“We will beat them, we will lynch them”, they chanted, before setting fire to the Ahmadi factory

Published: November 23, 2015

Firefighters extinguish fire at the factory torched by the angry mob. PHOTO: AFP

With the recent rise of Islamophobia in the United States, most Pakistanis have suddenly become experts on minority rights. My social media timelines are filled with Pakistanis urging the West to accommodate Syrian refugees escaping persecution, and be more accepting of pluralism. I also see my countrymen condemning the Western media for having double standards, and not giving enough airtime to aggrieved Muslims. Many have also erupted in fury over Donald Trump’s recent Islamophobic comments

All these grievances in far-off lands are justified, but an incident here at home on Friday has put our uprightness on these same issues in question once again.

In the darkness of the night, an extremist mob attacked the Pakistan Chipboard Factory and the adjacent residential complex in Jhelum and burnt it down to ashes. The factory belonged to an Ahmadi. The attack was preceded by calls from local mosques asking “honourable (ghairatmand) Muslims” to defend their faith and religion against the “filthy Qadiani” blasphemers.

Someone had accused a worker at the factory of defiling verses of the Quran. Extremist clerics are known for inciting violent mob attacks on minority faith communities based on trumped up charges of blasphemy. In recent years, the Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus have all been victims of such mob violence.

Without any further enquiry and without any regard for due process, a growing mob set out to serve justice. With 200 workers normally on site, the factory was pelted with rocks and then set ablaze.

When the police was unable to control the situation, the army was called in to help. Though it was too late to rescue the building complex, those trapped inside were luckily able to run to safety; some taking refuge in nearby bushes till the mob was dispersed.

In a video from the rampage, an angry mob can be seen chanting, “God is great” repeatedly, and using expletives for the Ahmadis. A ringleader can be heard asking the crowd to burn everything down within 20 minutes. The charged mob agrees,

“We will beat them, we will lynch them.”

The instigator then tells the mob that anyone who didn’t take part in the arson would be a disbeliever, ensuring maximum religious participation in the attack.

It was a night of horror for Jhelum’s Ahmadi community. But it was not yet over for them. The thirst of the mischievous mullahs wasn’t quenched just yet.

One would think this incident would prompt law enforcement to secure the area’s Ahmadi property and mosques in anticipation of further attacks. And they did, but not enough to stop what was to follow. The attackers re-grouped in larger numbers the following morning and stormed the Ahmadi place of worship in nearby Kala Gujran. The place of worship was ransacked, its property thrown out and torched in the street. According to some reports, this also included a copy of the Quran. But that’s apparently fine since it wasn’t the kafirs, but God’s ‘chosen men’ doing the burning.

The building was then properly cleaned, and victory was celebrated by saying the Asr prayer within the building. Yet another building had been conquered by radical mullahism in the name of God.

Photo: Rabwah Times

Photo: Rabwah Times

Photo: Rabwah Times

Photo: Rabwah Times

Ironically, three Ahmadis have so far been arrested, with no arrests from the attacking mob and the clerics who instigated the trouble. The situation in the district is still tense, with Ahmadis fearful of their security in hiding.

And all this while, I was hoping the issue of the basic rights and protection of Pakistan’s five million Ahmadi citizens will finally seep into mainstream national discourse. After all, it’s the National Action Plan era. But unfortunately, nothing seems different so far. It is clear that we – as Pakistanis – are concerned about minority rights only in distant lands, not in our own.

So how is this recent attack on the Ahmadis relevant to our recent outpouring of rage on social media? It, once again, exposes our utter dishonesty and hypocrisy.

We decry Islamophobia in the West, but turn a blind eye to the rampant – and far more putrid – anti-Ahmadi bigotry in Pakistan. We cry out when Donald Trump suggests Muslims carry special identification badges, yet overlook the fact that for four decades, our own Ahmadi citizens have been forced to carry such discriminatory IDs – identification that has left them disenfranchised. Not just this, the state also mandates that all Pakistani Muslims abuse the spiritual leader of the Ahmadi community to obtain a ‘Muslim’ passport. What if Trump wanted Christians to testify to the falsehood (God forbid) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to obtain a ‘Christian’ ID? A few fuses would blow – may be even literally.

We scream out in anguish when Trump suggests some mosques be closed. Yet, we ignore the fact that we are responsible for closing down, sealing, torching, or occupying over a 100 Ahmadi places of worship in the last few decades. What Trump merely suggests for Muslims, we have been successfully implementing against the Ahmadis. Ahmadis are not permitted to say the Kalma, Salam, Azaan, pray in public, read the Quran in public, identify as Muslim or identify their place of worship as a mosque. Each of these carries a three-year sentence under Pakistan’s Ordinance XX.

We urge bigoted politicians in the West to be more accepting of Syrian refugees. But we forget the fact that every year, numerous Ahmadis leave Pakistan to seek refuge in ChinaSri LankaThailandNepal, and in Western nations, escaping the threats they face here at home. We want other nations to accept refugees, while we continue to create numerous refugees of our own. Numerous Hazara Shias and Hindus have also emigrated out for the same reasons.

