#IStandWithAhmadis, and so should you

Published: December 5, 2015

Pakistani Ahmadi community members gathering at their worship place after a suicide attack in Lahore on May 28, 2010. PHOTO: AFP

Pakistani Ahmadi community members gathering at their worship place after a suicide attack in Lahore on May 28, 2010. PHOTO: AFP A mob in Jhelum, Punjab, burned a factory, while another mob in a nearby town destroyed Ahmadi homes and their place of worship. PHOTO: TWITTER (@AroojNajmusaqib)

Here in Pakistan, we often feel affronted by the mistreatment of the minorities overseas, we identify with racially, religiously, or culturally. Any occurrence of a mosque defiled, or a Muslim man or woman being abused in the West, is quickly shared across social media captioned with angry messages.

This, of course, is fair enough. As someone who considers himself to be a member of this planet rather than defined by race or religion, I feel humanity should know no boundaries. That being said, it is difficult to fathom how the volume of our outrage is directly proportional to the distance of the tragedy from us.

A Muslim man attacked because of his religion in the US shall result in Muslims in Pakistan calling a meeting of humans, elves, hobbits, and wizards to discuss the incident while waving their sabres and staffs. On the other hand, a destruction of an Ahmadi place of worship next door will barely merit a whisper.

The #IStandWithAhmadis is a social media campaign set to last 10 days and is generating considerable buzz on Twitter. Through #IStandWithAhmadis, plenty of people on social media have shown their support for the Pakistanis who have been facing systemic persecution and human rights abuses for the last 50 years.

For those interested, the ‘IStandWithAhmadis’ website is an excellent resource to support, mobilise, educate, and spread loving awareness.

There are five million Ahmadis in Pakistan, and the only frustrations they should face are bijli problems, paani issues and supporting a cricket team that loses habitually – you know, like the rest of us. Instead, they have to learn to walk across broken glass in their own nation because they never know when some lunatic will make their life a living hell.

Recently, a mob in Jhelum, Punjab, burned a factory, while another mob in a nearby town destroyed Ahmadi homes and their place of worship. Later, the monsters who committed these crimes were seen cheering as they danced around the wreckage.

A gut-wrenching report from Tanqeed.org shares more about these events, including how the police had to pretend to arrest Ahmadi boys in order to save them:

“When the enraged mob reached the said worship place, the police had to intervene and in a rare incident of fairness rescued three Ahmadi youth from inside the worship place.”

Unfortunately, the law enforcement officials were mostly part of the problem:

“Police came with their minds made up that Qamar Tahir had burnt pages of the Holy Quran and thrown them in one (of) the factory boilers. God forbid, why would he commit such a heinous act? We are practicing people, but the police pointed at Qamar Sahib saying that he had committed that act.

On Tahir’s arrest, his sons questioned the police, so police arrested them also. One of the boys is still a young teenager, less than 18-years-old. I saw that they were manhandling the boys, slapping them and pulling their hair, says Imran. After the arrests, police personnel arrived again at the factory twice, within a span of 30 to 45 minutes. On the last trip, the District Police Officer (DPO) arrived and went to the boiler where the religious scripture was allegedly thrown. The factory staffer who is allegedly behind the blasphemy charges was the one with the police, Imran says. I did not see the DPO consulting any senior managers of our office. Instead, he went straight to the boiler with the complainant and then left. Qamar’s boys were later released.”

Here, things took a turn for the worse,

“That is when factory staffers saw men gathering outside the factory on motorbikes, and began to be alarmed. Imran and his Ahmadi colleagues quickly gathered and decided to leave the area. Within 45 minutes, Imran and a few families from the colony nearby which holds about eight homes of Ahmadi residents, had begun to organise an escape. Because Imran and some of the others did not have families, it was easy for them to leave the residential area. However, the youth were told by their elders to return to the area near the factory. The mob was at the brink of breaking down the factory gate, and loudspeakers had begun calls of protest and violent actions against Ahmadis. The young Ahmadi youth were needed to assist those hiding out and get them to safety.”

Amongst the influential, reaction has been sadly muted in Pakistan.

