Pakistan Ahmadi Attack: A Muted Response To Minority Killings


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First Appeared on DAWN.COM

Incomprehensible. That is the only word I can use to express my feelings about the indifference of people, the authorities, and the media towards the attacks against theAhmadi community in Lahore on Friday. Attacks that were carried out in broad daylight, killing over 90 people and injuring many others. Attacks that turned into a hostage situation with over 1500 people at risk of being killed or fatally injured.

I am disappointed that there is no one to protest and lament the killings, especially since the Ahmadi community seems to have been silenced by years of discrimination and persecution. I was six years old and attending a Quran class when the maulvi sahib blatantly refused to teach two of my friends, Maham and Rija. I remember his words, his eyes flaming with hate as he refused to let them sit in his class, or even touch ‘their’ Quran. I did not understand why no one protested, why they had chosen to leave the room silently, as if the hate and discrimination was expected. I found myself in the same dilemma on Friday, when after one of the largest attacks against them in the history of Pakistan, this was the only official statement issued on behalf of the Ahmadi community:

Despite what has happened no Ahmadi has taken to the streets in protest; no Ahmadi has displayed anything but patience. Instead we have turned towards God and prayed for the victims, for their bereaved relatives and for the long term peace and prosperity of Pakistan. We will continue with this example no matter what is thrown at us in the full certainty that God is with us and always will be.

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The only reality check regarding this horrifying episode has come from a woman who was attending to one of the people wounded in Friday’s attacks. She refused to accept a bouquet from Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and went on to lambast him for inadequate security provisions at the sites of worship. It was indeed ironic to see dozens of security guards accompany the interior minister to his trip to the hospital to visit the survivors of Friday’s attacks. If only half of those were present to guard the two sites that came under attack, this incident could have been prevented, or, if nothing else, casualties could have been minimised. There is thus absolutely no justification for this act of negligence.

Meanwhile, the social networks have also been abuzz with outrage. Twitter, in particular, was flooded with messages of condemnation, shock, and horror. Many were disgusted by the way in which media outlets were describing the sites that were attacked as ‘worship places’ instead of ‘mosques.’ Others accused the media of downplaying the casualties. Someone remarked how a popular news channel’s comments suggesting ‘worship places should have their own security’ were derogatory and inhumane. There were debates on whether the media channels will count those killed as ‘martyrs,’ and if not, then why not?

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Here’s the thing: I do not care whether those killed on Friday will be labeled martyrs or not. It does not make a difference to me whether the authorities have traced the terrorist outfit responsible for this attack. I remain enraged that most of us refuse to recognise the attacks as a human rights issue, and, most importantly, as a violation of minority rights. And by ‘most of us,’ I am referring to those of us who are neither politicians, scholars, clerics, or media personnel. I have lived in Pakistan long enough not to expect the authorities to be sensitive towards the real issues of the people. But the public framing of Friday’s attacks is about the underlying hate, discrimination, and religious bigotry that has been suffocating us for years. This is about those of us who  choose to use religion to justify inhumanity despite the gory images showing attacks on innocent civilians.

There is no justification for killing unarmed civilians – no religion or legal system allows a bunch of people to take  the law in their hands and carry out barbaric acts of terror.

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Today, I must confess that I am scared of the uncertainties the future holds. I fear that this attack might be one of many to come. And most of all, I fear that another attempt will be similarly downplayed and labeled an act of terrorism, rather than a violation of minority rights. The stabbing of an Ahmadi man at Narowal on Monday further strengthens my fears, especially as the threats of the assailant to “not leave any Ahmadi alive” serve as uncanny reminders of state-sanctioned discrimination against the Ahmadi community.

I feel that in our attempts to prove ourselves so-called pious Muslims and patriotic Pakistanis we have left humanity far behind. Our sympathies have become political, and our humanity has been compromised. Somewhere in our tussle to become pioneers of Islam and the darling of the West, we have stopped being human. For every atrocity that unfolds around us, we have a home-made conspiracy theory, a religious justification, or a history lesson with which to identify the culprits. But amid this information overload, the atrocities go ignored, priorities remain distorted, and the massacre continues.

For every one who witnessed the horrendous killings of Ahmadis this past week, I have one question: how many Garhi Shahos and Gojras will it take for us to stop abusing religious beliefs to justify killing innocent people?

