Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan
Plight of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

Unworthy Role of the National Urdu and Sindhi Press

Urdu and, to a less extent, the Sindhi print media of Pakistan, the so-called fourth estate, has generally played a very negative role in the Ahmadiyya issue since independence. It is distressing to note that the newspaper community, which is expected to be enlightened and intellectual, has consistently violated its own professional ethics while reporting upon this question. In fact, the leading Urdu press always exploited this problem with sales in view rather than professional ethics or national interest. Some newspapers worked for the mulla and the politician and received payments for fanning the fires of anti-Ahmadiyya hatred. The judicial high-level Punjab Disturbances Inquiry on anti-Ahmadiyya riots of 1953 mentioned the following on page 386 of its Report:

Four vernacular papers had been handsomely paid for thousands of copies which were perhaps never purchased………… and although these papers were the keenest agitators, their contracts were renewed early in July 1952 with the knowledge of Mr. Daultana (the Chief Minister). A sum of over two lakhs which the Assembly had voted for the education of illiterate adults was diverted under the orders of Mr. Daultana to the purchase of these four papers and the scheme was to be kept confidential”.

The virulent anti-Ahmadiyya propaganda by the Urdu Press has been persistent and unrelenting during the entire 52 years of the existence of Pakistan. It has contributed, more than its share, in further spoiling and perpetuating the communal hate climate. Its campaign has been so extensive that only a book could do some justice to its description. For shortage of space, only a few typical cases are mentioned below to illustrate the nature and level of this propaganda war.

Reporting the Murder of an Ahmadi
On 28 October 1997, five criminal activists of the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement kidnapped and murdered in cold blood Mr. Nazir Ahmad, Ahmadi, of Wazirabad. The supporters of the murder gang formed an association and started an open and unabashed campaign not only to defend the assassins but also to portray them as heroes who had performed an act of great merit by murdering an Ahmadi. In this, the press helped them. The Daily ‘Sadaqat’, in its issue of 5 Nov 1997 published the news giving the following headlines:

We Salute Him - who Dispatched the Apostate to Hell” — Khatme Nabumva Movement
It is in the great tradition of Ghazi Ilm Din to dispatch to hell someone who is an Enemy of Islam and the Constitution of Islam
Syed Zaman Shah’s (the murderer) act filled us Muslims with Pride” — Khatme Nabuwwat Movement Pattoki

The newspaper claimed that the above sentiments were expressed by the leaders of the Movement in a letter to the paper. The paper considered it print-worthy, and the government took no notice of this inflammatory reporting. The same newspaper thought it fit and news-worthy to voice the murderer's own opinion as the following headlines:

I am proud to dispatch the Apostate to Hell” — Syed Zaman Shah
I had no Option in view of the anti-Islam activities of Qadianis
Interview to “Sadaqat

Another Murder Reported
A 25-year old Ahmadi young man, Irfan Tipoo, was murdered by four non-Ahmadis in District Sargodha. Mullas and the Press gave it a religious color to justify this horrible act. A few headlines from the national Urdu Press:

Sargodha - Three Youth delivered a ‘Qadiani’ to Hell for blasphemy against the Holy Prophet - Irfan Tippoo declared the cursed Ghulam Ahmad superior to the Holy Prophet - The Students Finished him off with a Dagger.
Daily Pakistan, 3 Nov 97
Qadiani was Murdered for Blasphemy against the Holy Prophet. If anyone else repeats the Outrage, he will meet the same Fate-statement by the arrested youth”.
Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, 5 Nov 97

These newspapers not only stuck the charge of blasphemy on the victim, they educated their readers on how to get away with murder of an Ahmadi by crying ‘Blasphemy’. The Daily ‘Pakistan’ appeared to provide news of the Hereafter as well, by reporting that the victim had been dispatched to nowhere but Hell.

Declaration of War against Ahmadis and its Publicity
If even a nonentity decided to declare war on Ahmadis, the press was always at hand to project his howl to millions. For instance, the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, in its Lahore edition of 8 March 1998 printed the following headlines in a 2-column news-report:

“Those Who Deny The End Of Prophethood Have No Right To Stay In Pakistan”
“The Time Is Now Ripe To Wage An Open War Against The Enemies Of Islam”
— Abdul Ghaffar Bhatti

In the follow-up details, it was mentioned that A.G. Bhatti, Chairman of the Ahle-Hadith Students Federation, Okara City further stressed:

“Mirzai Community (Ahmadis) should emigrate to London, the abode of Mirza Tahir, the apostate who is the successor to their false prophet, Ghulam Ahmad, the apostate. Put them to sword - burn their crops — demolish their places of worship, as I cannot tolerate the existence of rebels of Mohammad, the Prophet — and rebels have no right to live. It is government's duty to cleanse this pure land of all Mirzais and do away with their false mosques, as Mirzais are the worst and ugliest traitors to Islam and Pakistan; and no Muslim can tolerate the presence of these traitors and British agents in Pakistan.”

