KARACHI: With the country torn apart by religious extremism and intolerance, the metropolitan city is also witnessing a rise in hate crimes against minorities. In the latest incident, a 23-year-old Ahmadi shopkeeper, Muhammad Ahmad, was gunned down in Gulistan-e-Jauhar late Saturday night.
Within a span of 10 days, at least three Ahmadis have reportedly been shot dead in the city. The youngster was the sixth Ahmadiyya community member to be gunned down in the metropolis this year allegedly because of his faith.
Ahmad and his 45-year-old brother-in-law Shams Fakhri were returning home after closing their general store when two armed attackers sprayed them with bullets. While Ahmad died on the spot, Fakhri was hit by five bullets. He is battling for his life at a private hospital.
The family was frequently called “Kafir” (non-Muslim) by people in the neighbourhood, according to Ahmad’s elder brother Umair. But he had never thought that his youngest brother may be killed one day. “There is no doubt that my brother was killed because of his faith,” Umair told The Express Tribune. “We had no personal enmity with anyone.”
“I was locking the gate of the store from one side after Ahmad had shut the store from the other side. Minutes later, I heard gunshots and people informed me that Ahmad had been shot,” he said. Although the police were standing nearby when his brother was attacked, they did not do anything, Umair said. “Instead of saving my brother, they ran away.”
All seven brothers, including Ahmad, ran the general store located just a few blocks away from their house in Gulistan-e-Jauhar.
For a while now, clerics at a certain mosque in the area have been delivering hateful sermons against the Ahmadi community, Umair alleged.
The first such incident this month took place on September 7 when a 36-year-old government school teacher, Abdul Ghaffar, was gunned down in Chakiwara, Lyari while on his way home. On September 12, an Ahmadi police constable, Muhammad Nawaz, was targeted in Orangi Town.
The police have failed to arrest any criminal involved in such attacks, said Masood Ahmad, a senior Ahmadiyya community member. “In Orangi Town, our houses are being pelted with rocks. In Gulistan-e-Jauher, anti-Ahmadi pamphlets are being distributed and in Baldia Town, roadside graffiti calling us non-Muslims has come up.”
The recent killings have sowed fear among the Ahmadis in Karachi, who have restricted their movements or take different routes when going out. “The criminals want to hurt the community financially,” said Masood Ahmad. Condemning the incident, the spokesperson for the Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan, Saleemuddin, urged the law enforcement agencies to investigate the attack.
“The community has as much the right to live in this country as the other communities,” he said. “Ahmad was killed at an age when he should have been serving the country.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.