It is perhaps ironic that members of a religious sect that often finds itself persecuted in this country met with representatives in Washington, D.C., this week to urge Congress to do more to protect religious groups from persecution in China.
But that, said Mubashir Mumtaz, of Hummelstown, who represents the Harrisburg/York chapter, of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, is part of their outreach.
More than 120 representatives of the U.S. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spent Monday seeking protections for Uighurs who are being detained in camps in China.
Most of China’s 11 million Uighurs, who largely live in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, practice Islam. In 2018, it was revealed that as many as 2 million Uighurs are being held in Chinese “re-education camps” in Xinjiang.
Mumtaz said his sect has long fought for religious freedom around the world. What makes the group’s outreach unique is that Ahmadiyya Muslims are persecuted in Pakistan and other largely Muslim countries.
“Even though we are persecuted, we want to fight for (religious) freedom for those who are persecuted,” he said by telephone.
The gathering with lawmakers, which is held annually, focuses on religious freedom around the world.
Mumtaz said the Pennsylvania delegation met with staff members from the offices of U.S. Sens. Robert Casey and Pat Toomey. At a subsequent meeting of the Ahmadiyya caucus, they spoke with U.S. Reps. Peter King, R-New York, and Jackie Speier, D-California, as well as with Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
Last year, the delegates met with lawmakers to urge the federal government to address the plight of the Rohingya people, who are being persecuted in Myanmar.