Religious Persecution of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is a United States federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to monitor religious freedom in other countries and advise the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on how best to promote it. The Commission report covers fewer countries, but makes policy recommendations to the executive and legislative branches of government. The Commission report also critiques the work of the State Department in promoting international religious freedom. Other relevant reports issued by US Department of State can be seen in U.S. State Department section.

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2005 2006

From US CIRF Website

Pakistan suffers from considerable sectarian and religiously-motivated violence, much of it committed against Shiites by Sunni militants, but also against religious minorities such as Ahmadis and Christians. Over the past year, there has been an upsurge in anti-Christian violence, including fatal attacks directed against churches, a missionary hospital, and humanitarian organizations. Police protection appears ineffectual and, although the Pakistani government did take some steps with regard to the recent attacks on Christians, no one has yet been successfully prosecuted for the killings. Perpetrators of attacks on minorities are seldom brought to justice.

Successive governments have seriously violated religious freedom in Pakistan. Discriminatory religious legislation has helped to create an atmosphere of religious intolerance and eroded the social and legal status of non-Muslims. Government officials provide fewer protections to non-Muslims than to members of the majority Sunni Muslim community. Belated efforts to curb extremism by reforming Pakistan’s thousands of Islamic religious schools appear to have had little effect thus far. Despite the proposed Madrassah reform law, too many of Pakistan’s Islamic religious schools continue to provide ideological training and motivation to those who take part in violence targeting religious minorities in Pakistan and abroad. American journalist Daniel Pearl was forced to “confess” his religion as Jewish before being beheaded on a training video by Islamic extremists.

The Constitution of Pakistan declares members of the Ahmadi religious community to be “non- Muslims” despite their insistence to the contrary. Ahmadis are prevented by law from engaging in the full practice of their faith. Barred by law from “posing” as Muslims, Ahmadis may not call their places of worship “mosques,” worship in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms (otherwise open to all Muslims), perform the Muslim call to prayer, use the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quote from the Quran, or display the basic affirmation of the Muslim faith. These acts are punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. It is illegal for Ahmadis to preach in public, to seek converts, or to produce, publish, and disseminate their religious materials. These acts are also punishable by imprisonment of up to three years. Ahmadis have been arrested and imprisoned for all of the above acts, and they are reportedly subject to ill treatment from prison authorities and fellow prisoners. Ahmadis who refuse to disavow their claim to being Muslims are effectively disenfranchised. There is no indication that the Musharraf regime intends, or has even seriously considered, changes to the anti-Ahmadi laws.

Prescribed penalties for blasphemy include death for whoever “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad” and life imprisonment for whoever “willfully defiles, damages, or desecrates a copy of the holy Quran.” Blasphemy allegations (often false) result in lengthy detention of and sometimes violence against Christians, Ahmadis, and other religious minority members as well as Muslims on account of their religious beliefs. The negative impact of the blasphemy laws is further compounded by the lack of due process and evidentiary standards that are involved in these proceedings. In addition, during blasphemy trials, Islamic militants often pack the courtroom and make public threats about the consequences of an acquittal. Defense attorneys in blasphemy cases have been the targets of violence. One judge who ruled in favor of the defendants in a high-profile blasphemy case was subsequently assassinated. Although no one has yet been executed by the state under the blasphemy laws, some persons have been sentenced to death. Several accused under the blasphemy laws have been attacked, even killed, by vigilantes, including while in police custody; those who escape official punishment or vigilante attack are forced to flee the country. Others have died in police custody under allegedly suspicious circumstances. Following an abortive attempt in 2000 at introducing procedural reforms, the Musharraf government has made no further effort to reform, much less repeal, the blasphemy laws. In a recent positive development, in August of this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan threw out the conviction of Ayub Masih, the first Pakistani Christian sentenced to death in a blasphemy case. His conviction was overturned on grounds that the accusations against him were false; however, the provisions of law under which he was charged remain unchanged.

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