The persecution of Ahmedis is deep-rooted and dates back to pre-Partition India. Even so, the massacre in Lahore on May 28 was one of the worst in the history of the Ahmedi Movement since 1953. Here is a timeline of important events that took place since the beginning of the Ahmedi Movement:
March 1889: The Ahmedi Movement, founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, began in northern India in the city of Qadian, and spread across northern India (including present-day Pakistan’s Punjab province).
1890: In Delhi, religious scholars sign a fatwa against Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his beliefs.
May 1908: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmedi Movement, passes away.
October 1947: Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, an Ahmedi who was influential during the separation, became Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister. Khan went later onto become the first Asian judge to sit on the International Court of Justice at the Hague.
March 1953: Post-Partition, the backlash against Ahmedis became violent in Pakistan. Riots broke out in Lahore after the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, criticised the Ahmedi movement. As a result, an estimated 300 people died and a disputed number were injured, and martial law was imposed in Lahore for 70 days to stabilise civil unrest.
1954: The Munir Report – a historic state-run investigation stirred by the riots – concluded that if the state left the decision of who is or isn’t a Muslim than according to the ulemas and fatwas, every citizen would be declared a non-Muslim.
1962: Religio-political groups gained ground when the ulema and Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology added a clause in the constitution, which stated that no future and existing laws should contradict the teaching and requirements of the Quran and Sunnah.
1974: In a response to the backlash from religious groups and pressure for votes, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s regime amended the constitution to include the definition of a Muslim and listed groups that were consider non-Muslim, explicitly listing the followers of the Ahmedi Movement as non-Muslims.
1979: Dr. Mohammad Abdus Salam, an Ahmedi and a Pakistani citizen, won the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on the Electroweak Theory. Dr. Salam became instrumental for Pakistan’s nuclear plants as well as outer space projects. After Dr. Salam passed away his tombstone which had “Muslim” carved in it was scratched out by officials.
April 1984: The constitution was amended yet again when President Zia-ul-Haq included the full Sharia Law. Ordinance XX included restrictions on religious minority groups. Ahmedis were restricted to: the misuse of epithets, descriptions, titles, etc reserved for certain holy personages or places of Islamic origins. Ahmedis could not call themselves Muslim or propagate their faith – these practices were punishable by death, life imprisonment, and a fine. The public was also refrained from referring to Ahmedis as part of a ‘Muslim sect’ or their places or worship as ‘mosques.’ If a person was found guilty, they could serve up to three years in prison and pay a fine.
1993: Ahmedis who were charged with blasphemy appealed the law eight times but the court maintained that Sharia Law was to be upheld, and even likened them to notorious writer Salman Rushdie.
April 1995: In the town of Shab Qadar in Peshawar, two members of the Ahmedi community were stoned – one of whom died, the body was stripped and dragged through the town, while the second was critically injured – all while the police watched the debacle with the rest of the town.
October 2000: Gunmen opened fire during prayers; five worshippers were killed as several others were injured.
October 2005: Eight people were killed and 18 injured when three men on motorbikes opened fire on them as they were offering prayers. Two of the attackers entered the place where prayers were being offered and sprayed the 26 worshippers with bullets.
June 2005: All Ahmedi students expelled from a medical college in Faisalabad. Dr. Asghar Ali Randhawa, Principal of Punjab Medical College rusticated all Ahmedi students, 15 female and eight males, from the college as well as hostels.
September 2008: “Aalim Online,” a show hosted by Aamir Liaqat Hussain on GEO TV, incited religious hatred and violence against Ahmedis along with two guest panelists, Maulana Mohammad Ameen and Dr Saeed Inayatulla, who referred to members of the Ahmadiyya community as kafir (infidel) and maintained that anyone who holds beliefs as Ahmadi Muslims is wajib-ul-qatl (deserving of death). As a result, religious zealots murdered two eminent leading members of the Ahmedi community.
May 2010: Militants attacked two Ahmedi places of worship during the Friday prayer service. According to government officials the death toll was 80, while the Jamaat-i-Ahmadiya Pakistan spokesman put the toll at 95. More than a 100 parishioners were injured.
Sadef A. Kully is an Reporter/Associate Producer for Dawn.com.
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