Seminar on Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community in Pakistan


BACKGROUND The Ahmadiyya faith was founded as an offshoot of the Sunni Muslim communityabout 1889, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian in the Punjab. After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, the headquarters was moved to Rabwah in what be

The Ahmadis (as people of the Ahmadiyya sect are called) have been targets of persecution and sectarian violence in Pakistan for a long time. In 1974, the Constitution of Pakistan was amended, decreeing the Ahmadis as non-Muslims in the eyes of the law. This opened the door for the official persecution of its members under the flimsiest of pretexts (such as recitation of Islamic prayers, etc.). The situation steadily became worse, including the desecration of places of worship, and attacks on Ahmadiyya lives and property in several campaigns of repression, while the state did nothing to stop the perpetrators. Worse still, the state incarcerated several followers under a Blasphemy Law that was reputedly crafted specifically with the Ahmadiyya community in mind. This led to vast numbers of Ahmadis fleeing Pakistan and settling in Britain, Germany, Canada and the US. Today the status of Ahmadis in Pakistan continues to be grave -- they continue to be discriminated against by the mainstream in the political as well as social spheres, and are still prime targets of violence. This issue, although serious, is not openly discussed in Pakistan. This, despite the fact that some of the most illustrious Pakistani citizens of the 20th century belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect - Sir Muhammad Zafrullah Khan, the noted statesman who was Pakistan's first foreign minister as well as former president of the International Court of Justice, and Prof. Abdus Salam, Nobel Laureate in Physics (1979), to name just two. CONTEXT We have been seeing a steady increase in human rights violations and persecution of minority communities in South Asia in the past decade. In this context, this seminar is an attempt to shed some light and raise awareness of the situation of one such community, and galvanize public opinion to call for the repealing of a divisive and inhumane law, that has been specifically targeted at one community. ABOUT THE SPEAKERS Nasir Karamat is the Secretary of Trade and Industry of the San Jose Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. He holds an MBA from UCLA, a BS in Electrical Engineering with Honours and has more than 20 years of senior management experience both with Fortune 100 and start-up companies, working in three continents including North America, Europe and Asia. He is a frequent speaker on key topics in Islam and Ahmadiyyat and is currently Vice President of Marketing at Veridicom -- a fingerprint biometric security company in Sunnyvale, California. Tayyab Mahmud is a professor of law at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of Punjab University, Islamabad University, University of Hawaii, and University of California- Hastings College of Law. He ha practiced law in Pakistan and the United States and has taught at various universities in the two countries. He has published extensively on issues of Comparative Law, Legal History, and Human Rights, including a detailed article on freedom of religion and religious minorities in Pakistan (see reference below). RESOURCES Tayyab Mahmud, "Freedom of Religion & Religious Minorities in Pakistan: A Study of Judicial Practice," 19 Fordham International Law Review 40-100 (1995). Tayyab Mahmud, "Protecting Religious Minorities: The Courts' Abdication", in Chapter Six of "Pakistan: 1995" (eds. Charles H. Kennedy & Rasul Bakhsh Rais) Westview Press: Boulder (1995).

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