ASIA/PAKISTAN - Three members of the Ahmadiyya community killed, three condemned to death for blasphemy

Thursday, 12 October 2017 religious minorities   human rights   religious freedom   blasphemy   violence   islam  

Sheikhupura (Agenzia FIdes) - A lawyer, his wife and two-year-old son were killed by unidentified aggressors in their home in Sheikhupura. Another five-year-old son miraculously survived the attack who hid under the bed.
As reported to Agenzia Fides, lawyer Rauf Ahmad Thakur and his family belonged to the Ahmadiyya community. According to initial investigations, this could be an "honor killing", as Rauf Ahmad Thakur's wife's family did not approve the marriage of a woman to an Ahmadi believer.
Three other members of the same community, a religious minority in Pakistan, were sentenced to death for blasphemy by a court of first instance in Sheikhupura, Punjab province. The three are accused of tearing up posters which were posted by some Muslims, in which they ask to boycot the Ahmadiyya community. According to the judge, there were verses of the Koran on the torn posters, and therefore the three were accused of "blasphemy" and condemned to capital punishment.
In a message sent to Fides, Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Christian lawyer committed to the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan, condemns homicide and violence against the Ahmadi and calls on the authorities "to take strong measures against perpetrators and religious extremists who polarize society and use violence against religious minorities in Pakistan".
In recent days, there is a comeback in Pakistan regarding the demand for the total expulsion of the Ahmaddiya community from any public job and military service.
The Ahmadiyya community was declared "non-Muslim" in Pakistan with a constitutional amendment in 1974 during the mandate of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. This measure was confirmed by former President Zia ul-Haq, who introduced the "crime" for the Ahmadi to call themselves "Muslims" or refer to their faith as "Islam". The community is also forbidden to preach, publish religious material and make a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.
Ahmadiyya community members, considered a "heretical sect", in Pakistan are often targeted at their homes or mosques. With 5 million Ahmadi in Pakistan, the persecution against them has been particularly severe and systematic. Anti-Ahmadi feelings are strong and are fueled by various religious groups. Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious movement founded in 1889 in India by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/10/2017)