#IStandWithAhmadis because those who don’t cannot stand with Shias, Christians, Hindus, Parsis or each other

Published: December 17, 2015
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#IStandWithAhmadis because hate, intolerance and prejudice are the worst features of our species. PHOTO: TWITTER

#IStandWithAhmadis because hate, intolerance and prejudice are the worst features of our species. PHOTO: TWITTER #IStandWithAhmadis because hate, intolerance and prejudice are the worst features of our species. PHOTO: TWITTER A Pakistani refugee who is a member of the Ahmadi, an Islamic minority sect, carries his daughter as he is released from a detention centre in Bangkok June 6, 2011. 
PHOTO: REUTERS

A couple of days ago the #IStandWithAhmadis hashtag campaign trended in Pakistan. I tweeted it as well. A lot of my tweets were quite whimsical. I believe that sometimes the best catharsis is to confront anxiety with humour. Here though things are different. This time I say what I really feel, particularly now, in light of the protests outside Hafeez Center against the removal of anti-Ahmadi stickers outside a shop.

So in solidarity with one of our country’s most persecuted communities and indeed all those who suffer at the hands of tyranny #IStandWithAhmadis once again.

#IStandWithAhmadis.

#IStandWithAhmadis because we share the same earth, breathe the same air, pump the same blood and beat with the same heart.

#IStandWithAhmadis because of the common thread of humanity.

#IStandWithAhmadis because hate, intolerance and prejudice are the worst features of our species.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I don’t understand how people can protest on the streets in support of hate.

#IStandWithAhmadis because two of my best friends are a non-observant Jew and a nominal Catholic, and I’ve never once seen them through the prism of their religion.

#IStandWithAhmadis because they, my non-Muslim friends, showered me with kindness and compassion. I remember the times when they let me crash in their dorm rooms because our university had messed up my accommodation papers, when they bought me second hand books for my one of my birthdays and the solidarity they always showed when I fasted alone during Ramazan.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I don’t care about what anyone chooses to believe.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I’ve come back to where I was born; a country built by my fathers. But things are so different now, so full of sorrow.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I stand with the land of my forefathers, because I stand with Pakistan, because I ache for its survival.

#IStandWithAhmadis because those who persecute can never be in the right and I don’t want to be in the wrong.

#IStandWithAhmadis because nothing good has come from declaring Ahmadis non-Muslim, from prohibiting their freedom and from forcing them into the shadows. It is no longer just about them. It is about all of us. We suffer together.

#IStandWithAhmadis because hate cannot be contained. It will spread and engulf us all.

#IStandWithAhmadis because those who don’t stand with them cannot stand with Shias, Christians, Hindus, Parsis or anyone else. They can’t even stand with each other. All they know and understand is discord.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I believe that everyone should have the freedom to define themselves, to choose who they are, and to be who they want to be.

#IStandWithAhmadis because no child, as young as six, should have to sit in fear during a religious studies class.

#IStandWithAhmadis because of the Ahmadi child I met who none of the other kids would play with during recess because their teacher told them he was a kaffir.

#IStandWithAhmadis because when I asked him how he would spend his break he said,

“I usually go to the corner and play on my own.”

#IStandWithAhmadis because of the tears that poured from his eyes as he said this.

#IStandWithAhmadis because of the family who built a business from nothing and ran it for 50 years, over three generations, only to see it burned down in less than three hours.

#IStandWithAhmadis because even with all the wrongs done to them the only help they seek is through God.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I want to stand with people like Abdus Salam, Zafarullah Khan and MM Ahmad.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I have buried more of them than I can remember. Because I don’t ever want to see, or lift up on my shoulders another wooden box with another Ahmadi body. I don’t. Never again.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I live behind a wall of masks. And every time I meet another widow, an orphan, a grieving mother, every single disguise betrays me as it slips away in horror leaving me to the mercy of my raw emotions.

#IStandWithAhmadis because it’s time to permanently take off the mask.

#IStandWithAhmadis because so much about me is broken and battered. I can’t find the words to express how torn I am inside. I want the persecution to stop, so we can all heal.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I can’t sleep at night. I stay awake and recount the horrors that the Ahmadi community has endured.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I am seething with anger. It is consuming me. It has become me. My friends now find me quiet and withdrawn. They mistake my reticence for cold indifference, but it is not. There’s nothing cold about it.

