Islamabad: Controversial Pakistani extremist cleric Khadim Rizvi lashed out at the students of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) for meeting with the members of the Ahmadiyya community, saying those who wanted to express solidarity with them can leave the country and instead live in India or Israel.
Earlier this month, the students had met the Ahmadis in Rabwah, as part of a project to promote peace, tolerance and acceptance of minorities in Pakistan.
Reacting to the visit, Rizvi said, “Principal of a Lahore college took students to the centre for ‘Qadiyanis’, saying they want to promote brotherhood with the minorities. The government is not taking cognisance of this. I don’t understand which direction they want to take Pakistan to. You are taking students to those people who are blasphemous to our Prophet. What do you want to tell and show to the world?”
He added, “You (the principal) better realise what your condition will be. Behave like humans! We have told you several times that non-believer gets to a non-believer, a Jew to Jews and Christians gravitate towards Christians. Those who feel for these people can go to India or Israel,” he added.
Rabwah is one of the few places in Pakistan which has the highest concentration of Ahmadis in the country.
The Ahmadiyya or the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is an Islamic religious movement founded in Punjab, in then British India, near the end of the 19th century. However, Pakistan’s Constitution has declared the community as “non-Muslims.”
Its penal code subjects Ahmadis to severe legal restrictions and officially-sanctioned discrimination, making it criminal for the people of the community to call themselves Muslims, preach, propagate or disseminate materials on their faith, or refer to their houses of worship as mosques. The Pakistan government applies the anti-terrorism law as an unwarranted pretext to arrest members of the Ahmadiyya community.
Ahmadis also continue to be murdered in religiously-motivated attacks that take place with impunity. Punjab province, the site of the raid and home to the greatest number of religious minorities, has a deeply troubling religious freedom record.