Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Violence Against Ahmadi Muslims Spikes After Pakistani TV Broadcast

Members of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan who routinely experience persecution and now being subjected to a new wave of violence. Contrary to mainstream Islam, the Ahmadiyya community believe that their 19th century founder was a prophet. Most Muslims believe that Muhammad was Islam’s final prophet and there shall be no prophet after him. In countries such as Pakistan, such theological differences are not settled through civil debate. Instead, most Muslims view Ahmadis as heretics worthy of harassment, or even open murder.

Ahmadi fears of violence spiked again this month when a popular satellite channel, GEO TV, ran a September 7th program commemorating the 1974 decision by Pakistan’s parliament declaring Ahmadis as “non-Muslims.” On the show, moderated by Dr. Aamer Liaqat Hussain, some participants argued that the murder of Ahmadis is sanctioned as a religious duty.

Only a day after the broadcast, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Abdul Manan Siddiqui, an American doctor, in Sindh Province as he saw patients in his medical clinic. He was a regional Ahmadi leader, and a humanitarian. Only a day after the doctor’s murder, gunmen killed another Ahmadi leader in Sindh.

The Ahmadi community suffers persecution around the world, but is subject to particular discrimination under Pakistani blasphemy law. For example, Ahmadis who call themselves Muslims or name their sons Muhammad face imprisonment.

Ahmadis in Pakistan are worried about the latest murders, and blame them on GEO TV’s incitement to violence. The GEO TV channel reaches the United States through DishNetwork.

GEO TV has already had the Urdu language clips of their program removed from YouTube under copyright claims, but other extremists may yet heed the GEO TV call to violence. Ahmadis make up one of several religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus and Christians, who suffer ongoing persecution at the hands of both the government and their countrymen.For Pakistan’s Ahmadis, an already fearful life just got worse.

Priya Abraham is Director of Communications for the Institute on Religion and Public Policy

courtesy: The Cutting Edge

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