s hand in the case; so he was released.

More recently, on September 7, the police took Irfan Ahmad once again. On this occasion he was also beaten up. He had fever in the preceding days. His parents and relatives are worried and upset. They have written to the Supreme Head of the Community for prayers.

Malicious agitation in Azad Kashmir

Organized opposition and agitation is rife in Azad Kashmir these days, and in Bhimbar area particularly. Organizations banned officially for their terrorist activities have changed their names and are taking a leading role in the anti-Ahmadiyya drive. They distribute provocative literature, issue fatwas of death, and assault Ahmadis, damage their businesses while authorities shirk from providing security to these victims.

The extremist elements enjoy support from some political heavy weights.

Ahmadiyya headquarters have reported the situation to the authorities and requested relief.

It would be appropriate to quote from the hate literature that is being distributed, to provide an insight into this campaign of hate. Excerpt (translated from Urdu):

It is highly regrettable that the group of damned apostates who should have been put to the sword, and the party of heretics who should have been hanged, these thieves of the End of Prophethood who should have been tossed in blood and dust, who should have been cut to pieces, continue to be a part of our social fabric in Azad Kashmir Kotli, Mirpur, Bhimbar, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan and through out the world of Islam.

It further states:

Read it yourself, and pass it on to others as well. This literature is published fortnightly.

The distributors have given their contact address:


These groups are obviously free to operate openly, and are quite safe from the authorities who only pay lip service to opposition to extremism and sectarianism.

The Layyah Five

Multan: It will be recalled that five Ahmadis including four school children were booked under the blasphemy law PPC 295-C in district Layyah early this year. They remained in prison for almost six months before the High Court accepted their plea for release on bail. The incident attracted worldwide attention from the human rights lobby.

These accused are now facing trial in a sessions court at Multan. The judge has ordered a medical report on the teenagers to assess if they are adults, because that is relevant to the penalty of ‘death’ under this clause.

Although the police investigation stated clearly that there was no proof or witnesses to the alleged incident, the authorities continue to pursue these innocent victims. This is ample proof of the bigotry and hypocrisy of the officials and politicians. The Punjab government should bear direct responsibility for further victimization of the innocent boys.

Burial denied

Bavewali 232/RB, District Faisalabad

August 2, 2009: An Ahmadi, Mr. M. Afzal died here on August 2, 2009. Preparations for his burial were being carried out when the Imam of the local mosque threatened on the loudspeaker that the burial of Muhammad Afzal would not be allowed in a Muslim graveyard nor would any Muslim observe his funeral prayer. This graveyard is not exclusive to any sect; 15 Ahmadis’ graves are already situated here. The police intervened and reprimanded the mulla for his announcement, and assured security to the Ahmadis. However, by the time the dead body was about to be taken to the graveyard, a hostile crowd had gathered there. The police thereafter wilted, and advised caution to Ahmadis. Ahmadi elders then decided to take the body to another village for burial.

Chak No. 426/GB, District Toba Tek Singh;

September 7, 2009: Mrs. Abdul Majeed died on September 6, 2009. A grave was prepared in the common graveyard the following day for her burial. Some miscreants arrived at the scene and opposed the burial. The authorities and the elders of the locality intervened, and allocated a separate plot for the burial of Ahmadi dead. A grave was dug up there, and the burial took place.

Khurpa, district Sialkot

September 12, 2009: Mr. Rahmat Ali, an 80 year old Ahmadi, died here, and a grave was prepared for him in the common graveyard. Some miscreants and extremists gathered there to oppose and stop his burial. The DSP Pasroor arrived at the scene. He advised Ahmadis to bury him at another location, and he undertook that the graveyard would be divided in the next few days after which the dead body could be shifted back. Ahmadis decided to take the coffin to a nearby village, but a non-Ahmadi friend offered a piece of his own land where the burial then took place.

A Khatme Nabuwwat conference at Rabwah

Director Public Affairs, Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Rabwah addressed the following letter to various authorities of the Punjab and the Federation (translation):


Assalamo Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarkatoh

I draw your kind attention to an important and sensitive issue.

According to the press reports, opponents of the Ahmadiyya community have scheduled a Khatme Nabuwwat conference at Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) on September 7, 2009. It is significant to note that the said conference is being held in the holy month of Ramadan.

Ninety-five percent of the population of Chenab Nagar (Rabwah) is Ahmadi, and they are not allowed to hold their annual conferences and educational functions and events in this town. However, their opponents are entirely free to transport outsiders to Rabwah and hold conferences, take out processions, abuse Ahmadi elders on loud-speakers, make provocative moves and create law and order problems through their rallies. Now, once again, a conference is scheduled on September 7. This is likely to pose a threat to the peace of the town. As in the past, this year again it is likely that the participants will be from organizations that are officially banned (for terrorism). These people come out in the town in groups, move about in residential areas, and make provocative gestures near Ahmadiyya places of worship. There is likelihood of an unpleasant incident in the town on account of the said conference.

In the above-mentioned circumstances it would be appropriate not to permit the holding of this conference or provide it official patronage. In case the permission is granted, the participants should be restricted to use only the main roads and routes. They should be told not to misbehave with women, not to indulge in provocative slogans or indiscriminate use of sound amplifiers. Speeches that incite hatred and communal discord, thereby posing a threat to law and order should be prohibited.

In case of an untoward incident the organizers and the authorities will be responsible.

Last year, an identical request was made to you but unfortunately it proved futile.

We hope that you will now take appropriate steps to maintain law and order in the town.

This is an issue of sensitive nature, and deserves immediate attention.

Yours sincerely,

Saleem ud din
Director Public Affairs
Rabwah (Chenab Nagar), District Chiniot

The conference was permitted nevertheless.

A press report on Khatme Nabuwwat conference in Rabwah

Rabwah; September 7, 2009: Opponents of Ahmadiyyat were permitted to hold a conference at Rabwah despite a request from the Ahmadiyya head office that there was no justification for such a conference at Rabwah, organized by non-resident mullas. As expected, the speakers made provocative speeches full of hate and fabrications. Below we reproduce extracts from a press report published in the daily Nawa-i-Waqt of Lahore on September 9, 2009 (translation):

The tragedy at Gojra is the work of Qadianis. Their activities should be banned, demand Ulama in the Khatme Nabuwwat Conference
We shall defend the national ideological and physical frontiers with our lives. We shall not tolerate any change in the blasphemy law.
Sharia penalty for apostasy (death) should be imposed, and a column of religion should be added in the national identity card. Maulana Muhammad Ahmad Ludhianwi, Ilyas Chinioti, Maulana Alam Tariq and others addressed the conference. Various resolutions were passed.

