[Newsline] Caged Ahmedi Refugees Fear Returning to Pakistan
It is no secret that Ahmedis in Pakistan are treated worse than animals, the latter at least having the freedom to bark, meow, chirp the way they choose to. Even when caged, pets are generally loved and cared for. Ahmedis on the other hand receive hatred and indifference from a large segment of Pakistani society. On the one hand, the Mullah brigade has disseminated venom against Ahmedis nationwide (and abroad), while on the other, the state supports this bigotry by criminalising the very existence of Ahmedis through laws that can best be described as discriminatory and cruel.
Since Ahmedis have been declared ‘Wajib-ul-Qatl’ (deserving of death) by numerous influential extremist groups, they are threatened on a regular basis by extremists living in our neighbourhoods. Ahmedi businesses are forcibly closed down, children harassed and homes attacked. False cases are registered, and with many interested in the prospect of hoors, false witnesses are readily available. Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code prohibits Ahmedis from calling themselves Muslim or act “in any manner whatsoever that outrages the religious feelings of Muslims.” This includes saying the Azaan, calling the Ahmedi place of worship a “mosque,” saying the greeting of peace, aka Salaam, reciting the Quran in public, or saying the Kalima. How these acts cause pain to the feelings of “constitutional” Muslims is beyond me, and how not saying any of this brings solace remains an even bigger enigma. Faced with such bitter two-sided damnation, what would a sane Ahmedi do, if not leave the country?
Was the very pretext for Pakistan’s existence not the preservation of religious freedom? Would it therefore not be befitting of Ahmedis to campaign for a separate state on the same grounds? But since this would cause chaos and unrest in the land they call home, Pakistani Ahmedis patiently pray and continue to hope for better days. However, when persecution becomes overbearing for some, they are forced to resort to emigration, which is the Quran’s prescribed way to escape religious persecution(4:98).