The Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development (CREID), led by IDS, has expressed grave concern over a dangerous anti-Ahmadi campaign, currently trending on Twitter in Pakistan. There is a real danger that the online hate, which State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan has contributed to with tweets of his own, could spill over into offline violence against members of the Ahmadiyya religious minority community.
CREID urges the government of Pakistan to take urgent action and strongly condemn this campaign, which is taking hold in other social media networks such as Facebook. CREID also urges all social media companies operating in Pakistan to ensure that all hate and dangerous speech is removed from their platforms.
CREID Director, Professor Mariz Tadros said, “From countries around the world, we know there is a link between the generation of online hate speech and the incitement and mobilisation of violence on the ground. At a time when so many people around the world are feeling especially vulnerable on account of the Covid-19 in particular those marginalised on account of their faith or no faith, it is especially important that officials promote solidarity, cohesion, and a sense of our common humanity, not incite hatred or religious otherisation”
Pakistan’ State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr. Ali Muhammad Khan, posted a tweet on 29th April 2020 which included the phrase “the only punishment for blasphemers is beheading”. We believe that it is clear from the context of the tweet that it links to a discussion about Ahmadis being included in the Minority Commission. Additionally, tweets issued before and subsequently by the Minister has him referring to the Ahmadiyya community as “blasphemers”, for example, with this tweet.
CREID partner and MRG Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, said “We are highly concerned regarding the safety of the Ahmadi community. Such a dangerous statement coming from a State Minister inherently risks enhancing the sense of legitimacy among the religious hardliners that the government will support an act of killing someone in the name of religion or they can easily get away with the murder or violent attack against any Ahmadi”.
Mr Khan’s tweet received 26.2K Likes within 24 hours of being shared and had been retweeted 3.8K times, moreover, the comments on this tweet further generate hatred against the Ahmadi community, and several tweets commented to the Minister concerning his lack of comment or action when the government released Asia Bibi that may also indirectly trigger violence against the Christian community in Pakistan.
The Ahmadi (or Ahmadiyya) community is already very vulnerable in Pakistan due to their religious beliefs and has been facing extreme persecution for many years, as was debated in the UK Parliament two years ago. CREID’s work on the intersection of religious, economic and gender marginality also includes members of the Ahmadiyya community.