Chiniot (correspondent): The 22nd Annual International Khatme Nabuwwat Conference held under the auspices of the International Khatme Nabuwwat came to an end in the small hours of the morning, having lasted all night…. The ulama said that Jews and Hindus were following their agenda of the break-up of Pakistan. Their agents should be mindful that so long as the ulama are there, none can dare do that…. Muslims can tolerate a lot but not defiling the Quran and the name of their Prophet. A number of resolutions were passed at the conference whereby it was accepted that Qadianis were busy conspiring against Islam and Pakistan. A ban should be imposed on their activities…. The Government Jamia Nusrat Girls College should be renamed Jamia Syedah Aisha Siddiqa, and Nusrat Girls High School Chenab Nagar should be renamed Jamia Syedah Fatimah-tul-Zohra…. A column of religion should be added to the computerized national identity card or the colour of Muslims’ card should be different so as to ensure distinctive religious identity in accordance with the constitution and law. Qadianis are busy buying land around Chenab Nagar at hundred times the (normal) cost so as to establish a state like Israel. The authorities should take note of this conspiracy. Penalty of (death for) apostasy should be imposed as recommended by the Islamic Ideology Council. The conference severely condemned the American drone attacks. …

Conduct of the daily Jang, the leading vernacular paper

September 7, 2009: The daily Jang has adopted anti-Ahmadiyya policy to promote its sales and to curry favour with the clerics. It issues a special edition annually on September 7 to celebrate the day when through an amendment to the constitution, Ahmadis were declared non-Muslims by Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto in 1974.

Editors and column-writers of this daily never tire of preaching morality to others. However, when it comes to political mullas, the paper spares all its space to support them in curbing religious freedom of others and making shameful demands. For instance this time an essay written by Mufti Khalid Mahmud unabashedly recommends death for so-called apostasy, ban on propagation of dissenting religious opinion, imprisonment for use of epithets forbidden by the state, forcible take over of places of worship of ‘heretics’, usurpation of their property etc. This so-called ‘free press’ uses its freedom to curb universal human rights and freedom of others. This it does despite the state’s declared policy to disown and discredit communalism. The Jang defiles the dictates of social and governmental consensus that spreading communal hatred is evil.

The Mufti, however, must take credit for not repeating the lie that 10,000 were ‘martyred’ during the anti-Ahmadiyya riots in 1953.

The daily Jang is edited by Abid Abdullah, and its Chief Executive (Editor) is Mir Shakil ur Rahman.

A profile in courage

London: Mr. Altaf Hussain, the Quaid of MQM, now residing in London talked about Ahmadis in Pakistan in a television interview. It was reported in the Daily Express of September 9, 2009. Excerpts (translation):

I do not want an Islamic Republic; I want a Peoples Republic of Pakistan where everyone should be free to live in accordance with his faith. I do not want a Pakistan of pretended mullas and politicians. … In 1988 when we won seats in the National Assembly, I toured the entire country. I noticed that the country was occupied by thieves and robbers and looters of national wealth. If a petty official takes bribe he is sent to prison, but the feudal lords who take loans worth trillions, get these remitted and excused….
The MQM is the only party whose leader issued a message of condolence on the demise of the Qadiani Amir, Mirza Tahir Beg (sic). A number of daily papers wrote editorials that I had committed Kufr. Well, I am going to commit the Kufr again, let anyone who wishes to, issue a fatwa. Qadianis who live in Pakistan should have full freedom to live in accordance with their faith and belief. It is their right. Qadianis, like other minorities, should have complete freedom to propagate their dogma. I have read Ahmadiyya literature. Their Kalima (Islamic creed) is the same as ours. They also believe in the Finality of Prophethood of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The first Nobel Prize laureate of Pakistan, Dr Abdus Salam was an Ahmadi. It would be most unjust of us not to accept that. When the MQM comes to power, I will request the authorities to let me establish a (big) compound where I shall build a Mosque, a Gurdawara (for Sikhs), a (Hindu) Temple, a church and also an Ahmadiyya Mosque. All of them will worship in their own way at their own timings in that compound. …
Religion has nothing to do with politics. Whenever you bring in religion, you will get nowhere. I say, do not hate (on the basis of) how one worships. Do not distribute tickets for heaven and hell; everyone worships (the same) God.

A TV program mentions the Ahmadiyya situation in Pakistan

September 3, 2009: A TV channel Express News holds a weekly talk-show “Point Blank with Lucman” which is hosted by Mr. Mobashir Lucman. Lucman is known for discussing sensitive issues. On September 3, 2009 he had invited three mullas, Jalil Naqvi a Shia, Amir ul Azim of Jamaat Islami and Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, a Brelvi political cleric. Lucman took up the issue of Ahmadiyyat for about 10 minutes. It is rare that the electronic media mentions Ahmadiyyat; occasionally when it does, it provides an opportunity to the mulla to restate his aggressive and obscure position.

Lucman introduced the subject by showing a video of the incident of Lathianwala where the police undertook the sacrilege of defiling the Ahmadiyya mosque. The three participating mullas and viewers all over Pakistan saw how the state was involved in violating Ahmadis’ human rights and freedom of religion by removing the Kalima (Islamic creed) with a chisel and covering up other holy inscriptions with paint and cement from Ahmadis’ homes. The incident must have shocked most of the viewers but the penal of mullas was not impressed.

Lucman asked them: “These holy inscriptions are being broken up with hammer and chisel. This whole big tile, on which Allah and Masha Allah are written, fell down in the gutter below. Let me tell you that this place is a Masjid of Jamaat Ahmadiyya from which the Kalima is being defaced while the worshippers are (seen) offering prayers (Namaz). All the homes (that were shown) belong to Ahmadis. I do not belong to any sect, particularly Jamaat Ahmadiyya, but I do know that defiling the Kalima or Quranic verses (that is a sin), what should be done about this? Will you please tell me?”

At this Allama Naqvi, the Shia took the plea that as the constitution of Pakistan has declared Ahmadis non-Muslims they should forego their link with Islamic practices like other non-Muslims. The Allama conveniently forgot that the fatwas of the majority of the ulama on the Kufr of Shias are more numerous and more severe than against Ahmadis.

Tahir Ashrafi suggested that ‘Qadianis’ should have their own logo and Kalima as they believe in Mirza Qadiani. Ashrafi did not mention the fact that Brelvis have their own whole range of saints whom they are accused of worshipping.

But the most ludicrous of the three responses was from none other than the mulla representing Jamaat Islami, Amir ul Azim. He said, “What I say is on the basis of ‘copyright.’ As you cannot permit me to name my own (TV) channel as Express or name my own cola as Pepsi or Coca Cola, use and write their logos, and then say: let the people decide as to which one is real and which one is fake, which one is better and which is not good.” Only Azim could have the audacity to compare the licenses for a TV channel or Coca Cola with the institution of a worldwide religion. Lucman should have offered to show him the ‘license’ for the Express News and demanded from him the license that the Jamaat Islami has got from Allah to appropriate all the copyrights of Islam.

One wishes that Lucman would also invite an Ahmadi to join his program; however there is the great risk that the Blasphemy law and laws specific to Ahmadis would be invoked against any participating Ahmadi.

