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Social activists demand apology after lawmaker suggests Ahmadi ban

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Lahore (AsiaNews) – Christian and Muslim activists are planning protests after a member of Pakistani National Assembly called for restriction on Ahmadis for applying for the armed forces, atomic energy commission, judiciary and bureaucracy. “In this false religion, there is no concept of Jihad [holy war] in the cause of Allah. We do not want to see the enemies of Prophet in key [public] posts,” said a visibly charged Captain (retired) Safdar, son-in-law of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his Oct 10 speech in the National Assembly.

“It is their policy to marry their daughters to people in key posts and then achieve their mission through those daughters. People in bureaucracy, political parties and judiciary should sign certificates declaring their belief in the Prophet Muhammad as the last prophet.”

Since declared as non-Muslims in 1974, Ahmadis have been facing violence and persecution in the Islamic Republic. In 1984, General Zia ul Haq introduced laws that made it a criminal act for any Ahmadi to identify or ‘pose’ as a Muslim. Under these laws, thousands rounded up from across the country and jailed for ‘crimes’ such as saying the Islamic greeting of ‘AssalamoAlikum’, reciting the Islamic call to prayer, reading the Quran and identifying as Muslim.

256 have been killed, 65 were denied burial in Muslim graveyards and 27 places of worships have been demolished from 1984 to 2015. The community does not speak to media, boycotts every elections and only communicates its grievances through Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya spokesperson Saleemuddin. “Safdar is not a credible person. Ahmadis have helped in forming, strengthening and developing the country. But our contribution has been set aside in history books,” he told AsiaNews. “The speaker of assembly should have stopped him. His speech was given full coverage on national television. It will increase hate and anger. We are already against the wall, people are against our lives.”

Safdar, a member of national assembly MNA also demanded that the name of the physics department of the Quaid e Azam University in Islamabad should be after a Muslim. Presently that block is titled as Dr. Abdul Salam, the Ahmadi professor awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to developing the theory of electroweak unification in particle physics. Pakistan’s first foreign minister, Sir Zafarullah Khan, was also an Ahmadi by faith.

Peter Jacob the Catholic Executive Director of Center for Social Justice labelled the controversial speech as political opportunism. “The accountability court is presently hearing corruption cases against the Sharif family and now they are trying to attract the vote bank of a certain mind set. The whole civil society in a single voice demands that the former PM takes notice. This is an incitement to violence and must be taken into consideration,” he said.

The Institute for Peace and secular studies IPSS is planning a protest in Lahore. “We want a public apology from the MNA. An online petition will be launched and submitted to Nawaz Sharif. Our society is already polarized and sectarian killings are occurring every day. Such statements strengthen extremist groups. People cannot be silenced in presence of social media,” said Saeeda Deep Muslim Director IPSS.

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