11/22/2022MASSIMO INTROVIGNEA+ | A-
In Pakistan, Muslims to get a passport should state they are not Ahmadis. The daughter of the Punjab Governor killed for his support of Asia Bibi didn’t.
by Massimo Introvigne
Like father, like daughter. On November 7, 2010, a court in Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan, sentenced to death a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, on charges of blasphemy that were obviously trumped up. The Governor of Punjab, a Sunni Muslim called Salman Taseer, visited Bibi in jail and said he would do his best to prevent her unjust execution. On January 4, 2011, Taseer was assassinated. His assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, executed in 2016, became a hero and a saint to Pakistani Sunni ultra-fundamentalists.
Sara Taseer, a banker turned internationally famous jewel designer, is the daughter of Salman Taseer. On November 15, 2022, Sara, who lives mostly in Singapore but is a citizen of Pakistan, tried to renew her Pakistani passport.
On passport applications, Pakistani citizens need to indicate their religion. If they are Muslims, they should further sign a statement that they have an “absolute and unqualified” belief in the doctrine of the finality of prophethood, i.e., that there can be no prophet after Muhammad. This doctrine is used in Pakistan to persecute the Ahmadis, who believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was “both a prophet and a follower of the Holy Prophet [Muhammad].” His followers are divided in two branches, Lahoris and Qadianis, but since both believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet, both are declared heretic and non-Muslim by Pakistani law.
To get a passport, Pakistani Muslims should sign a statement including the sentence: “I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmed [sic] Qadiani to be an imposter nabi [prophet] and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Quadiani [sic] group to be non-Muslims.”
Honoring the memory of her father, who died for religious liberty, Sara posted her unsigned passport application on Twitter and stated that she “refused to sign anything against my fellow Pakistanis [part of] Ahmadiyya.”
She did not get her passport. What she is getting are death threats from Sunni ultra-fundamentalists, who wrote on social media that both she and her father may have been Ahmadis (they aren’t). With the thirteen anniversary of the assassination of Salman Taseer approaching, his daughter is now also at risk.
Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio. From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.