Islamabad; September 30, 2009: According to a press report Maulana Fazlur Rahman of JUI(F) has offered to mediate talks between the government and Taliban. As he is active in promoting the violation of Ahmadi human rights, we record and report below extracts from this press report (translation):

Maulana Fazl ur Rahman informed the media of his successful talks with the Prime Minister of Pakistan and stated that the government had promised to accept the demands of JUI(F) and has formed an 8-member committee to implement through legislation the recommendations of the Islamic Ideology Council. “As such we have delayed our decision to quit the government,” he said. He expressed the hope that these negotiations would not prove as futile as the government’s promises in the past. Maulana Fazl ur Rahman said that the legislation of CII recommendations is only a few days away. He further stated that the prime minister had issued instructions to the ministries of interior and foreign affairs to make a fresh policy in light of the Joint Resolution of the National Assembly passed in-camera regarding national security. In reply to a question, Maulana Fazl ur Rahman offered that he could act as an arbitrator in negotiations between the government and the Taliban…. He said, “We intend to confront American intervention.”
The daily Jang, September 30, 2009

It is relevant to mention that the CII has recommended, inter alia, the penalty of death for apostasy. The JUI(F) and JI members of the National Assembly proposed a draft bill on apostasy with the Assembly in May 2007. There are strong indications that this mulla is trying to push the bill for which there is no precedent in the Holy Quran.

His offer of ‘arbitration’ betrays his close links with the Taliban who continue to kill innocent civilians by the droves within Pakistan and across the border.

A quotable quote from an independent source on Ahmadiyya human rights

The monthly Herald, Karachi of August 2009 published an interview of Mr. Iqbal Haider, a leading human rights activist in Pakistan. Its excerpts are reproduced below:

It’s shocking that three percent non-Muslims can make 97 percent of Muslims feel insecure.
Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and senior Supreme Court lawyer
“The most discriminatory piece of legislation against non-Muslims is the Constitution of Pakistan that makes it mandatory for the president to be Muslim. …
As law minister, I conducted a survey about blasphemy cases and found out that with some minor exceptions all these cases were motivated by personal enmity, prejudices and local rivalries. …
The societal discrimination they face deprives them of equality of opportunity which is a basic requirement for a democracy. Ahmadis are the worst victims of such discrimination and deprivation, mainly because they refuse to regard themselves as non-Muslims whereas the state and the society are unwilling to let them have any rights, let alone the freedom to practice their religion.
Pakistan, in fact, has the most oppressive laws when it comes to Ahmadis and the suspicion runs so deep that even the non-Ahmadis – if and when they want to run in an election or when they apply for their identity papers – have to submit affidavits that they are not Ahmadis and that they firmly believe in the finality of the Prophethood of Mohammad (pbuh). No such laws exist anywhere else in the world. …
A law prohibits them (Ahmadis) from calling themselves Muslims or pretending, portraying and presenting themselves as Muslims. They are forbidden from reciting the Kalima, they are not allowed to read the Holy Quran and they cannot call their places of worship mosques. They cannot even use certain names for themselves that may allow them to be regarded as Muslims. This is the most extreme form of discrimination which exists nowhere else. …
But the worst example of such discrimination shows up in the way those accused of blasphemy are treated. Many of them are murdered by the policemen who are supposed to protect them as undertrial prisoners. Others face openly hostile religious fanatics during their trials. Apparently, the courts cannot check aggressive gesturing and abusive language against the accused because the fanatics intimidate the courts through show of strength. The authorities never have the courage to control, contain or arrest such aggressive, extremist and religious militants.”
The monthly Herald, August 2009

Ahmadis behind bars

  1. Mr. Muhammad Iqbal was imprisoned for life in a fabricated case of blasphemy. He was arrested in September 2004, and is now incarcerated in the Central Jail, Faisalabad. An appeal lies with the Lahore High Court against the decision of the Sessions Court. It is registered as Criminal Appeal No. 89/2005. He is now in the sixth year of his imprisonment. His appeal is under process these days.
  2. Three Ahmadis namely Mr. Basharat, Mr. Nasir Ahmad and Mr. Muhammad Idrees along with 7 others of Chak Sikandar were arrested in September 2003 on a false charge of murder of a cleric, alleged by opponents of the Jamaat. The police, after due investigation found no evidence against the accused. Yet these men still faced ‘complaint trial’ for a crime they did not commit. Based on the unreliable testimony of the two alleged eye-witnesses (who were proven false in the court) the court acquitted seven of the accused, but on the evidence of the same two liars the court sentenced these three innocent Ahmadis to death. They are being held in a death row at a prison in Jehlum, while their appeal lies with the Lahore High Court. They are now in the seventh year of their incarceration. Their appeal to the Lahore High Court is registered as Criminal Appeal No. 616/2005 dated 26 April 2005.
  3. Dr. Muhammad Asghar was arrested on a fabricated charge of blasphemy in June 2008. The judge rejected his plea for bail. The police investigation found him innocent. Subsequently his plea for bail has been rejected by the High Court — and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has directed his expeditious trial which is now in progress.
From the press
37 non-muslims including 13 Qadianis converted to Islam in a ceremony at the mosque of Hanter Pura.
The daily Musawat; Lahore, September 3, 2009

Blasphemy law should be revised and its unfair application should be stopped. — NA Standing Committee
The daily Din; Lahore, September 02, 2009

Asma for abolishing blasphemy laws.
Taseer for repeal of the blasphemy law.
The daily Nation; Lahore, September 18, 2009

We accept the Constitution of 1973; the blasphemy amendment was propped up during Zia regime, and no political party is in accord with it. The corrupt ulama called the Quaid-e-Azam a Kafar-e-Azam. I am not afraid of them. — (Governor) Taseer
The daily Waqt; Lahore, September 19, 2009

The country will face civil war, if the blasphemy law is abolished. — Jamaat-e-Islami
The daily Ausaf; Lahore, September 18, 2009

The security of minorities is an integral part of the faith. There is no question of amending the blasphemy law. — Shujaat, Pervaiz Elahi
The daily Khabrain; Lahore, September 20, 2009

Salman Taseer and Asma Jahangir are trying to please the Jews and Qadianis. — Rae Akram
The daily Nawa-i-Waqt; Lahore, September 20, 2009

Minorities are living in fear, says WCC.
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 02, 2009

HRCP worried about attacks on minorities
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 15, 2009

9/11 was a conspiracy of the U.S. against Muslims. — Munawar Hasan
The daily Khabrain; Lahore, September 11, 2009

The drive to annul the Blasphemy law is a Qadiani conspiracy. The country will thereby face situation like that in 1974. — International Khatme Nabuwwat
Muslims will offer their lives to defend the law. The Governor Punjab should seek pardon from the people. — Ilyas Chinioti
The demand of annulment of this law is shameful. — Ahmad Ludhianwi
Lawyers observe strike to protest the Governor’s statement.
Sunni Tehrik will hold ‘Day of Condemnation’ against Mirzaiat on September 25 and hold demonstrations on October 2.
The daily Ausaf; September 25, 2009

