Dead or alive, members of the religious minority continue to be persecuted.
by Massimo Introvigne
In the night of November 22, graves where members of the Ahmadiyya community are buried were desecrated in Premkot, Hafizabad, Punjab, Pakistan. Unknown thugs wrote “Qadianis” (a derogatory term used to designate the Ahmadis) and “dogs” on the graves, and removed names and symbols.
As the local Ahmadis noted, this private vandalism follows, quite logically, an official one. In February, it was the police that desecrated forty-five graves in the same cemetery, removing symbols it regarded as “Islamic.”
The Ahmadis believe that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908 in Lahore, was “both a follower of the Holy Prophet” (Muhammad) and “a prophet” himself. Islam teaches the “finality of the prophethood,” i.e., that no genuine prophet can appear in human history after Muhammad. Conservative Muslims interpret the Ahmadi doctrine as so serious a heresy that it makes the Ahmadis non-Muslims.
In Pakistan there are laws prohibiting the Ahmadis from declaring themselves Muslims and using Muslim symbols in their places of worship and even in private homes.
Where the influence of radical Sunni fundamentalists is stronger, the surveillance extends to cemeteries, and Ahmadi graves are desecrated if they are believed to include Muslim symbols or references.
As it happened in the Premkot cemetery, the police are often actively involved in such desecrations. Private radicals go one step further, and also paint insults on the graves.