In Kashmir, extremists target Ahmadis, injuring worshippers, tearing down minarets
Posted on February 17th, 2024

by Shafique Khokhar Courtesy PIME Asian News

A mob attacked an Ahmadi place of worship in Kotli district, sending the caretaker to hospital with serious injuries. Previously, they had given the authorities an ultimatum to demolish the Ahmadi mosque. Despite CCTV footage, police have yet to make any arrests. We want justice,” Ahmadi leader told AsiaNews.

Azad Jammu Kashmir (AsiaNews) – Pakistan’s Ahmadi community has once again been targeted by extremist groups.

The latest attack took place on Monday in Bhabra, Kotli district (Azad Jammu and Kashmir), involving an Ahmadi place of worship.

During the attack, which included beatings and the use of firearms, several Ahmadis suffered injuries, with about eight men and five women seriously wounded. The attackers ransacked the Ahmadi mosque and tore down its minarets (pictured).

Despite being alerted by the victims, police were slow in reaching the scene of the incident, and by the time they arrived, the attackers, a group of 60 to 65 people, had fled the scene.  

During the attack, CCTV cameras were smashed and the mosque vandalised as the mob stormed the building, the preliminary investigation shows.

Upon entering the building, the attackers beat the caretaker, Wajid Hussain, with iron rods and hammers. He is currently in hospital in critical condition.

When other members of the community rushed to the victim’s aid, they too were violently beaten and abused by the attackers, who also stoned local houses injuring some residents, later taken to the district hospital in Kotli for medical treatment.

Since November last year, the place of worship has been targeted by extremists while complaints and reports to the police proved useless.

Some radical leaders had given Ahmadis until 16 December to clear the area and take down the minarets, or they would act themselves, which is what they did.

The raid comes at a troubled period for the country, after a general election that ended in an uncertain outcome with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz forming a coalition government with Bilawal Bhutto and his Pakistan Peoples Party.

The new cabinet has not yet been agreed to, but it is already in the crosshairs of adversaries and independents linked to the jailed retired cricket champion and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has a large following in the electorate.

Last year a total 42 incidents of persecution were reported against the Ahmadiyya community and dozens of minarets were demolished; this year two incidents have been reported so far,” said Ahmadi leader Aamir Mehmood speaking to AsiaNews.

While demanding justice and the culprits’ arrest, he does not mince his words about the authorities who are duty-bound to protect citizens” and yet have “failed miserably”. We have videos of this attack and police can easily identify the attackers,” he added.

In Pakistan, the Ahmadi Muslim community numbers between 600,000 and two million (estimates vary), with 10 to 20 million worldwide, living mostly outside their place of origin.

Founded in the late 19th century in British India, the Ahmadi religion is largely considered heretical by mainstream Sunnis and Shias, especially among their extremist fringes. It honours its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and has beliefs related to those of other religions.

In Pakistan, Ahmadis are not allowed to use Islamic greetings and prayers, or to call their places of worship mosques.

Along with Christians, they are one of the communities most victimised by the country’s blasphemy laws, which are used to persecute minorities.

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