Why are Ahmadiyya mosques in Pakistan under attack by vandals?

The sect’s origins lie in Qadian near Amritsar in Punjab, India. Seen as non-Muslims in Pakistan, and treated as such by law, Ahmadiyya places of worship have been repeatedly attacked

By: Explained Desk
New Delhi | Updated: February 4, 2023


Karachi-Ahmadi-mosque-vandalisedThe video of the vandalism has since gone viral on social media, being shared across platforms. (Photo: Twitter/@KashifMD)

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Unknown attackers broke the domes and minarets of a mosque of Pakistan’s minority Ahmadiyya community in Karachi, Pakistan, recently. In videos shared on social media, people were seen climbing atop an Ahmadi Masjid in Saddar, Karachi and raining hammer blows on the structure.

This attack is another in a string of attacks that have taken place on Ahmadiyya places of worship in Pakistan. Most recently, minarets of Ahmadi Jamaat Khata on Jamshed Road in Karachi were demolished, ANI reported. In December last year, police removed the minarets from a mosque in Gujranwala, Punjab.

Who are the Ahmadiyyas?

The origins of the religious sect are in Qadian near Amritsar in Punjab, India. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad founded the movement in 1889. In opposition to some aspects of Islam, he preached that he was the promised messiah who had the task of bringing God’s teaching into harmony with the present-day world. He said his coming was awaited not only by Muslims but by Christians and Jews as well.

There are around 2-5 million Ahmadis in Pakistan. The community is also present in India, and some estimate their numbers at around 1 lakh.

The sect has long been opposed by hardline Muslim clerics, some of whom consider Ahmadiyyas to be heretics. However, Ahmadiyyas do not dispute the centrality of the Prophet in their religion.

Also Read |Ahmadiyyas find place as Islam sect in census

What’s happening with the Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan?

The Ahmadiya community faces frequent attacks and persecution in Pakistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has previously strongly condemned the desecration of an Ahmadiyya worship site in Punjab province’s Wazirabad district and called for the protection of such spaces of the religious minorities in the country.

Issues of desecration often relate to the removal of minarets from Ahmadiyya mosques. The presence of a minaret is considered to be giving the religious place the position of a mosque – which is opposed by many in Pakistan, and is also penalised in law.

In 1974, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto enacted an amendment to the constitution, declaring Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims. Flowing from this, they were barred from going to mosques.

Also Read |Three domes and the controversy around the ‘mosque-like’ bus stop in Mysuru

According to a document of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s 1984 ordinance introduced explicit discriminatory references to Ahmadiyyas in Sections 298-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

There are significant restrictions on Ahmadiyyas’ freedom of religion and expression, and violations could lead to fines and jail terms. In 2002, a supplementary list of voters was created in which Ahmadiyyas were categorised as non-Muslims. Even following amendments in the Constitution, Ahmadiyyas are the only religious group in Pakistan to continue being on a separate electoral list.

As per Section 298-C, “Any person of the Qadiani Group or the Lahori Group (who call themselves ‘Ahmedis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”

First published on: 03-02-2023 at 17:15 IST

source https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-global/why-are-ahmadiyya-mosques-in-pakistan-under-attack-by-vandals-8422349/

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