With the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the Modi Government had laid a path to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted migrants i.e. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December 2014.
Has the Modi Government ignored the Ahmadiyya sect which is by far the most oppressed minority group in Pakistan and not even considered Muslims by the constitution of the country?
The Ahmadiyya sect has been subjected to extreme forms of religious oppression and discrimination since the movement’s inception in 1889. The Ahmadiyya Muslim movement arose from the Sunni tradition of Islam and its followers believe in all the five pillars and articles of faith required of Muslims.
Ahmadis are considered non-Muslims by many mainstream Muslims since they consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the movement, to be the promised Mahdi and Messiah awaited by the Muslims.
The Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan and Ordinance XX declare Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and further deprive them of religious rights. Hundreds of Ahmadis were killed in the 1953 Lahore riots and the 1974 Anti-Ahmadiyya riots.
The May 2010 Attacks on Ahmadi mosques, infamously known as the Lahore Massacre, resulted in the murder of 84 Ahmadis by suicide attack. The 1974 riots resulted in the largest number of killings of Ahmadis.
In a number of countries, Ahmadis have faced strong resistance. In many Muslim-majority nations, Ahmadis have been considered apostates and non-Muslim and subjected to persecution and systematic, sometimes state-sanctioned, oppression.
Approximately 2–5 million Ahmadis live in Pakistan, which has the largest population of Ahmadis in the world. It is the only state to have officially declared the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims as they do not consider Muhammad to be the final prophet; and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments.
In 1974, Pakistan’s parliament adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims; the country’s constitution was amended to define a Muslim “as a person who believes in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad”.
The treatment of religious minorities continues to be authorised by the Government of Pakistan. It is evidently deficient to protect these minority groups adequately or at all, especially from targeted, systematic and foreseeable (and preventable) violence. As the USCIRF reports, the laws not only curb the rights of non-Muslims but also Shi’a Muslims and Ahmadis.
In 2014, a case involving four Ahmadi men were imprisoned for allegedly removing posters mentioning anti-Ahmadi slogans and prosecuted on blasphemy charges. In 2017, three of them were sentenced to death and the fourth man died in police custody.
Ahmadis in Pakistan are also barred by law from worshipping in non-Ahmadi mosques or public prayer rooms, performing the Muslim call to prayer, using the traditional Islamic greeting in public, publicly quoting from the Quran, preaching in public, seeking converts, or producing, publishing, and disseminating their religious materials.
These acts are considered illegal by imprisonment of up to three years. In applying for a passport or a national ID card, all Pakistanis are required to sign an oath declaring Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to be an impostor prophet and all Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. The word “Muslim” was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist Abdus Salam, because he was an Ahmadi.
For the five million Ahmadis, religious persecution has been particularly severe and systematic in Pakistan, which is the only state to have officially declared that Ahmadis are non-Muslims. Pakistani laws prohibit the Ahmadis from identifying themselves as Muslims, and their freedom of religion has been curtailed by a series of ordinances, acts and constitutional amendments.