APPG inquiry into the denial of freedom of religion and human rights violations of Ahmadi Muslims and other religious communities in Pakistan.

The APPG for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is pleased to launch its Parliamentary Inquiry on 23rd April 2018.

Aims & Objectives

The inquiry will aim to examine the impact of blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi legislation on religious communities in Pakistan and the denial of religious freedom focussing on:
• Historical context of on-going persecution against religious communities in Pakistan
• Legal and human rights context in Pakistan;
• The wider context of persecution such as impacts on education and employment opportunities for religious communities in Pakistan;
• Consequential issues with third country refugees; and
• The overspill effects, in the UK, of hate speech and extremism in Pakistan.
The inquiry will develop a series of recommendations to ensure Pakistan upholds its commitments to human rights laws and to strengthen counter-extremism safeguard measures in the UK.

 Background to the Inquiry

A number of religious communities including Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Shias have long been victims of hate speech and persecution in Pakistan. This situation has been exacerbated by the country’s discriminatory laws  that target the Ahmadiyya Muslim community in particular and it has suffered severely from this persecution.

In 1974 under pressure from extremists clerics Pakistan formalised its state-sponsored persecution of Ahmadi Muslims when the Government, under Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto, amended the constitution to declare Ahmadis as ‘not Muslims’ for the purposes of law.  Ten years later, in 1984 General Zia ul Haq issued Ordinance XX that further targeted Ahmadi Muslims by making it a criminal offence, punishable by three years imprisonment (or by death under the Blasphemy Laws), for any Ahmadi who  “directly or indirectly poses himself as Muslim.” This meant that Ahmadis could no longer profess or practice their Islamic faith in any way without facing prosecution.

Consequently, thousands of Ahmadis have been charged under these laws and  have continued to face harassment, intimidation and persecution on a daily basis. Ahmadis are routinely referred to as infidels and apostates with open calls for them to be killed. The persecution is institutionalised with harassment and intimidation rife in education, public services, the judiciary and Ahmadi graves have also been vandalised and bodies exhumed. The laws have inspired extremists to attack and murder Ahmadis with impunity and hundreds have been murdered simply on grounds of faith – with the worst attack in 2010 when 86 Ahmadis were killed in the attack on two mosques in Lahore during Friday prayers.

Pakistan has also seen an increase in violence against Shias, Hindus and Christians. The case of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death by hanging, showcase that abuses and threats to life, inspired by federal laws are still rife.

The discriminatory laws continue to feed an atmosphere of hate and violence against religious communities. The complete absence of checks and balances to prevent such persecution and attacks exacerbates the situation for all religious communities in Pakistan.

The effects of such persecution is not limited to Pakistan alone as anti-Ahmadi hate has also surfaced in the UK as well. The most extreme example of this was the brutal murder in Glasgow of Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah in 2016, who was killed on grounds of faith. There has also been a worrying development of hate preachers coming to the UK and a stream of hate speech on satellite television, the internet and social media and that is promoting intolerance and extremism.

In Pakistan the violent denial of freedom of religion and of human rights continues unabated and its impact their and across the world demands that it be addressed with a much greater sense of urgency and vigour.

Structure of the Inquiry

The inquiry will invite written and oral evidence from a wide range of experts and victims.

Oral Evidence Sessions

In addition to the written evidence received, the APPG will invite experts and victims of persecution to present oral evidence before a panel of Parliamentarians and respond to their questions.

Session One, 23 April 2018 (5.00pm – 7.00pm)
The examination of the historical context of ongoing persecution against religious communities in Pakistan.

Session Two 14 May 2018 (5.00pm – 7.00pm)
Review of the legal and human rights context of persecution in Pakistan.

Session Three, 21 May 2018 (5.00pm – 7.00pm)
Examination of impact of persecution in the wider context such as the effect on issues such as education, public life, democratic rights and employment rights for religious communities in Pakistan.

Session Four,  11 June 2018 (5.00pm – 7.00pm)
Personal accounts of victims of persecution

Session Five, 18 June 2018 (5.00pm – 7.00pm)
The overspill effect of persecution in Pakistan on extremism in the UK.

How to Submit Written Evidence

Written evidence can be submitted to the inquiry with a maximum word limit of 4,000 words.  Where appropriate, evidence submitted should be referenced.
Submissions should be typed and sent by email.

The inquiry prefers submissions to be in MS Word or as a PDF format. These should be sent to:
APPG@ahmadiyya.org.uk

The deadline for receipt of written submissions is 31 May 2018 at 12.00 pm.

Contact

For any queries please email APPG@ahmadiyya.org.uk or contact the APPG Chair Siobhain McDonagh MP at  siobhain.mcdonagh.mp@parliament.uk