Muslims demonstrate against Ahmadis in Rawalpindi
Ahmadis in Rawalpindi yesterday voiced growing fears over their safety and right to worship after receiving what they say are grave threats to their community.
“Some people have started a false and baseless hate campaign against us. They have threatened to demolish our places of worship and attack us at Friday prayers,” said Saleem-ud-din, an Ahmadi spokesperson.
“There are known security threats to community members from these people, yet we are not even allowed to defend or protect ourselves,” he said.
Their unease was made worse on January 29 when around 5,000 people, including Muslim seminarians, staged an anti-Ahmadi rally near the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi.
They demanded Ahmadis stop proselytizing and worshiping, and called for the destruction of the “illegal” Ewan e Tawheed, a nearby place of worship.
The local community however maintains that they own the property, which has been used as a prayer venue for the past 17 years.
“This open campaign against the center is a plan to deprive the community’s peaceful members of their right to congregate. We can compromise on the right of self-defense but never compromise on our right to pray in front of Allah,” Saleem-ud-din said.
“What worries the community is that the rally had support from mainstream political parties. Their banners and their supporters are visible across the city, instigating hatred,” he added.
He said political parties should rise above prejudices and try to stop spreading hatred.
“We have been left in hot water by the state and the masses alike,” Saleem-ud-din said.
Ahmadis say they have been subjected to “systemic genocide” since Pakistan’s National Assembly declared them non-Muslims in 1974.
The excommunicated community neither casts votes nor can it bury their dead in common graveyards.
In May 2010, at least 86 Ahmadis were killed in one day during attacks in Lahore.
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