Fri, May 10, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Persecution has eroded Pakistani minorities’ faith in democracy

As the nation prepares for elections, minority religious groups fear extremists will piggyback on the efforts of mainstream political parties to positions of power

By Kathy Gannon  /  AP, LAHORE, Pakistan

Ahmedis rarely vote in elections because to do so they have to declare they are non-Muslims, says Shahid Ataullah, a spokesman for the Ahmedi community in Lahore.

So virulent is the abhorrence of Ahmedis by Pakistan’s religious right-wing parties that many candidates in tomorrow’s elections have found it necessary to openly declare their view that Ahmedis are non-Muslims.

The country’s controversial blasphemy laws are often used to jail Ahmedis for crimes as simple as saying Assalam-o-allaikum, a traditional greeting among Muslims, and often used by non-Muslims living in predominantly Muslim countries. It means: “May the peace of God be upon you.”

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