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21 thoughts on “Pakistan Ahmadi Attack: A Muted Response To Minority Killings

  1. By what means u call terrorist or extremist. I’m confident that none of us knows. We are only good in briefings to others regardless of knowledge of that particular subject. I must say we all are extremist. Taliban justify it religiously and some of us justify it under the name of cast, likes or dislikes of personalities(such as mentioned above bhottu or zia or mullahs)sume1 region wise and specially in this blog under the name of minorities. By every single word, the essence of hate for opposites and the message of divisions generates. Taliban do the same but wid gunpower n u do by writing(which I think most of u can only do). I follow and obey what my religion ask for and my law of land. But I can never ever hate any human being for his beleifs or thoughts. I love and respect my fellow countrymen regardless of his religious belief. I don’t want to justify these killings with all others sunni or shia or any one. My heart cries the same for all those who are killed under this banner. Bcoz they all were humans and my fellow pakistanis. And they were all innocents. I don’t want to know them by their beliefs.
    So please stop ur acts of extremism and remove the inner hate of urs for others. And dont try to dictate ur extremist views on these innocent killings,we cannot solve the problems by creating another problem. U have many other ways to correct if, wht u called misconception abt ahmadis.I really don’t know much abt it. And I don’t want to know u by religious beliefs. So better clean ur heart instead of writing and expressing this way. I do respect and feel the same pain u r going through for such a inhuman act with ahmadis, but we cannot stop it like dis by asking these terrorist to just please stop killing minorities and they should continue with majority. This is us, who have to fight with these elements. And we have no choice except getting united and fight.

  2. A man like Dr.Abdus Salm was not allowed to land the Pakistani soil. Why? because he was a ‘Ahmedi’…
    Shame on all of us…
    Progressing towards extremism instead of humanitarianism…

  3. Mr Muhammad Waqas Iqrar: You are entitled to your opinion.
    You stated in your comment that Ahmadis issues have been settled years ago and it has been put in the constitution. So if it is put in the constitution does it make it correct? This idea was initiated by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto a man whos end was anything but respectful. He was overthrown and then later hanged to death. Then the constitution was officially changed in 1984 by a DICTATOR called Zia-Ul-Haq….who possessed no morality or character… when he died the only thing available to bury was his teeth as nothing else could be recovered. However Zia was not only anti -Ahmadi but also anti- Shia as many Shia muslim personalities and politicians were killed under his reign. So a constitution that has been dictated by people like this holds no value to me.

    You have also stated that Ahmadis are full citizens and have full rights to have their beliefs….Mr Iqrar….are you living in the same Pakistan as everyone else????….obviously not.

    1. Ahmedis believe that there is no God But Allah and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allah…..

    Are Ahmedis permitted to publically say this? The answer is NO.

    2. Ahmedis believe in the 5 Pillars of Islam
    – Kalima Shahadah
    – Salat
    – Zakat
    – Fasting
    – Hajj

    …Are ahmedis permitted to call their mosques mosques? The answer is NO.

    …Are they permitted to write the Kalima? The answer is NO.

    …Are they permitted to call themselves muslims? The answer is NO.

    Ahmedis are not forcing anyone to accept anything….they are just asking to let God judge them….and I hope you agree that ONLY God is the Judge….not politicians or militants or citizens

    According to me if a person calls himself/herself muslim no other person has the right to judge him/her…because they do not know what is in his/her heart.

    There will come the Day when everyone will answer for their actions.

  4. I applaud you and your views Sana.

    Its nice to know there are still educated people out there with core muslim values such as peace, love and tolerance.

  5. – Under the law, Ahmadis may not call themselves Muslims and may not refer to their places of worship as “mosques”. Orthodox Muslims applying for a passport must sign a statement declaring Ahmad as an “imposter”.
    There are times when politeness is the wrong prescription, and this is one.
    Dear Pakistan:
    You are seen as badly behaved children, unable to function as a normal society. We cannot take people who make such laws seriously. You’re a joke. We consider you to be mentally handicapped, and violent as well.
    We don’t interact with you out of respect. We interact with you because you are a problem, like having a dangerous pest in your basement.
    And the most important message I send you is this: we learn about Islam not from western commentators, but by what happens in Muslim majority societies. And what we learn is the truth.

    I want to see all you people have to decalre if you are a terrorist or not when applying for visas to the UK and also declare your uncle osama as a non muslim!

  6. Thank you very much for putting some sanity in those horrfying events …. your blog was very well balanced & thought provoking … being an Ahmadi,
    after reading it .. it gives hope there there are still people in this world who have the courage for saying wrong to a wrong. Again Thank you on behalf of all Ahmadi people world wide. May God bless you always. Keep blogging.