Of course, when Israelis cheer as they bomb Gaza, our rage-o-meter kicks into overdrive, almost as if we only care about Muslim lives when they are threatened by non-Muslims.

The elephant in the room is that Ahmadis aren’t considered Muslims by Pakistan (as per the Constitution of Pakistan). Regardless of belief differences, does any Pakistani deserve to be treated like a second class citizen? Let’s be realistic. Most religious people follow their religion because they were born into it. Religion is like family; not everyone gets to choose.

In Pakistan, Ahmadi children are left orphans, Ahmadi women are left widows, and Ahmadi families are left homeless with alarming regularity. Meanwhile, culprits have the audacity to target this minority group because they don’t fear reprisal. Neither our politicians nor our law enforcement officials will take this issue seriously until we make our voices heard.

Personally, I can’t imagine what it is like to live like an unwelcome foreigner on your own soil. This is one of the reasons why #IStandWithAhmadis and so should you.

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (twitter.com/Pugnate)

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

  • Striver

    We are all Pakistanis. #IStandWithAhmedis and so should you. I have already re-tweed this article.
    Before throwing your first stone or firing your first bullet STOP ! THINK ! What if that gun was pointed at you. The thought of your orphaned children; your widow-to-be; your mother; leaving them at the mercy of this cruel society to fend for them? Can you bear the thought?
    …and neither can the living being your are pointing your gun at. He/She is at your mercy. You are part of that cruel society for him/her.


  • knightridrr

    I am fairly optimistic that this generation can make life easier for coming generations. I stand with humanity therefore #IStandWithAhmadis.Recommend

  • Nasir Jadran

    Very well written article to wake the masses up. But I can almost say it with certainty that none will have courage to get up. However, if you would not stand with Ahmadis many others will by the Grace of Allah! I have very optimistic view that Pakistan will be the country who will be ashamed on their past acts against minorities, particularly against Ahmadis. With that #IStandwithAhmadis do you have courage to do so?Recommend

  • Vidya Bhushan Rawat

    Its a wonderful initiative and I stand with your campaign even if it does not affect me in India. But as a friend and supporter in human rights, we feel communities are known when they are a majority. That it is emerging in Pakistan is a good sign and it will send positive signal to all. South Asians are turning into tyranny of majorities in the name of democracy and minorities are being considered as dissenters who should be done away with. It is time we stand with all kind of dissenters, minorities and ensure that they have as much freedom as we have. I extend my greetings and support to #IstandwithAhmadis campaign.Recommend

  • Naseer Ahmed

    Love for all Hatred for NoneRecommend

  • Kickass

    You are too biased to post comments that disagree with your foolish “stand”.Recommend

  • Abdul Kadir

    Why should we support people who r trying to ruin our religion and make it a joke!
    Pakistan is pak and for pure Allah followers
    Supporting these kind of people will ruin our future generations who will be misguided of the true meaning of Islam.Recommend

  • Ghulam

    what disturbs me most is that majority of the people here don’t even care. i was constantly receiving messages from my non-ahmadi friends saying YOUM-E-TAKBEER MUBARAK when they all knew that i am am ahmadi and definitely i would be in a very bad state of mind.Recommend

  • SRK

    So Noman, when are you returning your Pakistani Passport where you in writing signed away the right of Ahmadis to be included and treated on par with Muslims ?Recommend

  • Jude Allen

    Dear Noman Ansari, I stand to salute your bold approach to this sensitive subject. Bless you my friend – You have earned my utmost respect. I STAND in solidarity and unity with the Ahmadi community in Pakistan irrespective of the consequences of my statement. Humanity will overcome this too and move ahead towards a better, progressive and more tolerant Pakistan …eventually.Recommend

  • someone

    I stand with Ahmadis – I stand with HumanityRecommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    “Why should we support people who r trying to ruin our religion and make it a joke!”
    exactly, and so you should stand with Ahmadis and say Hashtag that is
    #IStandwithAhmadis, or with an E, your choice.Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    Wow, almost 3 days, and only 12 comments!
    If this was against Muslims of other countries, it would have easily hit 100+ comments for IStandwith…… by now!
    So much prejudice, so much hate.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    As soon as you stop making bad movies Shah Rukh Khan… which is like… never?Recommend