On Sunday, Pakistani police forced an Ahmadi family to exhume the body of a relative [identified as Shehzad Warriach] because it was buried in a Muslim graveyard. According to the BBC, “Officials in the Sargodha district of Punjab province say they took the unusual move after anti-Ahmadi Muslim groups threatened peace in the area.” Ghulam Murtaza, a senior police official, told the AFP, “Warraich’s family agreed to exhume the body on October 31 after local people approached us amid protests and demanded that the body be removed from the Muslim graveyard.” The “local people” noted BBC News, were reportedly members of Khatm-e-Nabuwat, “an anti-Ahmadi religious organization that acts as a watchdog on their activities.”
The police, he added, “had to intervene to prevent any untoward situation though we have no law barring burial of a non-Muslim in a shared graveyard.”
So, instead of protecting the interests of a grieving family who had not broken any law, the police catered to the whims of intolerant protesters? I have no words.
However, Aatekah Mir-Khan over at the Express Tribune Blog, does:
Religion is supposed to be something between you and God, even when you are alive. Thus, people who do not give the living that freedom are wrong, but to continue hounding a person based on their religion even when he is dead is detestable. But have we heard a single condemnation from any of the politicians or the religious leaders on the outrage? No. Why? Because commenting on anything that has to do with religion (if it is against what ‘they’ believe) is shunned like playing with fire. There is no way you can leave unscathed if you dare speak up.
Back in May, more than 70 people were killed and 108 were injured when gunmen launched simultaneous attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore. Although political leaders condemned the attacks, they stopped short of tackling the glaring inconsistencies and laws that led to such incidents in the first place. In fact, when Nawaz Sharif expressed solidarity with the Ahmadiyya community after the May attacks, calling them “brothers” of Muslims, he was immediately criticized by leaders of Deobandi madrassas, who advised him not to “defy religion for petty political gains.” According to the Express Tribune, leaders of the Muttahida Tehrik-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat even claimed the Lahore attacks “were a conspiracy to repeal laws against Ahmadis” at a meeting that included 13 political and religious organizations like JUI-F and Jamat-ud-Dawa.
It is not surprising that conservative religious clerics and figures spew intolerance and prejudice, peddling the idea that Islam is under attack to further their own power agenda. But it is frankly despicable that we continue to cower to those voices. It happened in 1973, when the Ahmadis were declared “non-Muslims” by the state, and it happened again in 1984, when they were legally barred from proselytizing or identifying themselves as Muslims. It continues to occur every time members of this community [and other minorities] are persecuted without any consequences, without so much as a word from our leaders or fellow citizens. And it happened this past Sunday, when the police ultimately gave credence to intolerance and prejudice over reason and sensitivity, forcing an Ahmadi family to exhume a relative’s body from a graveyard.
We talk constantly about how Islam has been hijacked by radicals and extremists. But cases like these show how much we also allow ourselves to be hijacked. By virtue of doing nothing, we legitimize those voices. We are therefore also to blame.