30 Killed in Kohat blast
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 19, 2009

20 Killed including 6 members of the Peace Committee in Bunair
The daily Waqt; Lahore, September 25, 2009

Audacious attacks on minister in capital; driver killed
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 03, 2009

Blasphemy case against ‘Faith healer’
Earlier the police registered on Friday FIR No 434/09 under section 298 and 298-A of the PPC against faith healer Abdullah and his wife Shazia and arrested them for injuring the feelings of the Muslims by claiming that their 10 month old son was Imam Mehdi.
According to the FIR Saleem and other accused uttered derogatory remarks against wearing beard by Muslims, which according to them was not a Sunnah of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but a ritual of Sikhism.
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 03, 2009

Team constituted to investigate burning of Hindu holy books
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 13, 2009

Blasphemy accused found dead in Sialkot jail
The daily Nation; Lahore, September 16, 2009

Church set on fire near Sialkot
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 12, 2009

18 women die in Karachi (in) free food stampede.
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 15, 2009

Nawaz met Osama four times to have the Benazir government dismissed. — Brig Malik Mumtaz
The daily Khabrain; Lahore, September 29, 2009

Pakistan at extreme food security risk — Food Security Risk Index
The daily Dawn; Lahore, September 08, 2009

700 Belgian schools to ban headscarves
Brussels: About one fifth of all schools in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking Flanders region will ban pupils from wearing Muslim headscarves they said on Friday. “This decision promotes the feeling of equality and prevents group formation or segregation on the basis of external symbols of life philosophy”, said a statement from school, which number about 700. Most schools in Flanders are Catholic.
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 12, 2009


Christians targeted again
When Pakistani scholars assert that Pakistan is in the grip of extremism, they are pointing to two locations where it is gestated and spread around: the madrassah and the mosque. Alas, both places are free of activists carrying the moderate message of the state. Equally sadly, the Christian community has lost all faith in the state and is demanding repeal of the Blasphemy law. The government has weakly concealed only ‘procedural changes’ while admitting that the mischief lies in the law.
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 13, 2009

Death of blasphemy accused
The latest death has burdened the conscience of Pakistan with one more collective crime. The state, forewarned, has instead relied on its old reflex of looking away and letting an innocent man die.
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 17, 2009

For and against Blasphemy Law
Both the mainstream parties want the law repealed. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in his memoir complains that Nawaz Sharif as a prime minister wanted to change the Blasphemy law but Ms Bhutto did not help in Parliament. Later Ms Bhutto returned to power in 1993 and wanted to change the law but this time Nawaz Sharif did not help.
The PPP and the PML(N) are busy fighting their other less worthy battles in Parliament, but if they had the wellbeing of the country at heart they could have joined hands to repeal the Blasphemy Law and they faced up to the extremist backlash just as the country is finally confronting the terrorism of the Taliban. There is no other way to tell the killers of our Christian Community that they have to stop this horrible pastime.
The Daily Times; Lahore, September 18, 2009

When Punjab Governor Suleman Taseer suggested it, the Amir of Jamaat-e-Islami, Syed Munawar Hasan, reacted by saying that those who ask for repeal (of the blasphemy laws) also commit blasphemy.
Kunwar Idrees in the daily Dawn; Lahore, September 27, 2009

The survival of Afghanistan and Pakistan is dependent on their cooperation with each other to eliminate militancy and extremism.
From review on book ‘Recovering the Frontier State…’ authored by
Rasul Bakhsh Rais; in the Dawn supplement on September 06, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Indonesia: Govt urged to respect Ahmadiyah rights

---The Jakarta Post, Indonesia

National | Thu, 10/15/2009 11:59 AM

Govt urged to respect Ahmadiyah rights

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A series of attacks on followers of the Ahmadiyah religious sect has once again drawn criticism, with an expert in religion and democracy urging the government to exercise its authority when there are violations of human rights.

Alfred C. Stepan, director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion at Columbia University in New York, said on the sidelines of a discussion held Tuesday that while the government must keep a principal distance, the separation did not mean the state should never get involved in religious matters.

“They should think more about whether there are circumstances in which they have to act quickly because I think it is the government’s responsibility if people’s rights are in peril,” he said.

Followers of the Ahmadiyah group are deemed heretics by mainstream Muslims for recognizing sect founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the last prophet.

Islamic teachings maintain that the Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued an edict officially declaring Ahmadiyah to be a heretical sect.

For years, followers of the religious sect have suffered attacks from various Muslim groups. Some of the attacks, which involved hard-line Muslims, resulted in the fire-bombing of Ahmadiyah mosques and houses.

Stepan said the attacks were violations of human rights and therefore the government’s intervention was needed.

“It is the duty of a democratic government to protect its people’s rights even if they have to act against some people’s freedom,” he said.

Although such measures should not go against the constitution, he said.

In the discussion, Stepan also said that Indonesia was a place where democracy and religions coexisted.

Indonesia, he noted, recognized and respected all the major religions, except Judaism.

“India and Senegal are also examples of democracies that recognize and financially support all religions, but keep some principal distance that would allow the state at times to interfere in the religion *if there were human rights violations*,” he added.

However, he said, the Indonesian government had shown much less willingness to exercise the principal distance than the other two countries.

“That may be a problem,” he added.

Stepan said that in all democracies, tolerance on the state’s part and the religions’ part were needed. Stepan terms the concept “twin tolerations”.

For democracy to function, he said, democratically elected governments must tolerate citizens’ legitimate aspirations, “as long as they do not hurt other people”.

“In pure democratic theory, any group that doesn’t violate other people’s rights has the right to articulate some of their ideas in civil society,” he said.

At the same time, religious hard-liners cannot reject the sovereignty of an elected government; instead forcing religious rules on the populace.

“That’s too great a restriction on democracy,” he said.

Theoretically, twin tolerations would allow religion to act in the area of the civil society, he said.

But, “the twin tolerations could also break down if someone violates it from the other side, if this happens the government must have some role in it,” he added.

Stepan also said that fundamentalism does not necessarily not pose an obstacle to democracy.

He added his research in India showed the greater the intensity of religious practice, the greater the intensity of support for democracy.

