Hate campaign against Ahmadis follows US President Trump’s meeting with Ahmadi elder from Pakistan

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Controversy sparked on Pakistan Twitter when a video of an elderly Pakistani man interacting with the US President Donald Trump surfaced on social media. He introduced himself as Abdul Shakoor, an Ahmadi Pakistani citizen who was recently released after serving three years in prison in Pakistan.

The man with the help of his translator (Shaan Taseer, son of slain Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, who was targeted on grounds of blasphemy) had a word with the US president. “I can call myself Muslim elsewhere but not in Pakistan, where we have been declared non-Muslims”, says the visibly nervous 83 year old. “Our houses and shops were looted”, he adds. “I owned a shop in Sargodha and the authorities imprisoned me for more than three years for selling books [related to Ahmadiyya faith]. We are a peaceful community,” asserts Abdul Shakoor “but we are demonized and hated for calling ourselves Muslims.”

The matter immediately ruffled feathers back home. Prominent journalist and anchorperson Sami Ibrahim equated the whole episode to a conspiracy to fail Prime Minister Imran Khan’s then upcoming US visit. He said the finality of prophethood is a matter of life and death and anyone fiddling with our faith in the finality of prophethood would be playing with fire.

Living up to its previous record, Twitter was less polite. A hashtag ‘Qadiani Dunya Ka Badtareen Kafir’ (Qadianis; the world’s worst infidels) started trending and by the evening it had generated some 66 thousand interactions.

 While most of the tweets emphasized on the veracity of the Muslim faith of the finality of prophethood, others resorted to bashing Ahmadis for their interpretation of the faith. The majority of the hashtag users insisted that contrary to their belief, Qadiyanis were not Muslims.

Translation of tweets:

  1. @Smuslimmedia: Our mothers would be ashamed of us, if we didn’t rise for protecting the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
  2. @ZainTanoli19: Qadiyanis are infidels so are their friends and supporters.
  3. @zarrarmalik: This pedals the conspiracy that Ahmadiya faith is a brainchild of MI-6 to divide the Muslims
  4. @Qutab_muhammad: Declaring ‘Qadiyanis’ infidels is a consititutional right of every Pakistani
  5. @ajmalhaideri: Their lies & crocodile tears before Trump can’t vanish the fact that Qaidyanis are non-muslims as constitution approved the facts regard their Faith. There is no messenger of Allah after Muhammad PBUH & he is the last….
  6. Curse be on Qadiyanis and their friends and supporters, and whosoever curses the lovers (of the Prophet), he is a traitor to the Lord.

Others blamed the government for releasing Abdul Shakoor from the prison over alleged US pressure. They also alleged that the government had released blasphemy accused, Asia Bibi due to the same pressure.

 While some castigated Shaan Taseer, Abdul Shakoor’s translator in meeting with Trump, for allegedly toeing the ‘Qadiyani agenda’.

Translation:

Text of tweet says: If a real pig had a face, it would be this:

Text of picture says: Your curses of today will be seen as worthy on the day of judgment, and will bear witness that these curses were against the blasphemers of the Prophet (PBUH).

Alongside all the bashing and criticism, some Twitter users thought it would be apt to cause financial damages to the ‘adversary’ by boycotting their products and services. They called for boycott of products and services perceived to be owned by Ahmadis.

The hate filled activism on Twitter against the Ahmadiyya community is just the latest episode of incitement based outrage on social media platforms in Pakistan. It is necessary to take note of such activities as they can be the precursor to mob violence and targeted attacks against minority groups. We have seen in the past how failure to promptly act against such vitriol leads to such movements openly challenging the state, as was seen in the case of TLP. The government has made tackling hate speech in the online space a major priority, and if it intends to walk the walk, it is necessary to take measures wherever minorities are being targeted. Failure to do so may be perceived as apathy towards minorities at best and duplicity on hate speech crackdowns at worst.

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