Do I have the right to remain Ahmadi?

Try voicing your opinion and you may end up in jail. Ahmadis have only one right - the right to remain silent.

Faheem Younus March 01, 2012
In 1966, nearly 180 million people in the US received Miranda rights – the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.

Half a century later, a religious community in Pakistan, another country of nearly 180 million people, is facing a rather caustic version of the Miranda rights. They don’t have the right, but a duty, to remain silent.

The religious group is the Ahmadiyya community.

Two recent events frame the issue aptly. First, on January 29, 2012, clerics organized an anti-Ahmadiyya rally in Rawalpindi, attended by 5,000 madrassah students, chanting threatening anti-Ahmadiyya slogans and demanding to take over a 17-year-old Ahmadiyya ‘place of worship’. Then on February 11, 2012, approximately 100 lawyers, from the Lahore Bar Association, rallied to ban Shezan drinks on court premises.

So while the clerics have the right to incite violence against Ahmadis, by publicly calling them ‘worthy of death’ and madrassah students have the right to wall chalk phrases like, ‘hang them all’, schools have the right to expel Ahmadi students and lawyers have the right to ban Shezan - Ahmadis, on the other hand, have the right to remain silent!

Is it not true that the right to remain silent assumes a right to free speech in the first place? Something the Ahmadis have been long deprived of?

Unlike the Miranda rights, this ‘right’ to silence is by definition, self-incriminating. Try to voice your opinion as an Ahmadi and you may land in jail under section 295-B/C of Pakistan’s penal code offers pending a three year imprisonment simply for exercising your right to free speech. Try voicing dissent, and you may end up in a graveyard. Even after death, the mullah menace has the right to white wash Quranic verses like ‘God is gracious, ever merciful’ from an Ahmadi’s tombstones.

Consequently, hundreds and thousands of Pakistani Ahmadis, including myself, have tearfully migrated to other countries, but not without sustaining one final jab; the passport application.  It requires 97% of Pakistan’s Muslim population to complete a declaration stating that not only do they consider all Ahmadis as ‘non-Muslims’ but they also declare the founder of Ahmadiyya Community to be an ‘impostor’. While I have never met a Pakistani Muslim who refused to sign this absurd declaration, Ahmadis do scratch it out. Their passports are thus stamped with the word ‘Ahmadi’ and the plight of their right to remain silent continues.

For decades, the Ahmadi perspective was systematically hushed under the pretense of ‘sensitivity’. But organizations like Amnesty International are now calling it, ‘a real test of the authorities’. And 0nline newspapers and opinion pieces by courageous Pakistanis have started challenging the suffocating status quo.

For the Pakistani government, there is a way to be good again. Rein in the mullah, stop defining who is and who is not Muslim, and subject the medieval anti-Ahmadiyya laws to a modern paper shredder. Give Ahmadis the right to free speech before offering them the right to remain silent.

Finally, the Ahmadiyya diaspora is choosing to expose this oppression by speaking up. The mullahs and their proxy politicians will have to deal with the bitter truth.

Maybe a glass of Shezan could have helped to sweeten the bitterness. But then I guess that’s just too Ahmadi.

 


WRITTEN BY:
Faheem Younus The writer is clinical associate professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA. The author can be followed @Faheem http://twitter.com/#!/FaheemYounus
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

COMMENTS (254)

sana akbar | 9 years ago | Reply I feel that we should have a law, that bans such protests and scripture against any particular community in Pakistan. That is the reason we are dealing with sectarian violence. I hate to see posters which provoke hatred against ahmdis. Why do they are treated that way when they are Pakistanis? Really I wonder sometimes how do they live in a country like ours. How do they feel to see such rallies, writings and social behaviour of people against them. Religion and believes are quite personal to someone, I dont like to be considered a Muslim in Pakistan only if I agree to "Ahmdi community to be a non Muslim". What a criteria of my being Muslim in Pakistan :( .No one is here is God, Judging someones faith is only Gods responsibility. Please try dont grab God`s position
A.N. | 9 years ago | Reply Ahmedis aren't any different from muslims in their physical appearence, social conduct, traditions and to a great degree, their beliefs. How would you suggest they distinguish themselves from muslims ? Wear a badge perhaps ? A different dress code ? A uniform ? Other than Ahmedis, christians, hindus, behais, sikhs etc dont believe in the final Prophet (SAWW). Infact, they dont consider Him (SAWW) to be a prophet at all. So after killing how many human beings would we consider that we have done enough to show our LOVE for Hazrat Muhammad (SAWW) ? If there is nothing good in Ahmedis, why dont they just convert ? I mean to an ordinary muslim, Ahmedis are evil, convining, and oh so very wrong. Why cant they see it for themselves ? They are ordinary human beings like us, they went to same school as us, they work with us, yet, they cant see it. Maybe it's us who are missing something ? As already pointed out, would you consider the same dealings to be just with muslims where they are in minority ? Because by supporting this form of opperession, you are indirectly supporting what the US is doing, i.e. killing innocent people to meet their interest.
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