#IStandWithAhmadis because I can’t give in to the rage. I must live my life as a peaceful man. For my wife, my kids, for the all the people who I love in silence. But most of all for myself. If you can’t live in peace then you’ll always live in fear. And that’s not life; that’s not living.

#IStandWithAhmadis because there is little else I can do. No matter how much my daydreams may wish it, I’m not Superman nor am I about to become him. None of us are. But that doesn’t mean that the smallest of our efforts can’t make a difference.

#IStandWithAhmadis but I am just a writer, and not even a good one to be honest. These undistinguished words are all I have. It’s not a lot but it’s something. And as long as there is something, I am going to keep on standing.

Usman Ahmad

Usman Ahmad

A British freelance writer and photographer based in Pakistan. His worked has been published with Foreign Policy Magazine, The Huffington Post and The National among others. He tweets @usmanahmad_iam (twitter.com/UsmanAhmad_iam?lang=en) and you can see his work on his website usman-ahmad.com.

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

  • vinsin

    It is just too late now.Recommend

  • Usman

    Bravo!Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    #IStandwithAhmadis not because I am one, but because Ahmadis helped the creation of Pakistan, they helped the development of Pakistan, they helped defend Pakistan, and when Pakistan persecuted and slaughtered Ahmadis, they still prayed for Pakistan with their heart and soul.Recommend

  • Milind A

    “#IStandWithAhmadis because they, my non-Muslim friends, showered me with kindness and compassion.”

    I think this statement is arrogance of the highest order and judgemental at the worst.. Terming them non-Muslim, while they themselves claim to be Muslims would further lead to misunderstanding and violence.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    I really like this article. Very well written and is exhaustive also.Recommend

  • Hameed

    Oh look hundreds of comments in support, not!!! Where is the “Oh my religion is the religion of peace” brigade when you need them?Recommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    The more light you bring to the history and present of any mass-marketed religion………….. the darker it gets!Recommend

  • micky

    I am just a writer, and not even a good one to be honest this is trueRecommend

  • Shahid0

    Thank you usman. If you want to learn more about the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement send me and email on [email protected]Recommend

  • Allah Hafiz

    #I stand with Everyone who is suffered by this nonsense pedophillic ideology…Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    You must be kidding me! Recommend

  • Hameed

    Outside a major electonics market (Hafeez Centre) in Gulberg, Lahore. Says Qadianis (Ahmadis) must be given visible symbol of identification.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CWTCUMaWwAAUQEp.jpg

    I think we should now accept that majority in Pakistan is not moderate.Recommend

  • Lotus

    Thanks Bhutto Sr. who started all this nonsence for this country which was founded on very liberal grounds and continued to practice it for many years.ZAB in order to continue his reign tried to Islamise our beloved country without a scant thought that it will all open a Pandora’s box which no one will be able to control.In short Bhutto did the ground work which was sowed by Zia;both totally responsible for landing us in this mess.Recommend

  • Lotus

    It was Bhutto Sr. who created this mess of declaring some one Muslim and the other not.It was to prolong his rule by using this tactics.Imagine there are at least 72 sects of Muslims due to different interpretation and if one is declared non Muslim then who is a Muslim becomes a problem with no simple solution.
    Bhutto prepared the ground work and then Zia merely reaped the field;both for their ulterior motives.Recommend

  • Anon

    Dear people, remove religion from schools and make this country happier again.Recommend

  • Anon

    That’s what Adolf Hitler did with Jews.Recommend

  • siesmann

    Who or what somebody is ,is an accident of birth.Respect for each other is what is needed.Recommend

  • Hasan Asif

    It is never too late to do the right thing.Recommend

  • Shahid0

    so you wish to remain ignorant ?Recommend

  • Miyagi Jr.

    I can say the same thing about you, with conviction.Recommend

  • Shahid0

    And yet I read so much about the US from US sources whereas you just want to read right wing propaganda and nothing more. When did you last read something from a different perspective?Recommend