In 1966, nearly 180 million people in the US received Miranda rights – the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.
Half a century later, a religious community in Pakistan, another country of nearly 180 million people, is facing a rather caustic version of the Miranda rights. They don’t have the right, but a duty, to remain silent.
The religious group is the Ahmadiyya community.
Two recent events frame the issue aptly. First, on January 29, 2012, clerics organized an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Rawalpindi, attended by 5,000 madrassah students, chanting threatening anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and demanding to take over a 17-year-old Ahmadiyya ‘place of worship’. Then on February 11, 2012, approximately 100 lawyers, from the Lahore Bar Association, rallied to ban Shezan drinks on court premises.
So while the clerics have the right to incite violence against Ahmadis, by publicly calling them ‘worthy of death’ and madrassah students have the right to wall chalk phrases like, ‘hang them all’, schools have the right to expel Ahmadi students and lawyers have the right to ban Shezan – Ahmadis, on the other hand, have the right to remain silent!
Is it not true that the right to remain silent assumes a right to free speech in the first place? Something the Ahmadis have been long deprived of?