We also show strong outrage over the Western media’s bias towards Muslims. But we conveniently discount how our own media treats our minorities? When was the last time you saw an Ahmadi spokesperson giving their opinion on television? Even as almost 100 Ahmadis were mercilessly gunned down in Lahore in 2010, the media in Pakistan blacked out the Ahmadis. The official response of the Ahmadi community was censored from the media. And in the wake of the Jhelum attacks, is there any television channel that has taken the Ahmadi point of view on air? Anyone that has given voice to their grievances? Where else in the world does the electronic media leave the very people under attack out of the discourse altogether?

Here’s my point my fellows. We are a bunch of hypocrites. We are a dishonest people. This may sound harsh. But it is the mildest way to state this truth. And unless we change things for our own people here at home, our voice will have zero impact elsewhere.

So next time you speak of how minorities are treated in the West, also reflect into your own attitudes towards your own minority communities back home. Raise your voice to end the apathy. Speak up for your own countrymen too. Let it be known that you will not allow this to continue anymore in your name. Reclaim your spaces from the extremists who have occupied them, and write the narrative for a pluralistic and tolerant Pakistan.

For all this my fellow Pakistanis, let us first end our hypocrisy!

kashif.chaudhry

Kashif Chaudhry

A graduate of King Edward Medical University, Lahore and Mt Sinai University Hospital in New York, Kashif is currently completing his Cardiology fellowship in Boston, USA. He writes for various American newspapers and Pakistani publications and blogs at the Huffington Post. His interests include medicine, human rights and interfaith dialogue. He tweets @KashifMD (twitter.com/KashifMD)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Miyagi Jr.

    NAP or don’t NAP. This is going nowhere. As long as our own citizens are discriminated in the constitution, there will never be peace for the minority community in specific and majority in general. They will always create minorities under Blasphemy laws.
    For Jinnah’s sake, give Pakistan its freedom of religion and expression. And get rid of the discriminatory laws in the constitution is the only way forward.Recommend

  • Bharatiya Australian

    You are very courageous person and salute to you as you have exposed the hypocrisy with such clarity…We wish people in Pakistan and people from other countries reading this come out of their religious biases on looking at humans and get reality check in their own backyards before pointing fingers at others.Recommend

  • Newton

    The country that was formed to be the guardian of Islam is now besieged by those who think that they are the BETTER, more righteous guardians. Therefore the Taliban, this mob or the Mullahs who have a hotline with God.Recommend

  • Nair Mahalakshmi

    The conditions of the minority in Pakistan got exposed. Pakistan also plays a role of hypocrisy in talking about the conditions of the Indian minority Muslims. Recommend

  • Rubi

    Someone explain why this mob is any different than ISIS? Islamic extremist are a danger to the World – doesn’t matter whether they are called Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS or “mob”.
    .
    If something like this happened in the West the authorities would pull out all stops – the govt, military, police and religious leaders would stand arm/arm and condemn the attackers who would find no place to hide and all end up in prison.Recommend

  • bigsaf

    Hypocrisy and dishonesty really are mild terms. However, it’s time to call out the mainstream intolerant bigotry, extremist condoning and Eastern Pakistani/Muslim hypocrisy of the majority…Recommend

  • Anshika

    They were lecturing Indians on intolerance. Fact is Pakistan is world most intolerant state in the world and more dangerous than Is. Recommend

  • Rohan

    “most Pakistanis have suddenly become experts on minority rights. My social media timelines are filled with Pakistanis urging the West to accommodate Syrian refugees”

    Most Pakistanis are hypocrites anyways

    An Ahmadi signed the Lahore declaration the so called declaration which created Pakistan.Now it’s payback time, there’s a thing called karma too
    Recommend

  • Komal S

    Let us compare this with what happened to the muslim man for allegedly eating beef. A right wing forced the temple priest to make announcement, a handful of mob went to his house and killed him. The state machinery got their act together and arrested the people involved. The villagers came together and supported the muslim family. Within few days the Hindus in the Village came together to support the marriage in the muslim family. 40 liberal artists have returned their awards since then. All political leaders including some from Ruling BJP has made strong statements against intolerance. The muslim community has been very active in the media against this. The Son of the muslim man who got killed said that Bihar election victory was a message against intolerance. Would like to see how average Pakistan responds to the Ahmedi victims.Recommend

  • Ramakrishna

    Excellent article bro!! May your tribe increase and better sense prevails..Recommend

  • Ravian

    Religious intolerance can only be countered by effectively punishing those who take laws into their hands. Some 40 people accused of burning the factory have been apprehended so far. Besides, there have been some positive changes, such as the SC Mumtaz qadri verdict and increased awareness among people to towards minority rights. The extremism fomented over 40 years will take time to go away.Recommend

