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PAKISTAN: Mob kills 3 – a woman, a young girl, & a baby

PAKISTAN: Mob kills 3 Ahmadis – a woman, a young girl, & a baby

July 29, 2014

On Sunday evening, July 27, a crowd of around 150 fanatics attacked a small, peaceful community of 17 Ahmadi families living in Arafat Colony, on the outskirts of Gujranwala district, Punjab. As a result of the attack, eight houses were burned down. Three Ahmadis in one of the houses succumbed to the flames. All the three were female, and two were young children.

Not only have the federal and provincial governments failed to provide security for the community, no move has been made to arrest the local mosque leader who delivered a hate speech, calling for the murder of Ahmadis.

Those killed in the attack include Bashiran, a 55-year-old woman, Kainat, an eight-month-old baby girl, and Hira, a seven-year-old girl. Another Ahmadi woman, seven months pregnant, suffered a miscarriage and lost her baby. Eight others have been badly burnt and are in hospital. A storage building and several vehicles have also been attacked over the alleged blasphemy.
Local Muslim clergy have been engaged in spreading propaganda to incite people to kill Ahmadis. Such anti-Ahmadiyya attacks are fuelled, in part, by Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which targets Ahmadis and negates their rights to freedom of faith and religion.

According to unconfirmed reports, Ahmadi, Saqib, son of Ahmad Din, allegedly shared on Facebook a blasphemous picture of Khan-e-Kaaba with Ejaz, the son of a mosque leader. This was apparently the spark that ultimately led to the attack.

Then to fan the flames against Ahmadis, Ejaz claimed that Ahmadis had fired shots from the house of a local doctor, injuring Ejaz and another person. The two who claimed to have been injured in the shooting were, however, themselves involved in burning and attacking the houses of Ahmadis.

The mosque leader, Mailvi Zakariya of Jama Masjid Siddiquiya, delivered a fiery speech that incited the people of Maderassa to attack Ahmadis homes.

Fire trucks responding to the arson attacks had to turn back due to the gathered mob, and the local police prevented anybody from intervening to stop the fires. A large contingent of police was present, but they were unwilling to stop the violent mob.

Local residents and the media blame the Punjab provincial government for triggering sectarian killings in order to divert attention from the current political crisis, and to influence the judicial commission that is investigating the June 17 incident, in which 13 people were killed and 80 injured. In the June 17 incident, the Punjab government ordered the police to shoot directly at the demonstrators, who were resisting the police barricade outside the house of the religious and political leader, Allam Tahirul Qadri.
The news of this tragedy spread around the world and has been internationally condemned. In accordance with usual practice, the Pakistan Government has not even acknowledged the June 17 incident, forget about taking action against perpetrators or expressing sympathy to the bereaved.

The international community is well aware of the continuous murders of Ahmadis, on account of their beliefs. A few weeks ago, a young Ahmadi was murdered in Nawabshah, in broad daylight, for reason other than being an Ahmadi. And, few months ago, an eminent cardiologist from the USA, who was in Pakistan to provide voluntary service, was also killed.

In response to attacks on Ahmadis, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has stated the following:

“HRCP is shocked and disgusted at the killing of four citizens belonging to the Ahmadi faith after a blasphemy allegation. Four other Ahmadis were reported to be hospitalised in a critical condition. As things stand in the country now, particularly in Punjab, a blasphemy charge, however unfounded, makes such cold-blooded killings somehow less repulsive. The people who were killed were not even indirectly accused of the blasphemy charge. Their only fault was that they were Ahmadi. Torching women and children in their house simply because of their faith represents brutalisation and barbarism stooping to new lows. That the mob was dancing for the TV camera after torching the houses of people who were not even accused of blasphemy proves that the whole episode had nothing to do with blasphemy but was aimed at further vitimising an already persecuted community.”

Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law does not clearly define blasphemy, but states that the offence is punishable by death. Anyone can file a blasphemy case – claiming his or her religious feelings have been hurt. The accused are often lynched, and lawyers and judges defending or acquitting them have been attacked. Rights groups say the blasphemy law has been used to seize money and property.

For further details into attacks on Ahmadis in the recent past see PAKISTAN: The houses of Ahmadis are under attack and the police are providing protection to the attackers and PAKISTAN: Appeasement policy towards religious intolerance leads to murder of a governor.

The number of blasphemy accusations in Pakistan is rising, according to a 2012 study by the Center for Research and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank. In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in 2011 there were as many as 80. Figures are yet unavailable but it appears 2014 will be a record year. In May 2014, 68 lawyers were charged with blasphemy for using the name 'Umar' in protest slogans against a police official of the same name. In the same month, prominent human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman, who was defending a university professor accused of blasphemy, was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government to stop the violent campaign against the Ahmadiyya community and take strong action against all the perpetrators and instigators. The actions of the attackers and the role of the mosque leader, Maulvi Zakariya, need to be investigated.

The government must stop the policy of appeasing fundamentalists. Action must be taken against the Gujranwala police as well, as they deliberately refused to intervene as the mob looted and burned the Ahmadi homes. The law against the use of loudspeakers from the mosques needs to be enforced; such loudspeakers are being used to broadcast religious and sectarian hatred throughout society.

ENDS

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