Parliamentary debate on disturbing denial of freedom of religion in Pakistan
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK welcomes the debate to be led by the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Siobhain McDonagh MP. The Backbench debate will be held on 24 May in the House of Commons on the Persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The debate takes place, as Ahmadi Muslims have long been victims of persecution in Pakistan due to its discriminatory laws. The laws have stifled freedom of religion, promoted state-sponsored persecution and acted as a catalyst for violent extremism in Pakistan. As a result, Ahmadis are denied fundamental human rights to practice their faith and engage in society without fear of harassment, discrimination or violence. The number of Ahmadis murdered on grounds of faith has increased to 260 amidst the country’s hostile environment. The community has recently also faced a publication ban on its literature in Pakistan, and has three individuals on death row for alleged blasphemy charges.
The debate also aims to highlight how anti-Ahmadi hate has also surfaced in the UK. 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 the rise in hate speech on satellite television, the internet and social media that is feeding intolerance and extremism.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is simultaneously running an inquiry which is examining the plight of Ahmadi Muslims as well as other religious communities in Pakistan who suffer at the hand of draconian federal laws. The inquiry will develop a series of recommendations to ensure Pakistan upholds its commitments to human rights laws and treaties and will call for a strengthening of counter-extremism safeguard measures in the UK.
The National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Rafiq Hayat, welcomed the debate, saying it was critical and needed in the current climate of extremism. He added:
“The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has faced persecution for decades in Pakistan. This is now affecting other communities in Pakistan and its impact is now spilling over into the UK. The harsh reality is that Ahmadi Muslims and others in Pakistan now live under a state of constant threat from violence and intimidation and this must not be allowed to continue. We want Pakistan to thrive and it can only do so when the human rights of all its citizens are respected and upheld.”