In fact, this Bhatti was not known even to all the Ahle-Hadith of Okara. What he said shows only the low level of his intellect and education, but it is noteworthy that the editor of Nawa-i-Waqt (a newspaper published from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad simultaneously), Mr. Majid Nizami, brother of the late renowned Mr. Hameed Nizami, and who till recently was the President of All Pakistan Newspaper Society, should consider it fit to print this rabid provocation in his ‘prestigious’ newspaper. The government did not act against Bhatti, the agent-provocateur, or against the newspaper. Apparently the Laws PPC 295-A (Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and PPC 298 (Uttering words etc; with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings) are not applied, as a matter of policy, to a felon, when Ahmadis are his victim.

Support to Unsupportable Demands
The Daily Din of February 24, 1998 printed the following headlines at ‘top center’ of its back page:

Qadianis are traitors to Homeland — Nothing good be expected from them
Strict surveillance be maintained against them during the Census, so that they may not enroll themselves as Muslims
Qadianis be Forbidden to hold Sport Rallies, and their Periodicals be Proscribed
Maulana Allah Wasaya and Maulana Yaqub address Students

Such spiteful headlines influence and corrupt the minds of the youth and the ignorant public. Its cumulative effect could be disastrous. However, the Urdu Press only plays to the gallery.

Publicity of an Evil Fatwa
According to a report published in the Daily Jang (Karachi) of 6 November 1995, several top leaders of the anti-Ahmadiyya “Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatame Nabuwwa” declared that Every member of the Qadiani Community deserves to be killed for being blasphemous against the Holy Prophet of Islam. Perhaps there is some justification for including it in the newspaper as news, but the editor made absolutely no editorial comment, not even a hint, on the harmful and disastrous effects of this edict from the pulpit. The owners-cum-editors of the Jang Publications are apparently interested in nothing but the balance sheet of their print-media empire.

The Yellow Press turns Brilliant Yellow
Headline in an Urdu daily. 'Qadianis open Fire in the Mosque. Imam suffered Injuries - His beard was grabbed and pulled'. The Daily Sahafat, Lahore: 22 May 1998. Pure fabrication and liesThe Daily Sahafat, Lahore printed the following front-page banner headline on 22 May 1998:

Imam suffered Injuries - His beard was Grabbed and Pulled Qadianis attacked and beat up Maulana Kalimulla Muavia, the Head Priest of the Central Mosque of town near Sheikhupura. The DC and SP Sheikhupura arrived at the site immediately on receipt of the report. Arrest the Accused: The Ulema demand”

These were the headlines. The details given were also a bunch of lies. It was entirely a fabricated story; Ahmadis had noting to do with the incident.

Ahmadiyya Headquarters carried out an immediate investigation. It was learnt that there was a dispute in the village about the sale proceeds of sacrificial hides. The mulla was facing some difficulties in this regard. A Shia youth approached the mulla to make an announcement regarding a planned procession. The Mulla's refusal resulted in a brawl. A case was registered, and some arrests were made by the police. Ahmadis were not involved in any manner at any stage.

The news reported by the Sahafat amounted to press terrorism. It was presented in a highly provocative manner. Ahmadiyya rebuttal in press release was sent to the press and authorities, but few bothered to respond, as the occasion demanded.

It is not possible to report here even a small fraction of all the crimes committed by the Pakistani Urdu Press. We reproduce below only some of the anti-Ahmadiyya headlines which appeared within only a few days of December 1997. These will give an idea of the enormity of this propaganda war:

Qadianis can never by loyal to the country - Shabbir Ahmad Daily Pakistan, 18-12-1997
Qadianis should be tried under Article 6 for high treason-Majlis Khatame Nabuwwa Nawai Waqt, 20-12-1997
Hang Mirza Tahir - Demonstration of Pasban Khatm-e-Nabuwwat The Daily Din, 20-12-1997
Due notice will be taken of Qadianis' activities - Yasin Wattoo Assures the National Assembly Din, 20-12-1997
Qadianis should be removed from all key posts - A.H. Qadri Daily Musawat, 8-12-1997
Qadianis are not infidels: they are apostates, and the punishment of an apostate is death - Daily Musawat, 9-12-1997
Surveillance of Qadiani Officers ordered - Nawai- Waqt, 12-12-1997
Qadianis are like an injured snake- The government should crush its head. Mirza Tahir should be charged for treason and arrested through Interpol - Maulana Chinioti Nawai-i-Waqt, 13-12-1997
Muslim League intends to appoint a Qadiani as President - Hafiz Idrees Daily Khabrain, 14-12-1997
The country can be saved only if it is cleansed of Qadianis - Ataul Mdhsin Nawa-i-Waqt 15-12-1997
Mirza Tahir declares war - Daily Pakistan, 15-12-1997

In short, the apparently educated and scholarly of the Urdu daily press of Pakistan worked hard throughout the second half of the twentieth century to win a place in the history of persecution of Ahmadis. They have succeeded.

