Graves have been desecrated in the village of Perochak, in the Sialkot District of Punjab. It is not the first time.
by Massimo Introvigne
The Ahmadiyya is movement founded within Islam by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Conservative Muslims accuse Ahmad of having considered himself a “prophet,” whereas Islam teaches that no prophet could arise after Muhammad. The Ahmadi formula for Ahmad, “at the same time a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet [ Muhammad],” is not enough to establish Ahmadiyya’s orthodoxy in the eyes of Muslim clerics.
In Pakistan, laws prevent the Ahmadis from calling themselves “Muslims,” and they are heavily persecuted. If they are not Muslims, some argue, they should not even be buried in Muslim cemeteries. Dozens of Ahmadi graves and cemeteries have been desecrated. Muhammad Abdus Salam (1926–1996), one of the world’s leading physicists and a Nobel Prize laureate, had the word “Muslim” erased from his grave in Rabwah, Punjab, because he was an Ahmadi.
Yet, in several Pakistani villages cemetery arrangements between Ahmadis and mainline Sunni Muslims went on for decades without causing any special problem, until the recent rise of an even more militant anti-Ahmadi movement, fueled by ultra-fundamentalist organizations and parties.
In the village of Perochak, in the Sialkot District of Punjab, since 1948 Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis have shared the same cemetery. An agreement allows the Ahmadis to be buried on one side of the cemetery and the non-Ahmadis on the other side.
Yet, on April 6, the Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Daska along with the Station House Officer (SHO) of Motra Station with their officers arrived at the cemetery and started destroying 43 graves of Ahmadis.
During the incident, the AC was told on the spot that this has been a joint cemetery for 71 years, and the residents have always respected the arrangements with no quarrels. It seem that a local radical Sunni cleric, Maulawi Irfan Asad, incited the action of the AC.
Protests were to no avail, and the destruction continued. It seems that Pakistan’s ultra-fundamentalist Sunni Muslims are not happy with persecuting just the living Ahmadis. Now they persecute the dead too.