Rabwah [Pakistan], Dec 28 (ANI): The Ahmadiyya community, a section that moved its headquarters to Pakistan from India in 1948, purchased a barren stretch of desert land from the government, developing it on their own, naming it Rabwah.
"Today the city contains about 70,000 Ahmadis. The roads are paved and lined with greenery. An Olympic-size swimming pool, state-of-the-art library, free eye and blood banks and a world-class cardiology hospital have been set up. Much of the community is affluent, and the literary rate is over 85 percent. The city is small enough that people, even those who can afford cars, cycle everywhere," writes Mehreen Zahra-Malik in a New York Times article.
Some Ahmadiyya-specific beliefs have been thought of as opposed to contemporary mainstream Islamic thought since the movement's birth, and some Ahmadis have subsequently faced persecution due to this. Many Muslims consider Ahmadi Muslims as heretics.
"No Ahmadis are employed in government departments or the police, or represented in local government. The small city provides few job opportunities, and Ahmadis from Rabwah are turned away when they look for work in neighboring towns," the article further stated.
Earlier, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) condemned the raid by Pakistan's Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on the publications and audit offices of the Ahmadiyya community in Punjab province.
"USCIRF condemns the brutal raid on the Ahmadiyya offices, the first such raid since Pakistan amended its constitution 42 years ago, declaring that Ahmadis are 'non-Muslims," USCIRF Chair Rev. Thomas J. Reese, S.J. had said.
"These actions flow out of Pakistan's constitution and penal code, both of which impede religious freedom as they prevent Ahmadis from exercising their faith and even calling themselves Muslim. Pakistan's anti-terrorism law should not be applied to the peaceful Ahmadiyya community simply because they are Ahmadis," he added.
Pakistan's Constitution declares Ahmadis to be "non-Muslims."
Its penal code subjects Ahmadis to severe legal restrictions and officially-sanctioned discrimination, making it criminal for Ahmadis 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.
Since 2002, USCIRF has recommended to the U.S. State Department that Pakistan be named a "country of particular concern" under the U.S. International Religious Freedom Act for its "systematic, ongoing and egregious" violations of religious freedom. (ANI)