Major newspapers vied with each other in this unworthy competition. Press releases by mullas, loaded with acrimony against the Ahmadiyya Community are readily printed in full. Address by a cleric to an audience whose number may not be in two figures is reported often on front or back page under a two-column headline. Ahmadis are called enemies of Islam as well as Pakistan, while they are neither. To excite the hatred of common man, Ahmadis are often linked in these statements with Jews and Hindus. The Daily ‘Jang’ brings out annually a supplement in colour on 7 September to celebrate the anniversary of declaring Ahmadis a ‘non-Muslim minority’. Its articles are always hateful and salutary to those who participated to achieve ‘victory’ in this self-imposed and one-sided constitutional battle. They call it ‘a day of great joy and happiness’. The government takes no notice of this evil propaganda; in fact, it encourages it. On the other hand, Ahmadiyya news and views are either not published or unabashedly suppressed. In July 1986, when a baby quadruped died in Karachi zoo, the Daily Jang reported the event in a two-column news on its front page, but for the horrid murder of Baboo Abdul Ghaffar, a prominent Ahmadi of Hyderabad, the Jang could spare space of the size of a postage stamp only. In short, Urdu press has acted a veritable representative of a corrupt and decadent society; in fact it has, unfortunately, helped in speeding up the downhill trend, unmindful it is that the fall of this society will bring about the fall of its Press as well. The history will not but judge the Urdu Press of Pakistan harshly.

From the Archives
Plight Of Ahmadis In Data, District Mansehra
Data is a small town in District Mansehra. In 1974 riots, the property of Ahmadis at Data was damaged, and Ahmadiyya Mosque was demolished. In 1984, when the notorious Anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance of General Zia was promulgated, a number of prominent Ahmadis of Data were arrested under section 298/C. Some were charged under 107/151. In 1994, the situation worsened. Ahmadis were intimidated, tortured and threatened with death. Some miscreants entered the Ahmadiyya cemetery and damaged tablets on some graves.

Anti Ahmadiyya Khatm-e-Nabuwwat Organization formed a Youth Force consisting mostly of mischief-mongers of the town, under the patronage of the Imam of Data. They first contacted elders of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in order to force them to denounce Ahmadiyyat. When they did not succeed in their evil design they forged a letter addressed to the Imam of Data mosque telling him to desist from opposing the Jamaat otherwise face commando action. As planned, this false letter was taken to the police station. The local administration moved swiftly. The police raided Ahmadi houses and arrested Messers Kalimud Din, Mubarak Ahmad and Rana Mubashir Ahmad.

The local administration demanded that if the President of the Jamaat Data would present himself for arrest, the situation would be brought under control. A dead line, 8 April 1994 was fixed for the arrest, failing which they would destroy Ahmadi houses. The President of the Jamaat who was away at Peshawar offered his arrest on 6 April. On 8 April, the opposition arranged a meeting in which they decided upon a complete boycott of Ahmadis. A high police official was present in this meeting along with his police guard. Some unbridled militants rushed to the Ahmadiyya cemetery and damaged the graves. One of them, fired some shots in the air to harass Ahmadis. They damaged the roof of an Ahmadi's house and broke the dish antenna installed on it.

The Assistant Commissioner also visited the town. Extremists felt encouraged, and went to a nearby private school where an Ahmadi lady taught. The Principal was told to sack the lady or face arson. The Ahmadi teacher was sacked immediately, thus depriving of her meager income.

On 15 December 1996, a prominent Ahmadi, Subedar Aziz Ahmad died in Data. A few non-Ahmadi friends visited secretly to offer condolences. The opponents came to know of the visit and were greatly enraged. Names of the non-Ahmadis who offered condolences were announced over loud-speakers, and they were abused profusely. Their kind gesture of sympathy to the bereaved family was condemned by the mullas. A non-Ahmadi cook who prepared food for the guests on this sorrowful occasion was insulted by the opponents and was made to repent. The man was so terrified that he could not turn up even to collect his cooking utensils.

On 22 December 1996, Subedar Abdul Rahim, an Ahmadi, fell ill with a heart condition. The town dispenser refused to attend to him. Transporters were too afraid of the extremists to take the patient to Mansehra. An Ahmadi doctor visited from Mansehra and took him to CMH Hospital, Abbotabad.

In the market venders would not sell any thing to Ahmadis. Ahmadi women, when they went out to the town, were pelted with rotten tomatoes, eggs and rubbish. Harassment of Ahmadis and use of filthy and disgraceful language against them and their respected leaders is a daily routine of mullas and their disciples at Data. (Reported in 1996)

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