There are about 200,000 practicing Ahmadis in Indonesia. (adh)

URL: www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/10/...madiyah-rights.html

Persecution of minorities and women in South Asia

---Weekly Blitz, Bangladesh

OCTOBER 14, 2009

Persecution of minorities and women in South Asia

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury

Right before the end of British rule in Indian sub-continent in 1947, several riot amongst various religious groups, mainly amongst Muslims and Hindus took place in India and Pakistan [the then West and East Pakistan], causing severe rise of religious hatred amongst the people in the region. Subsequently, massive Muslim persecution in Gujrat, Sikh Persecution in Punjab by the Indian government, persecution of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Persecution of Christians in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well persecution of religious minorities in almost all the countries in South Asia gradually generated deep rooted hatred amongst the people belonging to various religious beliefs. The Partition of India was the partition of British India that led to the creation, on August 14, 1947 and August 15, 1947, respectively, of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan [later Islamic Republic of Pakistan and People's Republic of Bangladesh] and the Union of India [later Republic of India]. The partition of India included the geographical division of the Bengal province of British India into East Pakistan and West Bengal [India], and the similar partition of the Punjab province into West Punjab [later Punjab - Pakistan and Islamabad Capital Territory] and East Punjab [later Punjab – India, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh], and also the division of other assets, including the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service and other administrative services, the Indian railways, and the central treasury. The partition was promulgated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Indian Empire. In the aftermath of Partition, the princely states of India, which had been left by the Indian Independence Act 1947 to choose whether to accede to India or Pakistan or to remain outside them, were all incorporated into one or other of the new dominions. The question of the choice to be made in this connection by Jammu and Kashmir led to the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 and other wars and conflicts between India and Pakistan. Stable democratic nation like India could not free itself of curse of communalism even more than fifty years after independence. If anything it has been getting worse year after year. There has been not a single year in post-independence period, which has been free of communal violence though number of incidents may vary. The year 2002 has been one of the worst years in this matter right from the beginning as the Gujarat carnage began in the very beginning of the year. In the year 2002 the first reported riot took place in Kozhikode [Calicut], Kerala on 3rd January. In the clashes between two communities [Hindus and Muslims] five persons were killed. The clashes occurred on the question of eve teasing. The whole region came in the grip of violence. More than twenty persons were injured including five women. Properties worth millions of rupees were destroyed. A heavy police bandobast was made to bring the situation under control. Kerala is generally thought to be free of communal violence. But occasionally it also experiences such frenzy and bout of communal violence. However, it is generally brought under control as the Kerala government usually does not allow things to go out of had.

Gujarat was next to come under intense bout of communal carnage. It was of the kind, which India had never experienced accept at the time of partition. The communal carnage in Gujarat shook whole world. It was difficult to believe such intense communal frenzy could be incited by the BJP for its political gains. More than 2000 people were killed most cruelly in this carnage according to very reliable sources though the Government admits only about 1000 dead.

The Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP], the Bajrang Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] gave a call for bandh [general strike] on 28th February and violent incidents started from the morning of 28th February, particularly in Ahmedabad. And before the sun set on 28th February more than 100 persons were killed in Ahmedabad alone. Most ghastly incidents took place in a place called Naroda Patia where more than 80 persons were burnt alive including women and children and number of women were raped in full gaze of public. The other ghastly incident took place in Gulbarg Society, Chamanpura where about 40 persons were burnt alive including a former member of parliament named Ahsan Jafri from Congress Party.

What is worse the Chief Mister Narendra Modi justified such frenzy and described it as reaction to action in Godhra. And all this happened with full complicity of the police and bureaucracy. The honest officers who did not allow carnage in their areas were instantly transferred by the Narendra Modi Government.

Some ministers who led the mobs have been named in case lodged after the incident. Many mosques and mausoleums were demolished and ground was leveled. Some accounts maintain about 700 such religious structures were brought down or severely damaged. Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mehsana and Panchmahal districts were the worst affected districts covering entire north and central Gujarat. There have been various estimates of the properties destroyed but generally it is maintained properties worth more than US$ 1.5 billion were looted or burnt. The business lost due to closures and migration of labour is several times this figure. Hundreds of Muslim families were totally uprooted. The carnage continued for more than five months.

The next riot took place in Kaithal, at Indian state of Haryana. Though the cause of the violence on disturbances on 28th February is not clear but it seems to be related to Gujarat incidents. According to The Hindustan Times report Shiv Sena, Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP] and Bajrang Dal mobs pulled down a mosque and caused extensive damage to two others. They damaged at least four mausoleums and enforced a complete bandh. Prohibitory orders were later clamped down on the town.

During the general strike Maharashtra called by the Shiv Sena, Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP] and Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] on 1st March 2002 to protest the setting ablaze of coach of the Sabarmati Express on 27th February 2002 in Godhra a violent mob went on rampage in Murbad 80 kilometer from Mumbai. Fortunately Murbad was the only town affected during the call for bandh by the Sangh Parivar.

During the general strike in Murbad in India the Bajrang Dal alliance began looting and burning Muslims shops. It also looted the houses of two prosperous grain merchants and set fire to a jeep [cross-country vehicle] belonging to a transporter. The general strike was total and all shops were closed. The mob was also determined to attack the families of some of the well to do Muslim shopkeepers. But they fled minutes before the attack and saved themselves.

The Police claimed that it fired 13 rounds in the air but the Minorities Commission said that it did not come across anyone who could corroborate the police claim. The Police claimed that they had arrested 32 people including the local Bajrang Dal leaders and charged them with attempted murder, arson and lootings. The Muslims are a microscopic minority in Morbad and are afraid of giving any details of damage to the madrasa and are praising the role of the police, according to the Minorities Commission.

On 17th March 2002 communal incidents took place in Loharu in Bhivani district of Haryana in India. Loharu was once under a Muslim ruler. There is thus Muslim population in this town. A mob of three hundred incited by the rumour of cow slaughter attacked two mosques and at least 15 shops and houses belonging to the minority community. The police had to fire in the air when the mob could not be controlled by tear gas charges.

When the people belonging to the majority community heard that a cow has been taken for slaughter in one of the mosques, it attacked and set fire to this mosque and shops nearby. According to a media reports quoting the police sources, a mob of 300 Shiv Sainiks [Soldiers of Shiva] set fire at another mosque near the railway station and many shops in the adjacent area.

Next incidents of communal violence in India took place in three places in Rajasthan in which three persons were killed on 25th March 2002 on the occasion of Muharram. The immediate provocation was the holding of poornahuti yagnas [a Hindu religious ritual] and kirtans [Hindu religious songs] at various temples on the route of Muharram processions.

Curfew had to be clamped in the town of Gangapur, 80 kilo meters from Sawai Madhopur, in central Rajasthan where 3 people were killed and 15 injured in police firing. According to the police, violence broke out when activists of the Viswa Hindu Parishad [VHP], Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] and Bajrang Dal sat inside an ancient Hanumanji temple for religious rituals. They began to chant provocative anti-Muslim slogans when the Muharram procession came closer to the temple.

Persecution of Sikhs:

Operation Blue Star, which continued during 3–6 June 1984 was an Indian military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, to remove Sikh separatists who were amassing weapons in the Golden Temple [Holy Temple of Sikhs] in Amritsar [India]. The operation was launched in response to a deterioration of law and order in the Indian state of Punjab.

The operation was carried out by Indian army troops with tanks and armoured vehicles. Militarily successful, the operation aroused immense controversy, and the government's justification for the timing and style of the attack are still under debate. Operation Bluestar was included in the Top 10 Political Disgraces by India Today magazine.

