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28 places of worship of Ahmadis attacked, destroyed in 2023 in Pakistan, says report

The report, brought out by the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan, representing the persecuted community, said that since January 2023, at least 28 incidents of desecration of its places of worship have taken place across the country with 10 of these occurring in Sindh and remaining in Punjab province.
Last Updated : 12 September 2023, 14:03 IST
Last Updated : 12 September 2023, 14:03 IST

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At least 28 places of worship of the Ahmadi minority community have either been attacked by radical Islamists or partially demolished by police in different parts of Pakistan so far in 2023, a report said on Tuesday.

The report, brought out by the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan, representing the persecuted community, said that since January 2023, at least 28 incidents of desecration of its places of worship have taken place across the country with 10 of these occurring in Sindh and remaining in Punjab province.

“Some Ahmadi places of worship came under attack by a radical Islamist party while in other incidents, police, under the pressure of religious extremists, demolished minarets and arches and removed sacred writings,” the report said.

The latest such incident was on Friday, September 8, when the arches of a place of worship of the Ahmadis were destroyed by the police in Punjab province, in defiance of a high court order banning such actions against the places of worship of the minority community built before 1984.

The radical Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is reportedly at the forefront of stoking hatred against Ahmadis and exerting pressure on police action against its places of worship. However, not a single case against the TLP activists has been registered for their alleged involvement in any such incident so far.

Earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said the destruction of part of Ahmadiyya sites of worship is a brazen violation of the recent Lahore High Court judgment regarding the protection of Ahmadiyya sites of worship.

“It demonstrates yet again that the community is being hemmed in systematically and deliberately by law enforcement and the religious far right alike. According to the 2014 Supreme Court judgment, the police are supposed to protect the community’s right to practice its faith. The government must hold the perpetrators accountable, repair the damage and ensure that this does not recur again,” the HRCP had said.

The Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan says the situation is becoming worse day by day for the already marginalised Ahmadis in the country. “Ahmadis are facing persecution at the hands of the evil elements. The acts of desecration of the places of worship in various areas of Pakistan continue unabated. It is a new norm and the authorities are doing nothing,” the report said.

The police are complicit with the extremist elements and instead of protecting the Ahmadi places of worship, they are demolishing them, the report said, and observed that it was extremely sad how “mobs use religion as an excuse for their bigotry.”

“Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar Kakar had said the state is with the oppressed. It’s time that he should keep his words and send a strong signal to everyone that Pakistan stands with its vulnerable communities,” Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan official Amir Mahmood told PTI.

Commenting on the demolition of Ahmadiyya places of worship by the state officials “to fulfil the illegal wishes of an extremist party,” Mahmood said, “it can be concluded that the state departments are being blackmailed by fearing the malice of the extremist party.” Ahmadis are usually referred to as Qadianis in Pakistan, which is considered a derogatory term for them. Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. They are banned from preaching and from travelling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.

Although the number of Ahmadis in Pakistan is around a million, unofficial figures put their population much higher.

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Published 12 September 2023, 14:03 IST

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