12/19/2022MASSIMO INTROVIGNEA+ | A-
In Baghbanpura, in the urban area of Gujranwala, Punjab, the Ahmadis covered decorative minarets with an iron sheet to make them invisible. It was not enough.
by Massimo Introvigne
There is no peace in Pakistan for the Ahmadis, members of a religious community regarded as heretic by Sunni Muslims. The Ahmadis venerate their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in Lahore in 1908, as “both a follower of the Holy Prophet (Muhammad) and a prophet himself.” For conservative Muslims, this is enough to violate the principle of the “finality of prophethood,” according to which there can be no genuine prophet in human history after Muhammad.
The Ahmadis are thus regarded as “non-Muslims.” There are laws in Pakistan prohibiting them from calling themselves Muslims, and from using Islamic symbols. The provision about the symbols, however, is interpreted differently and sometimes capriciously by different local authorities.
In Baghbanpura, in the urban area of Gujranwala, a city in Punjab, in mid-2022 Ahmadi believers were told by the police that Sunni Muslims were complaining that minarets decorating the door of the local Ahmadi mosque were “Islamic symbols” and should be removed. The Ahmadis agreed to cover the minarets with an iron sheet, making them invisible.
However, on December 8, 2022, in the early hours of the morning, the police blocked the street, raided the mosque, and destroyed the minarets.
Sometimes, in Pakistan, Ahmadi places of worship are vandalized by thugs. Sometimes, it is the police itself.
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.