by Massimo Introvigne — Nobody knows how many Ahmadis there are in Pakistan, since many try to hide their religious affiliation for fear of the persecutions described in the previous articles of the series. However, they are in the millions, possibly four millions or five. Enough to be an interesting electoral constituency, and to assert their rights through the ballot box. There is only one problem about this. They cannot vote. From 1947 to 1985, Pakistanis had the right to vote in all elections based on the simple fact of being citizens of Pakistan, irrespective of their religion. In 1985, however, a year after the infamous Ordinance XX of 1984, which we discussed in the previous articles as a statute institutionalizing the persecution of the Ahmadis, the military dictator General Zia ul-Haq decided that, if and when elections will be held, citizens will be divided in two separate electoral lists. Muslims will elect 95% of the members of the National Assembly. Non-Muslims will vote to elect the remaining 5% of the members of the National Assembly, representing religious minorities.
by Massimo Introvigne — As we have seen in the previous articles, the military regime of General Zia created with blasphemy laws and Ordinance XX the most effective legal tools to persecute the Ahmadis. When at the end of 1988, Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister, Ahmadis initially believed in her promises of respect for minorities, although they also remembered that her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, before being deposed and executed by Zia, had also enacted anti-Ahmadi legislation. Their hopes were quickly disappointed. Benazir Bhutto did not touch Ordinance XX, and answered international criticism by arguing that several cases were pending before Pakistan’s Supreme Court, and whether the anti-Ahmadi ordinance was compatible with the Constitution was a matter to be solved by the judiciary.
by Massimo Introvigne — As we have seen in the previous articles, after the bloody Lahore riots in 1953, the Ahmadis went in Pakistan through a period in which, while they were still harassed and discriminated, they were somewhat protected from major violence. Things changed with the rise to power of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Educated in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, this wealthy lawyer served as a minister in most of the military-controlled governments that ruled Pakistan since the coup of 1958. In 1967, having been excluded from the government of Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan, Bhutto founded a “socialist Islamic” political party called Pakistan People’s Party, whose motto was “Islam is our faith, democracy is our policy, socialism is our economy.” After the ruinous secession of Bangladesh of 1971, and Pakistan’s defeat in the war with India, the military called Bhutto, whose party enjoyed widespread national support, as the nation’s only hope to avoid further bloodshed. He served as President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973, and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977.
by Massimo Introvigne — Because of the theological peculiarities discussed in the first article of the series, the Ahmadis were regarded as heretics by the other Muslims and persecuted since their foundation. Their bloodiest persecution was, however, a consequence of the foundation of Pakistan as a state for the Muslims of former British India. The persecution of religious minorities should not have happened, and was not part of the original project of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of modern Pakistan. When he was elected President of the Constituent Assembly in 1947, Jinnah promised to the citizens of Pakistan: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state….
by Massimo Introvigne — One of the oldest and bloodiest persecutions of a religious minority in the world today is targeting the Ahmadis in Pakistan. In this series, we will examine where this persecution comes from and who fuels it. First, we will have a look at who the Ahmadis exactly are.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) was born and lived for most of his life in Qadian, Punjab (for which his followers are sometimes called Qadianis). In the years 1880-1884 he wrote the four volumes of the work Barahin-i-Ahmadiyya, intended to show the superiority of Islam on other faiths, and particularly on Christianity, welcomed by many Islamic circles. In 1889, he announced to have received a divine revelation, around which a community of followers gathered.
Local Police disguised as civilians desecrate another Ahmadiyya mosque in Faisalabad, Pakistan as part of continued state-sponsored persecution of Ahmadis
By CAPLC — A few months ago, we reported about the demolition of the minarets and domes of the various Ahmadiyya mosques in Pakistan carried out under the supervision of local police authorities. Unfortunately, we again regret to report another destruction and demolition in a rural settlement called 261 R-B, Adhwali district Faisalabad, Pakistan. This profane act was orchestrated by the local police itself disguising themselves as civilians.
They said that the installation in Austria, in the cities of Vienna, Leopoldstadt and in Meidling, of some signs with the words: Achtung! Politischer Islam in deiner Naehe (Beware political Islam is near you) was just an innocent provocation. In fact, those signs indicating the presence of an Islamic site nearby was only the logical consequence of the presentation by the Minister for Integration, Susanne Raab (OeVP) of the so-called Map of the Places of Islam (Islamland karte), i.e. of mosques and Islamic cultural centres, present throughout Austria.
by Massimo Introvigne — An introductory paper at the Special Meeting of the Freedom of Religion or Belief Roundtable Belgium “The New Flemish Legislation on Religion: A Cause of Concern,” June 2, 2021.
