But my wife Angela brought to my attention another kind of religious persecution at the hands of Muslims — this time from Pakistan. According to a report from the UK Independent, ” a woman, a child and a baby have died in Pakistan during riots over an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post. Their home was one of several set on fire in the city of Gujranwala on Sunday and another woman miscarried during the violence.”
“The woman, her seven-year-old granddaughter and her baby sister died of suffocation, according to police officials. The victims were members of the Ahmadi religious sect, who identify with Islam but are widely regarded as heretics in Pakistan and face persecution. Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet after Mohammed, the self-proclaimed Ghulam Ahmad, who was born in 1835. He is not defined as a “law-giving” prophet but claimed to propagate the laws enunciated by Mohammed.”
“The sect is defined as non-Muslim in Pakistan and a law in 1984 made it illegal for Ahmadis for identify as Muslims or “pose as Muslims.” They are banned from using Muslim greetings, saying Muslim prayers or referring to their places of worship as a mosque. Salim ud Din, a spokesman for the Ahmadi community, said it was the worst attack on the community since simultaneous attacks on Ahmadi places of worship killed 86 Ahmadis four years ago in Lahore.”
If there is any way I can make a comparison in America, it would be like Christians attacking and making laws against Seventh-Day Adventists or the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church).
The Independent reports “the episode began based upon rumors spreading that a young Ahmadi man, identified as Saqib, shared a blasphemous picture on Facebook, Pakistan Today reported. It allegedly included the Kaaba — the cuboid building at the centre of the Grand Mosque in Mecca that Muslims face in prayer – and contained nudity. A mob reportedly gathered outside Saqib’s house and started protesting. When they moved to a doctor’s house where Ahmadis were thought to be hiding, someone inside reportedly shot at the mob and injured the man who had started the Facebook rumor. The group then set five Ahmadi houses on fire, killing the woman and children and injuring several others.”
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws carry a potential death sentence for anyone accused of insulting Islam, although they also cover all religions and places of worship. However, in this case it seems Muslim mob violence carries the day and isn’t interrupted by the local police. Mr. Salim ud Din stated, “Police were there but just watching the burning. They didn’t do anything to stop the mob. First they looted their homes and shops and then they burnt the homes.”
Accusations of blasphemy are rocketing in Pakistan, from one in 2011 to at least 68 last year, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. About 100 people have been accused of blasphemy so far this year. I think America went through this stage long ago during the Salem witch trials, and I’m quite sure now, as then, many of the accusations had everything to do with vendettas and little to do with faith.
We may be in the 21st Century but many still live back in the 7th Century. At least we have the 21st Century technology to bring awareness of these egregious actions worldwide. The question is whether or not the civilized world will do anything about it.