PRESS RELEASE – PRESS RELEASE – PRESS RELEASE
Persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan Intensifies
Vienna, 24th Nov, 2022. Ongoing persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan has intensified acutely with legal action being taken against an Ahmadi defense attorney by Karachi police because his name includes the prefix “Syed,” an honorific meaning descent from the Prophet Muhammad, according to the Vienna-based Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe (FOREF), and the International Human Rights Committee (IHRC).
Lawyer Syed Ali Ahmad Tariq was charged on 21 November 2022 under Pakistan’s notorious Penal Code sections 298-B and 298-C, which essentially criminalize adherence to the tenets of the Ahmadi Muslim faith. Over decades, these laws have been the basis for legal discrimination against Ahmadis, whose basic, internationally-protected freedoms have been increasingly eroded under the influence of religious extremism on the Pakistani government, legal system, and civil society.
“These charges mean that any Ahmadi using this common prefix is vulnerable to prosecution,” according to Aaron Rhodes, president of FOREF. “Discrimination against the Ahmadi community in Pakistan is already among the most egregious violations of the right to freedom of religion in the world, and it just got worse,” he added.
Complaints have also been registered under the aforementioned laws against Ahmadi places of worship, because they have minarets, as mosques commonly do. According to these laws, and Pakistan’s constitution, the Ahmadis are banned from use of any Islamic rituals and terminologies, and it is alleged that the minarets are misleading and “hurt the sentiments of Muslims.”
Legal actions against Ahmadis, such as the charges against Syed Ali Ahmad, pose an existential threat to millions of Pakistani citizens, as they legitimate violence against members of the group, which has led to the murder of numerous Ahmadis in recent years – with impunity for perpetrators.
FOREF thus appeals to Pakistan’s partners in the international community to denounce these charges and make clear that persecution of members of the Ahmadi community will be an obstacle to cooperation. FOREF appeals to Pakistani leaders to adhere to international norms that uphold the freedom of religion.