The new Flemish legislation on religion and the statements by politicians surrounding its introduction are yet another example of what is emerging as a fascinating, if paradoxical, social and political phenomenon: the discrimination of some non-Muslim religions under the pretext of combating terrorism based on ultra-fundamentalist Islam.
by Massimo Introvigne — New religious movements significantly contributed, disproportionately with respect to the number of their members, to the birth and progress of modernist art. Among many artists who were Spiritualists, Theosophists, Rosicrucians, or followers of other spiritual movements—the list includes such luminaries as Piet Mondrian and Giacomo Balla, who were members of different branches of Theosophy—the Swedish painter Ivan Aguéli is a special case. He remained little known outside specialized circles for decades after his death in 1917, but has then been honored in Sweden by a museum in Sala, the town where he was born in 1869, and even stamps by the Swedish Postal Service.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — Cuban media consistently denounce Islamophobia in the United States and Europe, and claim that Islam is welcome in the island. Indeed, there have been some improvements in recent years, that observers connect with Cuba’s international relations with countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which advocate for the rights of local Muslims. Students from Muslim countries were never harassed for quietly practicing their religion, but the situation was different for Cuban converts. In 2015, a scholar reported that Cuba was home to 10,000 Muslims, of which 3,000 were native Cubans who had found in Islam an alternative to the Marxist atheistic education they had received.
As members of Iraqi civil society and international NGOs, we welcome the apostolic visit by His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq in March 2021. At this critical moment in the country’s history, the visit represents an important opportunity to promote peace and tolerance by bringing together ethno-religious communities and inspiring collective action to prevent further atrocities of the kind that has caused so much suffering for generations.
by Abdulhakim Idris — In the international community, traces of the trauma of World War II remain. Especially in Germany, the Nazi administration continues to be held accountable. While this great pain persists, the world is experiencing the reality of genocide once again. New evidence and new documents emerge every day regarding the genocide carried out by the Chinese Communist regime against Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other populations in East Turkestan. Despite this undeniable situation, the sight of the German-led European Union sitting at the table with China shows that the West has forgotten the words “never again” in the wake of the Holocaust.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — Those sentenced to death may be assisted in their last moments by a Christian chaplain only, even if they belong to another religion. Muslims protest. Last week, Imam Yusef Maisonet sued five members of the State of Alabama’s Department of Correction, including a Christian chaplain, over a policy that excludes Muslim religious figures from being present in the execution chamber when Islamic prisoners are executed.
by Alessandro Amicarelli — A disproportionate number of cases involving forced adoption at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) come from Norway. Norwegian social services are quick to deprive parents of their rights, accusing them of neglect, and to place children in foster care, which then leads to adoption. Often, this happens to children of poor immigrant single parents, who end up being adopted by well-off Norwegians.
On December 10, 2020, we announced an appeal signed by 14 NGOs, including FOB, to the authorities of China, Iran and Russia to release the religious prisoners, at risk of being infected with COVID-19. This appeal was based on HRWF's annual report: “In Prison for Their Faith 2020”. Today we are publishing a brief summary of the HRWF report.
The recent articles published on this site show a never dormant and ill-concealed intolerant regurgitation towards the beliefs of others. Freedom of belief is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by subsequent similar declarations, but in the light of the facts this right requires constant and further commitment, so that it is effectively recognized and respected as an inalienable right. Below we publish an article by professor Massimo Introvigne, internationally renowned sociologist of religions, who gives an example of how easy it is to fall into intolerance and incitement to hatred.
By Massimo Introvigne — Anti-cultism is back in France. Media around the world have covered President Macron’s announcement of a new law against “separatism,” explaining it as a measure against radical Islam. It is surely true that Islam is targeted but, not for the first time, a law introduced to fight Islamic radical groups is then used against other religious movements. The Russian law against extremism is an obvious example.
by Vasco Fronzoni — The Italian Muslim communities have faced the challenge of contagion with a pragmatic spirit. As it known, Islam does not recognize universal leaders, and therefore chooses on the basis of the general reference principles, which in the case of epidemics refer to a hadith that prescribes «if you hear of a plague in a land do not enter it; and if it breaks out in the land where you stay, do not leave»
Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expressed its concern over reports that religious minority groups from around the world have faced discrimination because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious communities have been harassed and accused of bringing COVID-19 to their countries.