Founded in 1889 by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Ahmadiyya community is a religious group which deems itself to be Muslim. Ahmadiyyas differ from other Muslims over the definition of Prophet Mohammad being the final monotheist prophet. Many Muslims consider the Ahmadiyya to be non-Muslims and they are labelled as Kafirs (non Muslims that considered impure in Islam). According to estimates, there are more than 2 million Ahmadiyyas in Pakistan and almost everyone of the Ahmadiyyas experience discrimination in Pakistan.
The persecution of the Ahmadiyya community is legalized and encouraged by the Pakistani government. Pakistan’s penal code explicitly discriminates against religious minorities and specifically discriminates against Ahmadiyyas by prohibiting them from “indirectly or directly posing as a Muslim.” Ahmadiyyas are prohibited from declaring, propagating and expressing their faith publicly. They are not allowed to construct mosques nor can they mention about it. The Pakistani government is trying to destroy the culture and traditions of the Ahmadiyya community by forcing them not to be Muslim. This amounts to gross violation of human rights.
Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law, also known as section 295-C of the Penal Code, prescribes the death penalty for blasphemy. Under this law, the Ahmadiyya belief in the prophethood of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad is considered blasphemous as it defiles the name of Prophet Muhammad. During 2009 at least 50 Ahmadiyyas wer convicted of blasphemy because they insulted Prophet Muhammad and many of them remain imprisoned even today.
The Pakistani regime rarely brings charges against perpetrators of anti-Ahmadiyya violence, discrimination and persecution. According to the Human Rights Watch the Pakistani police has failed to convict or arrest anyone implicated in such activity for many years.
Human Rights Watch says that since 2000, an estimated 400 Ahmadiyyas have been formally charged in criminal cases, including blasphemy. Several have been convicted and face life imprisonment or death sentences pending appeal. “The offenses charged included wearing an Islamic slogan on a shirt, planning to build an Ahmadiyya mosque in Lahore, and distributing Ahmadiyya literature in a public square. As a result, thousands of Ahmadiyyas have fled Pakistan to seek asylum in countries including Canada and the United States.”
The Pakistani government continues to support and sponsor the legal persecution of Ahmadiyyas. For example, all Pakistani Muslim citizens applying for passports are obliged to sign a statement explicitly stating that they consider the founder of the Ahmadiyya community as an “imposter” and consider Ahmadiyyas to be non-Muslims.
Under the Blasphemy Law, any public act of worship or devotion by an Ahmadiyya can be treated as a criminal offense and they could be killed for abiding by and practicing their faith. The Ahmadiyyas are virtually devoid of freedoms and liberties, in fact it is the brutal Pakistani regime that suppresses the Ahmadiyyas and denies them their rights.