Official reports put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and the number of civilian deaths at 492, though independent estimates ran much higher.

The impact of the military assault, its aftermath and the increased tensions led to assaults on members of the Sikh community within India and uproar amongst Sikhs worldwide. In India, many Sikhs resigned from armed and civil administrative office and returned their government awards.

Indira Gandhi first asked Lieutenant General S. K. Sinha, then Vice-Chief of Indian Army and who was to succeed as the Army chief, to prepare a position paper for assault on the Golden Temple. Lieutenant General Sinha advised against any such move, given the sacrilegious outlook from pious Sikhs. He suggested the government adopt an alternative solution. A controversial decision was made to replace him with General Arun Vaidya as the Chief of the Indian army. General Vaidya was assisted by Lieutenant General K. Sunderjee as Vice-Chief. Operation Blue Star was eventually planned and controlled by them.

On 3 June 1984, a 36-hour curfew was imposed on the state of Punjab with all methods of communication and public travel suspended. Electricity supplies were also interrupted, creating a total blackout and cutting off the state from the rest of India and the world. Complete censorship was placed on all types of media.

The Indian Army stormed the Golden Temple on the night of 5 June under the command of Major General Kuldip Singh Brar. The forces had full control of the Golden Temple by the morning of 7 June, 1984. Bhindranwale, Lieutenant General Shahbeg Singh and several other militant leaders were killed in the operation along with a large number of followers and civilians. The armed forces also suffered many casualties. Operation Blue Star coincided with a Sikh annual festival. Pilgrims, including the elderly and children, were trapped inside the temple when the operation began and many were reported as wounded and killed as a result.

Sikh reaction in India began with the decade old persecution of Sikhs, mostly by the Hindu majorities as well as state-partonized terror on them. Indian government enforced total media blackout and stopped local and international media from covering this tragic blood shed of the decade. Before the attack by army a media blackout was imposed in Punjab. The Times reporter Michael Hamlyn reported that journalists were picked up from their hotels at 5 a.m. in a military bus, taken to the adjoining border of the state of Haryana and “were abandoned there”.

Brahma Chellaney, who was then the South Asia correspondent of the Associated Press, was the only foreign reporter who managed to stay on in Amritsar despite the media blackout. His dispatches, filed by telex, provided the first non-governmental news reports on the bloody operation in Amritsar. His first dispatch, front-paged by the New York Times, The Times of London and The Guardian, reported a death toll about twice of what authorities had admitted. According to the dispatch, about 780 militants and civilians and 400 troops had perished in fierce gunbattles. The high casualty rates among security forces were attributed to “the presence of such sophisticated weapons as medium machine guns and rockets in the terrorists' arsenal.”

Chellaney also reported that “several” suspected Sikh militants had been shot with their hands tied. The dispatch, after its first paragraph reference to “several” such deaths, specified later that “eight to 10” men had been shot in that fashion. In that dispatch, Mr. Chellaney interviewed a doctor who said he was picked up by the army and forced to conduct postmortems despite the fact he had never done any postmortem examination before. The number of causalities reported by Brahma Chellaney were far more than government reports, and the Indian government, which disputed his casualty figures accused him of inflammatory reporting. The Associated Press stood by the reports and figures, the accuracy of which was also “supported by Indian and other press accounts” according to Associated Press; and reports in The Times and The New York Times.

Whole of Punjab and especially the Golden Temple Complex was turned into a murderous mouse trap from where people could neither escape nor could they seek succor of any kind. The way the dead bodies were disposed off adds to the suspicions regarding the number and nature of the casualties. The bodies of the victims of military operation in Punjab were unceremoniously destroyed without any attempt to identify them and hand them over to their relatives. The government, after the operation, on the other hand, did every thing in its power to cover up the excesses of the army action. The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple and other Sikh temples in India.

Similar accusations of high handedness on part of Indian Army and allegations of human rights violation by security forces in Operation Blue Star and subsequent military operations in Punjab has been leveled by Justice V.M. Tarkunde, Mary Anne Weaver, Ram Narayan Kumar, a noted human rights lawyer, Joyce Pettigrew, a Swedish Anthropologist and many others.

Muslim women in India:

On the completion of five decades of independence, women in Muslim communities face considerable challenges as citizens of India and as members of India's largest minority. Their poor socio-economic status reflects a lack of social opportunity which, though not a feature exclusive to Muslim women, is exacerbated by their marginal status within an overall context of social disadvantage for most Indian women. This point was highlighted in a study of 39 districts in 1981 [where the population of Muslims ranged from 20 per cent to 95 per cent - which could be considered a fairly representative sample of the status of Muslims in India]. In the study, the literacy rate of Muslim women was found to be 21.91 per cent - lower than even the poor national average of 24.82 per cent.

According to government reports, Muslim women are among the poorest, educationally disenfranchised, economically vulnerable, politically marginalized group in the country. In 1983, the Gopal Singh Committee instituted by the government, declared Muslims as a “backward” community in India. A central feature of this “backwardness” is their exceedingly poor socio-economic status, particularly of Muslim women. Most Muslim women remain “invisible” workers in the informal economy. The Muslim share in public employment is less than 3 per cent. Within this picture of marginalization, it is a predictable certainty that the corresponding figures for Muslim women are further skewed towards the bottom. A lack of information on Muslim women contributes to the reinforcement of cultural stereotypes, serving to obfuscate their life experiences and struggles. Consequently, the notion that Muslim women's status in India is attributable to certain intrinsic, immutable “Islamic” features or that their social status derives solely from Muslim laws, is widely prevalent.

On the other hand, the appropriation of Muslim women's issues by a vocal and politically influential male Muslim constituency for political purposes poses a considerable challenge to Muslim women's legal empowerment. This was highlighted during the Shah Bano case and the passage of the Muslim Women's Bill in 1986.

Furthermore, it is crucial for Muslims “women and men” to debate among themselves the possible reasons and remedies for their poor status as citizens of India.

The political ascendence of the Hindu right-wing and its inherent link between politics and religion has threatened India's secular fabric. The rise of communal violence in the last two decades has undermined secular law and violated constitutional ideals of religious non-discrimination, protection of human rights, implementation of social justice and the equality of all Indian citizens as well as principles of international human rights law. Right-wing illiberalism, communal prejudice and intolerance of diversity bodes ill for all Indian women; in the case of Muslim women it heightens physical and economic insecurity, limits possibilities of renegotiating their status with Muslim men and precipitates Muslim militancy.

The lack of social opportunities for Muslim women is a crucial issue needing urgent action. An improvement in literacy rates would directly influence Muslim women's socio-economic and political status as citizens of India.

The acknowledgement of the universality of women's rights by the international community is relevant to the debate on Islam and women's rights, particularly with reference to women's rights in the family. The formation of forums and associations of Muslim men and women's initiatives in the 1990s is an important step towards facilitating public debate on Muslim women's issues. Muslim women and men must collaborate with individuals and organizations who are committed to the realization of women's human rights. The alliance of Muslim women with the women's movement in India, as well as movements for secularism, democracy and human rights, are crucial for forging a common front against forces opposed to women's self-determination.