  7. i don’t think you’d be this naive that you can’t figure out what’s happening and who’s benefiting by targeting ahmedis. perhaps it would be wise to not keep beating the same old drum of qadiani persecution and more, but actually look beyond, or try to. there have been sunnis getting killed and a mere incident on qadianis and this much fuss? is it so difficult to figure out after all? now you’re trying to imply that pakistani sunnis are doing all this? use your head to promote harmony in the nation, not divide it further by beating the same crap and inciting hatred towards a group of people while painting everything else as innocent most. use some pate lady.

  8. These attacks have been considered in the most terrible ones.That’s the only reason everyone is so much bothered about it.It’s time we should call for the rights of our Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters.
    I know Ahmadis ,they are very peaceful people and must say,better Muslims than us.
    Above all,they do believe in Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) as a last Prophet.
    I wish these extremists and Mullas would stop spreading misconception regarding them.
    I have so much to say and prove.
    I know many Ahmadi Muslims and and i have myself researched a lot.
    They are Muslims.Stop calling their Mosques as Worship places for God’s Sake.
    God bless Pakistan.

  9. These attacks have been considered in the most terrible ones.That’s the only reason everyone is so much bothered about it.It’s time we should call for the rights of our Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters.
    I know Ahmadis ,they are very peaceful people and must say,better Muslims than us.
    Above all,they do believe in Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) as a last Prophet.
    I wish these extremists and Mullas would stop spreading misconception regarding them.
    I have so much to say and proove.
    I know many Ahmadi Muslims and and i have myself researched a lot.
    They are Muslims.Stop calling their Mosques as Worship places for God’s Sake.
    God bless Pakistan.

  10. Image … Wao what a joke!!!
    Pakistan don’t have any positive image in the world internationally we are treated as the cultivators of terrorists and now we are also harvesting what we have cultivated..
    You can count a numerous of incidents when not only Ahmadi but all the minorities in Pakistan have been target of extremists consistently for instance the Gojra incident when tens of Christians died in Faisalabad.
    Whenever Pakistan gets any opportunity to bring thier positive image it gets beaten up by extremists…..so forget abt image of Pakistan

  11. With the risk of attracting harsh criticism I dare to suggest that we need look beyond body bags and reclaimed land, we are entangled cycle of violence and we can only break it by embarking on de-radicalization of society, as we need to curtail the birth of new militants and rehabilitate those who wish to be a part of society and denounce violence

  12. I think the effort by our sudo-intellectuals to make this an Ethnic/religious clash like Gojrah is totally condemnable.

    When you label it an attack against ahemdi community you are not doing any favor but minimizing their status as an equal Pakistan. This was an act of terrorism which is being continued in the result of our alliance with so-called war on terrorism.
    People from all the sections of life re victim to this brutality. But what happen to these intellectually when almost daily a drone strikes to the citizen of Pakistan, killing children, women and innocent civilians.
    So much so our own army daily kill people and tag them as terrorist, no one ever bothered to check whats really going on? Instead we start the debate of effectiveness of Drones or such strikes.
    Our Establishment including Pakistan Army brought this war to our own soils its their failure yet we start bashing out our police for all such acts.

    What the our intelligence agencies are doing to stop these events, we start tagging them to Taliban, next moment these are occurred.

    No one ever tried to ask Rehman Malik about the evidence he gets the very moment these events happen to related to Taliban. Just a anonymous phone call or claim is sufficient for these “sudos” to malign Islam, Muslims and Pakistanis.

    Regarding Ahmedis issue, hardly anyone bluntly blaming these acts to decades old legislations without even have slightest domain knowledge of whole issue and trying to be the MUFTIS of religion.

    I must say that every has its own grave to face, and being Muslims we must at least think before we utter or do the commentary.

    This country has been made with the name of Islam, we would strive to make it true fort of Islam, having said that all the minorities are equal citizen of this homeland, there must be no discrimination and all such acts are condemnable.

    Having said that we must avoid molding facts and presenting them the way we like them to be. Being Muslims its our duty to protect all the minorities and we expect them to respect our believe and no one is allowed to dictate and infiltrate our religious believes.

    Qadiyani issues has been settled years ago and its part of constitutions, no one must now exploit it for their own interests.

    Qadiyani are fully citizen and they must strive to become equal Pakistan. They have full right to have their believes but they can’t force or propagate other Muslims to believe what they do.

    Again, These acts of terrorism were against Pakistanis, our vary State and society which must be condemned without any biasness and going into debates of “mosque” or “worship place” etc.

