A day after 15 persons were booked for ransacking an Ahmadiyya worship place in Karachi, two other religious establishments of the vulnerable group have suffered arson attacks in different districts of Sindh.
As per the details, unidentified individuals vandalised two places of worship of the Ahmadiyya community in Umarkot’s Noor Nagar Town and Chaudhry Javed Ahmad village of Mirpurkhas.
“Unidentified persons have attacked an Ahmadi worship place in Chaudhry Javed Ahmad village of Mirpurkhas district, tearing down its minarets and setting the place on fire,” tweeted Amir Mahmood, a spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya community.
In a subsequent tweet, he said that a place of worship of the community was also set ablaze in Umerkot by a group of unidentified individuals who broke into its premises and doused the establishment with petrol.
Speaking to Kross Konnection, Mahmood said that the incidents were another proof of the wave of religious extremism gripping the country.
“This is a result of inaction against extremist elements that have repeatedly targeted vulnerable religious groups, including the Ahmadiyya community, with little or no consequences whatsoever,” he said.
Such incidents, Mahmood added, would continue to defame Pakistan owing to its treatment of vulnerable religious groups on the global stage until the state took responsibility and worked towards curbing religious intolerance.
Activists, journalists and people from all walks of life also condemned the incident on social media as they highlighted that the “trend of desecrating Ahmadi worship places had flown from Punjab to Sindh”.
The attacks in Umarkot and Mirpurkhas come a day after 15 persons were booked for desecrating an Ahmadi place of worship in the Saddar area of Karachi.
A viral video of the attack showed some 10-15 masked men attacking and damaging the minarets of the worship place.
While an FIR [First Information Report] of the attack was registered shortly after, the incident had come just weeks after another place of worship of the community was on January 18 attacked in the Martin Quarters area of the port city.
AHMADIS IN PAKISTAN
Pakistan is home to a significant population of Ahmadis, however, the group continues to face persecution and discrimination in the country for many years.
In 1974, the Pakistani government declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, effectively stripping them of their religious rights and freedoms. This designation has had far-reaching consequences for the community in Pakistan, including restrictions on their ability to worship freely and a general atmosphere of mistrust and hatred towards the group.
The persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan has only escalated in recent years with reports of mob violence, arson attacks on their places of worship, and targeted killings.
In 2020, a mob attacked an Ahmadi mosque in the city of Jhelum, resulting in the death of five worshippers and injuring many more. This incident was just one in a string of similar attacks against Ahmadis continuing till date, resulting in the deaths of at least 22 people since 2017.
International organisations and rights groups have long been calling for an end to the persecution of the community in Pakistan, and for the government to take steps to protect their rights and ensure their safety.