Christian persecution in India:

When Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in the US in September [2000], the National Association of Asian Christians [NAAC] in the US paid US$ 50,000 to the New York Times to publish “an Open Letter to the Honorable Atal Bihari Vajpayee, prime minister of India.”

While “warmly welcoming the PM,” The NAAC expressed deep concern about the persecution of Christians in India by extremist [meaning Hindu] groups mentioning as examples “the priest, missionaries and church workers who have been murdered,” the nuns “raped,” and the potential enacting of conversion laws, which would make “genuine” conversions illegal. The letter concluded by saying “that Christians in India today live in fear.”

Many Hindu religious leaders feel Christianity is a real threat today for Indian democracy and ‘integrity’.

Rape of a nun and brutality on Churches:

Case – 1: A nun was raped in 2008 in the Indian city of Mumbai. Spanish born sister Antolina Martinez de Maranon of the Daughters of Charity, who works in Mumbai with leprosy, tuberculosis and AIDS patients, said in her letter that the violence began in Orissa, “but has now spread to many more states, even to the state we call the Rome of India, Bangalore, where our provincial house is located.”

“Many churches have been profaned there, Masses have even been disrupted, priests and others have been beaten, many things have been destroyed, and they are sowing panic.”

“Nobody is doing anything to stop the radicals from sowing panic and hatred in the minds of simple people and fear and insecurity in the minds of Christians,” Sister Martinez said.

“The Indian bishops want to draw attention to this all over the world, in order to get the international community to react,” she continued. “Otherwise nothing will be done, even though the central government has warned the extremists. Nevertheless, we are dealing here with the opposition party, which has many economic resources and many members trained to hate Christians,” she explained.

Sister Martinez pointed out that news of the death of a priest or nun in some part of India comes each day. “The Daughters of Charity are very protected by the Virgin Mary, even those who are in the north amidst the violence. We recognize that and we give thanks to God,” she said.

Case – 2: On August 25, 2008, India's Orissa state government has been accused of failing to take action against the perpetrators of the gang rape of a 28 year old Catholic nun.

India’s largest English daily, The Hindu reports the Orissa government has failed to take any action against those who committed the gang rape of the nun and the brutal attack on a Catholic priest who courageously resisted their attempts to force him to participate in the atrocity.

The incidents took place on August 25, 2008 at K. Nuagaon, 12 kilometres from the Baliguda subdivision in Kandhamal district in Orissa state in India. Both victims filed First Information Reports at the Baliguda police station. Sister Nirmala, Superior-General of the Missionaries of Charity, wrote to the Orissa Chief Minister and the Prime Minister specifying the atrocities.

The brutalisation of the nun and the priest by a mob raising anti-Christian, Hindutva slogans took place around 1pm at the site of the Divya Jyothi Pastor Centre.

The church was burnt the previous day in reprisal against the murder of an RSS activist, Lakshmanananda Saraswathi, and four of his associates on August 23 2008. The gang rape of the young nun, whose “virginity [was] grossly violated in public” took place in front of a police outpost with 12 policemen from the Orissa State Armed Police present and watching, according to Fr Thomas Chellan, the priest who was dragged out and badly beaten.

“Around 1:00 pm a gang came and pulled me and the Sister out of the house where we had taken shelter and started assaulting us,” Father Chellan told Indian newspaper The Hindu in a telephone interview from Kerala where he was recuperating.

“My appeals to the policemen who were standing nearby and watching only resulted in further beating. At one point the nun slipped away to plead with the police for help but she was dragged back by the mob and her blouse torn,” he said. The nun was gang raped in a nearby building, and he was doused with kerosene by the mob, which threatened to set him on fire. They were saved by a group of youth who took them to the police outpost where “one among the attackers was present with the police between 3pm and 9pm,” Father Chellan said.

News of the K-Nuagaon atrocity was conveyed through mobile phones to several priests and nuns hiding in the forests, fearing for their lives as the anti-Christian hunt was on. The victims were taken to the Baliguda police station around 9:00 pm where they filed First Information Reports.

Father Augustine Kanjamala is a Verbite clergyman who teaches at the University of Mumbai [India]. He appealed to the Churches of the world to “express their protest to the government of India” which has remained “inactive” with regards to anti-Christian violence. He openly charges the Orissa state government for its increasingly explicit collusion with the pogrom currently underway against the community of faithful.

According to Father Kanjamala a plan to cleanse Orissa of its Christian population has been in the making for years, especially in the district of Kandhamal [where most of the atrocities have taken place] where Christians now constitute around 5 per cent of the population. Conversions by, development for and emancipation of Tribals and Dalits are confronted by Hindutva conservatism.

“On 24 December 2007, while the Christians were getting ready to celebrate the birth of Lord Jesus Christ, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a member of a Hindu fundamentalist organization [Vishwa Hindu Parishad] and its supporters attacked and destroyed many churches and prayer centres. A large number of Christians were injured and made homeless in the communally sensitive district of Kandhmal, in Orissa state, eastern India.

Exactly eight months later, on 23 August 2008 when the same seer and the Hindu community were preparing to celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna [Janmashtami] in Jalespata ashram [monastery], he and four of his disciples were gunned down by tribal revolutionary Maoists.

That it was a premeditated attack is evident from the fact that he was warned in advance and that government authorities were aware of it. A local TV Channel reported that the murderers left a note on the spot of the murder that this was a revenge killing for the last December attack on the Christians.

Hindus were quick to accuse the Church of masterminding the murder of their revered religious leader, who was in his 80s, rather than accept the government’s view that the attack had a Maoist origin and color.

A meeting of Hindu leaders took place on the following day in Rourkela, also known as Steel City, where a decision for an immediate and violent retaliation was taken. The total success of the dawn to dusk strike in Orissa on 25 August, 2008 is clear evidence of the shocking reaction. The simultaneous unleashing of violent attacks on 35 Christian centres in Orissa on the evening of 25 August further confirms that the plan was organized.

All bomb attacks were directed at Christians and their institutions. The rampaging mob, seeking revenge for the Guru’s murder, destroyed the pastoral centre of the archdiocese of Bhuvaneshwar with a bomb. A priest and a nun working there were beaten up, stripped and paraded naked in order to humiliate them. Four other priests were severely beaten—one suffered severe burns and is now in critical conditions in Burla Medical College, in the district of Sambalpur. The nun was also gang raped by the mob.

The mob also ransacked a church-run orphanage near Burgarh, and the caretaker, Ms. Rajni Maji, was set ablaze and burned to death. A large number of churches, prayer centres, convents, hospitals, dispensaries and vehicles were attacked and torched. Some nuns received warned by mobile phone and either ran into the jungle or escaped by jeep to the neighbouring state of Chattisgarh.

