Radio 101: Student Explores Discrimination Within Islam

Radio 101: Student Explores Discrimination Within Islam

5:05pm Aug 28, 2015
Ameen Faizi
Lopa Shah

Radio 101 is WFDD's education program for high school students. Radio 101 reporter, Ameen Faizi, tells his story.

Ameen Faizi is a member of a small sect of Islam called Ahmadiyyat. Ameen's father and Imam, Nadeem Faizi, says that Ahmadis differ from other Muslims in one way: They believe the second coming has already happened.

Ameen's grandfather fled Pakistan because of the persecution of Ahmadis there. Ahmadis​ are persecuted in Pakistan for their interpretation of Islam.

Saroop Ijaz, a Pakistani lawyer who works for Human Rights Watch, decries the institutional discrimination of Ahmadis in that country. According to Ijaz, Pakistan's constitution declares that Ahmadis are not Muslims, even though they believe they are.  

"The Pakistani state is imposing one interpretation of Islam on the state and the nation," says Ijaz.

He adds that it is illegal for Ahmadis​ in Pakistan to "pretend to be Muslims". Ahmadis​ cannot call their places of worship mosques. They cannot even use the common Muslim greeting, "Assalmu Alaikum".

"It would be like disallowing certain Christians to call their places of worship churches or to say 'God bless you'".

Ijaz alleges that the sentiment of mainstream Pakistani Muslims reflects that of the government. In 2010, armed men attacked two Ahmadi places of worship in Lahore, Pakistan. They killed almost 100 people. Ijzaz says Ahmadis face a "combination of legal and social persecution." He adds that Pakistan cannot claim any progress on the human rights front until it desists in persecuting Ahmadis.

Ameen fears discrimination from both within and outside the Muslim community. Other Muslims consider him an infidel, while non-Muslims regard him as a terrorist. Ameen's father disagrees with this characterization, explaining that Ahmadis believe they should fight with the pen, not with swords or guns.

Ameen hopes that the larger Muslim community will denounce the persecution of Ahmadis​ but knows this will only happen if international attention is brought to the issue.