Recently, my Ahmadi former student in Calgary tagged me in a Facebook post. He expressed his frustration at yet another Ahmadi mosque targeted by a frenzied mob in the Pakistani city of Chakwal. He looks up to me as a big brother. Naturally, whenever he feels let down by a country he loves deeply, he asserts his brotherly right and reaches out for me.
This incident falls in the long list of persecution and daily oppression of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. Recently, some Ahmadis were also arrested for espousing their beliefs in the city of Rabwah. These tensions flared up as the Pakistani government decided to recognize Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam, who was sidelined for being an Ahmadi.
Imagine being persecuted by law for practicing your faith in schools, offices and public spaces. My former student told me that his office colleagues had stopped having lunch with him when they found out about his Ahmadi beliefs. Such social ostracism only throws a minority community into the closet.
LGBTQ persons understand this closet very well. They know the burden of hiding as an invisible minority. They understand what it means to live under the threat of being effaced on the basis of beliefs or orientation. They are well acquainted with hatred that not only wreaks oppression but also blames one for inviting that oppression.
It is in recognizing our common struggles inspite of our differences that we fully affirm our common humanity. Indeed, as activists describe, all oppression is connected. It is for this reason minority groups must proactively express solidarity with one another. This means that the LGBTQ community, the Ahmadis and their intersection can and must unite in the face of hatred.
On an individual basis, I cannot stem the tide of oppression against Ahmadis. I cannot tell my former student that this persecution will end in the near future. As is, clerics have announced that they would attack the Chakwal mosque again this Friday, December the 16th, the same day when the Taliban killed 132 school children in Peshawar in 2014.
We can, however, sign online petitions, donate to causes, write letters to politicians, and raise awareness amongst our respective communities. We can host inter-community and intra-community events to bring people together on the basis of our common humanity.
Some are even asking the Canadian government to probe a Canadian citizen for his alleged involvement in raising funds in Canada and using them to orchestrate the Chakwal mosque attack.
On my part, I can tell my former student that my old shoulder will always be there for him to lean on. Some years ago I suggested that he leave Pakistan. In the wake of the Chakwal mosque attack I told him that no amount of Ahmadi persecution would satisfy the blood lust of those who will not rest until the last Ahmadi is wiped out off Pakistan.
I told him that such goons and the many who remain silent in the face of oppression have forfeited their God given critical faculties to popular ideologues. They talk about Palestine and Kashmir when their own house is rife with zulm (oppression).
I told my former student that since supremacism does not respond to reason but power, we must be prepared to be much stronger.
Through this blog and the following signatures, I would also like to tell him that he is not alone. Many LGBTQ friends will stand by him and his community, including his former teacher.
Jamila Tharp, Unitarian Universalist Community Minister, Imam - Muslims for Progressive Values
Kelly Wentworth, Secretary - Muslims for Progressive Values, President - MPV Atlanta
Frank Testin, Dignity Canada Dignite
Imam Daayiee Abdullah - President and Chair, MECCA Institute
Larry Derkach, Executive Director, Jewish Family Services Edmonton
Nabil Ahmad Khan
Rev. Liz-Carter Morgan
Rev. James Ravenscroft
Rev. Dr. Nancy Steeves
Dr. Dawn Waring
Dr. Junaid Jahangir
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