A few lay people lost their lives while thousands ran for theirs into the forests; more than 200 houses were set on fire.The radical Hindu mobs defied the curfew and forced everyone and everything to shut down, bringing life to a stand still and the state virtually to its knees. The official death toll of 20 reported by the controlled media is totally false.

With 40 per cent of the population made up of Tribals and Dalits [outcasts] Orissa is one of the most underdeveloped states in the country.The Kandhamal district, which has seen high levels of anti-Christian violence in the last decade, is also where a significant number of Christian conversions have taken place in the same period. As Dalits who embrace Christianity achieve socio-economic progress, many Tribals have followed them in that path in recent times. Thus while Orissa's Christian population is less than 2 per cent, the Christian population in the district doubled in the last decade to reach the 5 per cent mark.

In January 1999, the Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burned to death by a mob led by one Dara Singh [convicted in 2003].Objecting to missionary activities, the murdered Hindu sage recently said: “The sooner Christians return to the Hindu fold the better it would be for the country.”

Orissa was the first state in the country that passed legislation against religious conversion in 1967, followed later by other states.

Another factor also generates opposition to Christians. It is becoming increasingly clear that where Christian missionaries operate, important social changes take place. People develop, acting and living with greater dignity. Thus, as a result of education, even basic education, Tribals and Dalits are no longer willing to be used as cheap labour in farming. Their sense of dignity and their education have given them the courage to protest against their exploitation and oppression. In addition to such changes over the past two generations, Tribals are now moving in great numbers to the big cities. In Mumbai alone there are some 100,000 young Tribals or Adivasi from Orissa, all working in domestic service or small industrial plants. It is obvious that these changes are transforming Orissa’s socio-economic structure.

There are series of allegations of rape of nuns by the fanatics Hindus in various parts of India. In most cases, those violated nuns do not speak of such brutality fearing social wrath. In some cases, nuns were viodegraphed while being raped, and such video tapes were sold in Indian market as well as in the Middle East by organized crime racket. Alluring titles such as ‘Raping virgin nun’ etc are given to such tapes and the crime racket are cashing millions by selling the sordid stories of the nuns in Christian missionaries.

Case – 3: Meena Lalita Barwa [29], a Roman Catholic nun was raped by a mob of fanatic Hindus in October 2008 and was paraded half-naked.

Sister Meena said that a mob of up to 50 men armed with sticks, axes, spades, crowbars, iron rods and sickles dragged her from the house where they were shelterin. One of the mob raped her, while two more held her down, and then a fourth tried to rape her again, before they paraded her, minus her blouse and underwear, along a road, she said.

When the crowd passed a group of a dozen policemen she begged for help, but they ignored her and talked in a “very friendly” manner to her attackers, she said. “State police failed to stop the crimes, failed to protect me from the attackers,” she said. “I was raped and I don't want to be victimise[d] by the Orissa police. God Bless India, God bless you all.”

Persecution of Ahmadiyya:

While some fanatic Islamists are demanding declaring Ahmadiyyas as ‘non Muslims’, persecution of this religious group is continuing mostly in Pakistan and Bangladesh, while state authorities are completely silent on this extremely serious matter. There are also reports of persecution of Ahmadiyyas in Malaysia, Indonesia and other Muslim nations.

Indonesian government barred the Ahmadiyyas from visiting Mecca to perform Haj. At West Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia, provincial administration imposed the ban a long time ago, but the matter was not publicly anounced.

In Bangladesh, dozens of Ahmadiyya mosques were attacked and destroyed by Muslim fanatics. BNP led Islamist coalition government in 2004 imposed ban on religious books of Ahmadiyyas and police raided various mosques of this religious minority group and ransacked those places with the excuse of searching for banned publications.

Rana Ata-ul Karim [36] was killed on 6 August 2009 in Multan, Pakistan. He was murdered simply for being an Ahmadi. Karim, a well educated agriculturist, left his home for a few minutes in the afternoon and returned to find that his wife had been locked in their bedroom by three young men who had entered his home. He was later shot 3 times and died on the spot. The assailants immediately fled the scene.

Ahmadiyyas are arguably the most vilified minority across the Islamic world. They are not considered Muslims by mainstream branches of the religion. Founded in the 1880s by a religious figure named Ghulam Ahmad, Ahmadis differ with the mainstream on the death and return of Jesus, the concept of jihad and, most controversially, the question of whether the Prophet Mohammad was the last messenger from Allah. Ghulam claimed to have received messages himself from god, making him a later prophet.

Pakistan is hardly alone in discriminating against Ahmadis. In Indonesia, where they are known as the Ahmadiyah, they have been terrorized regularly, with their places of worship attacked by fundamentalists and members being banned from taking part in the Haj in some parts of the country. Laws were passed in Indonesia last year restricting their activities and prohibiting them from proselytizing. In many parts of Kyrgistan, they have been told to cease worshiping.

The depredations in Pakistan have been particularly distressing. Since the mid 1980s, the Ahmadiyyas have been dying in droves. Some 104 have been murdered in targeted attacks or lynchings and 117 others have escaped murder attempts, according to the community’s records. Other forms of harassment are also common: mosques have been demolished, set on fire and forcibly occupied and Ahmadiyya corpses have been dug up from Muslim graveyards.

Persecution of Hindu:

In Bangladesh and Pakistan, Hindus are regularly repressed by the religious majorities. Hundreds of cases of rape take place every year, most of which fail to reach the attention of the media. There are also series of allegations of abduction and forceful convertion of Hindu females to Islam. In most cases, these Hindu females are abducted and raped to put pressure on them in converting to Islam thus marrying a Muslim man.

Such notoriety take place almost o a daily basis, mostly in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Grabbing Hindu properties is another phenomenon of great concern. Muslims with social or political links, grab the properties of the Hindus thus in many cases forcing them to leave the country and migrate to India. Several Hindu rich families were evicted from their properties, while there had been murders of Hindus by the influential Muslims in the locality to create panic in the minds of this religious minority group.

According to a figure, only in 2008, more than 10,000 Hindu women and girls were raped in various parts of Bangladesh. The total number of such brutality would be several folds higher, if the cases of such notoriety in Pakistan and other Muslim nations are taken into consideration.

A large number of Hindu temples were destroyed in Bangladesh and Pakistan during since the independence of India in 1947. Most of the governments in the Muslim nations consider Hindus as ‘second class citizen of the country’.

In Bangladesh, Muslim house-owners, while renting out homes to Hindu families, openly warn them to refrain from performing rituals every day. A Bangladeshi newspaper editor, who belongs to Hindu community said, he was instructed by his land-lord to refrain from blowing religious flute during their daily rituals.

Situation of religious minorities in most of the South Asian nations are truly volatile. This is becoming more complicated with the ongoing spread of religious hatred amongst the population, thus resulting in communal riot almost every year.

Government in the respective countries, as well members of the civil societies should surely look into this issue with due urgency, before things turn worst.

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