  • Ravian

    Karma indeed, Sikhs and Indian Muslims in India are repentant of their choice.Recommend

  • Ravian

    Please ask your Government stop the economic blockade of Nepal, the only Hindu state in the worldRecommend

  • Ravian

    My dear, read the newspapers and you will see the Government response. An Assistant Commissioner was injured by the mob while he was evacuating (ahmadi) people from the vicinity. Police are guarding the Ahmadi homes and 40 people have been arrested for arson attack. Of course there is intolerance but there is no indifference.Recommend

  • Human

    why is the Govt not doing anything now . What ever your religion is whats it to them
    No religion allows this , we have to & should respect all religions & each otherRecommend

  • Rohan

    Not really,They are certainly better off in India than in Pakistan and the best part is they know thatRecommend

  • Rohan

    Stop obsessing over India and worry about your own PakistanRecommend

  • hp kumar

    where comes political issues into this?Pl focus on the topicRecommend

  • hp kumar

    yeah ..thats why they r moving to pakistan in hordes??lolRecommend

  • talha usmani

    Really ashamed to be a Pakistani after what happened in Jhelum or every time an event like this happens with one of the minority communities. This can’t be done by rightful Muslims, it can only be done by monsters in the garb of humans. These people are no different to the Mob which attacked a Muslim man in India or to the
    Buddhists who attack Muslims in Burma. I believe that definition of Islam and being a Muslim has totally been twisted in Pakistan. Its high time people start understanding Quran & Sunnah by themselves and don’t depend on monstrous mullahs.Recommend

  • Fawad Ali

    she was talking positive about India, that system responded in positive maneer there, In pakistan there is no response.Recommend

  • JP

    Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Chhattisgarh, Laddakh, Kashmir
    in Hindustan are killing fields. Where Muslims are killed indiscriminately.
    In East Bengal, whole Muslim villages are set on fire, by Hindus on some perceived indiscretion. Latest, a Hindu girl fell in love with a Muslim boy.
    Then there are indigenous ethnic cleansing by Bharati Army in Nagaland
    Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala. The savage rule of the army and paramilitary
    forces in Hindustan would put the Nazis to shame.There is no freedom of
    the press in Bharat. And these areas are like a Black Hole on earth. No
    news seeps out. Give or take, there are 72 insurgencies in Hindustan.
    Bharati occupied Kashmir is in a category by itself. A rule of blood and
    and savagery unprecedented. Mirror image of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
    So these Hindu trolls are lecturing here on ET?

    ET moderators this is the truth Bharat does not want out there, for the world.Recommend

  • LS

    Read the comment a thousand times till it makes sense… in a real way. Lack of comprehension skills?Recommend

  • Rohan

    I don’t know why the incident in India is mentioned hereRecommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    yes they are expert in minority rights , dont u know how tolerant most pakistanis are, they have hindu house maids and christian sweepersRecommend

  • Brutus

    So, the burning and killing of Ahmadis in Pakistan has something or perhaps, everything to do with Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Chattisgarh and other ringa, ringa states of India! Right? That gives you a birthright to commit any and every kind of atrocity on Ahmadis. India this, India that, a Hindu girl fell in love with a Muslim boy, ethnic cleansing in Kerala! Holy Lord! Are you crazy? ? Does your irrelevant anti-India rantings, gives you or anybody else a right to harass/victimize/kill Ahmadis? There’s a thin line that divides sanity from insanity.
    “there are 72 insurgencies in Hindustan” Ok, once again, may I ask, what’s that got do with problems faced by the Ahmadi community? Is that the number 72 carries a special significance to you? Has it got something to do with your celestial fantasies? The houris? Perhaps.

    If so, please stay in your dreamland and leave the poor Ahmadis and the rest of the humanity to their fate.Recommend

  • LS

    To show how government reacted in a positive way unlike elsewhere who claim to be “Tolerant” but bomb/ Kill/ Rape the bejesus out themRecommend

  • Rohan

    It’s Pakistanis that take the holier than thou approach and pass laws such as declaring ahmadis as non Muslims, wake up and smell the coffeeRecommend

  • LS

    But OP isn’t Pakistani.. She is Indian.. though I agree with Paki’s holier than thou attitude despite being in a worse situation they feel proud in pointing fingers.Recommend

  • Ravian

    Pakistan is not the only place left in the world to escape to, see how many of them are leaving India to settle in the west.Recommend

  • Ravian

    This shows the true face of Indian Government and how they treat their neighbours. The same mentality comes into play when they deal with Pakistan.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Look into your heart first,and then speakRecommend

  • siesmann

    None of the above will opt for a country like Pakistan,peopled by bigots like you.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Monsters in Pakistan are not confronted like it is done in other countries.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Then why they created it?Recommend

  • vinsin

    Nepal is not a Hindu State.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Then why Muslims dont move to Pakistan then? If they are killed how come their population has increased. This is the question that world is asking.Recommend