  13. There is nothing righteous in terror

    What happened in Lahore is truly one of the saddest and heart-wrenching incidents I have ever experienced as a Pakistani. When places of worship no longer carry the sanctity they deserve, the stark divide in religious ideology is made clear in Pakistan. After wandering around various blogs and reading horrible hate posts by people who label themselves as Muslims, I felt compelled to write to the terrorists and their followers directly. It is mesmerizing that there are people in my country who actually applaud the heinous crime of killing innocent people, carrying out a crime against Islam, a crime against Pakistan. I am shocked at the people who have the audacity to support those who kill in the name of our religion, one that bounds my faith for the timeless virtues of tolerance, compassion, and forgiveness.

    I’d like to know, who am I or who are you to declare anybody a Muslim or Non-Muslim? Who has given you the right to do so? Are you yourself a Muslim? Do you have empathy towards others? Do you look out for the poor? Do you live a modest life? Look inside yourself prior to naming others for their method of worship. There is a difference between right and righteousness. Righteousness lies with the heavens, not with you. It is shocking that you killed innocents who were bowing before the very God you allegedly pray to! Have some decency. You may agree to disagree, but who has given you the right to take another’s life?

    Many of you declare the Ahmaddi community as non-Muslim because of their beliefs and because they have infringed upon your interpretation of Islam. You argue they have associated themselves with another prophet therefore they are blasphemous. I ask you, have you not taken divine authority into your own hands by persecuting others based on religion? God put in place the Day of Judgment: what makes you think, you can do his job based on your own twisted ideology? Let Him be the judge of their religious status. There is no virtue in taking up the mantle of God: indeed, this is where true blasphemy lies.

    It is ironic that the very religion you assume you are protecting has been disfigured and defaced because of you. For a religion that preaches tolerance, compassion and forgiveness, you have surely taken away its essence. Suggest you find another name for the mind-boggling and demented ideology you follow. Don’t distort Islam. Don’t destroy Pakistan. You may not want to call Ahmaddi’s Muslims, but that power does not lie with you (thank God). The manner in which anyone practices their faith or religion is between them and their lord. Get over it!

    Pakistan was formed to provide for a minority. If you look at my flag, Pakistan’s flag; you will see the white stripe that represents them. Who are you to go and take that away from us? Do you believe in the passion of countrymen? Do you understand the meaning of being a Pakistani? Our patriotism lies in our passion and pride; holed out in caves and hiding your faces, like vipers that slither away after they’ve struck, you reek of cowardice and spinelessness.

    We have tolerated you people for far too long. I want my mosque, church and temple to have the sanctity they deserve. Pakistan was not formed to allow space for religious persecution. A country of 180 million people has shed enough tears on the passage of its loved ones. Stop the bloodshed; my country has seen enough blood.

    Regardless of religious status, the members of this community are Pakistanis. They pay taxes and they contribute to the GDP of your country. I shouldn’t even say “your” country, for you have no reverence for the very motherland that has provided you with a ground under your feet. You have no esteem for a fellow Pakistani. You have distorted the meaning of being a patriot. You have no respect for those who disagree with you in your community. Stop using my religion to spread terror amongst the innocent. I believe in a faith that allows for disagreement, I have trust in a religion that does not take the lives of innocents, I follow a faith that provides for a community of different religions in a country called Pakistan. Get out of my religion – get out of my country!

    Agha Haider Raza (http://ahraza.wordpress.com)

  14. they kill sunnis…they kill shias…in short they kill all those that do not subscribe to their extremist brand of islam…its not just the ahmadis…and why should they protest against the government?did the government personally have them killed or the terrorists?if people start blaming the government for everything then all shias and sunnis would come out on the streets too…but that would be baseless wouldn’t it?it is not as if the ahmadis ONLY are targeted afterall…

    1. These attacks have been considered in the most terrible ones.That’s the only reason everyone is so much bothered about it.It’s time we should call for the rights of our Ahmadi Muslim brothers and sisters.
      I know Ahmadis ,they are very peaceful people and must say,better Muslims than us.
      Above all,they do believe in Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) as a last Prophet.
      I wish these extremists and Mullas would stop spreading misconception regarding them.
      God bless Pakistan

  15. I applaud your post, drawing attention to this horrible attack will do some good.

    I do question why you believe that minority rights are more important than human rights. Is that not the same mindset that caused the killings? Someone, somewhere decided their rights to their belief system were more important than someone elses right to their belief system.

    If human rights are equal rights, granted by virtue of being human, and not bestowed on us by some government in a lopsided fashion with more rights being granted to those who are in the minority dejour…then the pretext for devaluing life at all goes away.

    Lets stick to human rights, better yet individual rights.

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