Lahore: A 35-year-old Pakistani man belonging to the minority Ahmadi community has been stabbed to death by a “religious fanatic” over his faith in the country’s Punjab province, the police said on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s Parliament in 1974 declared the Ahmadi community as non-Muslims. A decade later, they were banned from calling themselves Muslims. They are banned from preaching and from traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
The latest incident took place in Okara district, some 130 km from here, on Tuesday.
Abdul Salam, a member of the minority Ahmadi community, was brutally stabbed to death by ”religious fanatic” Hafiz Ali Raza apparently because of his faith, senior police officer Muhammad Saddique told PTI.
”When Salam was returning from his agricultural land, Raza attacked him with a knife. Salam died on the spot with multiple wounds on his body. Raza managed to flee after raising religious slogans,” the officer said.
A case has been registered under murder and terrorism charges against the suspect.
The police officer said that the alleged killer was a seminary student and had no other apparent reason to kill Salam except his faith.
Since Salam’s murder created terror in the locality, the suspect has also been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Salam’s uncle Zafar Iqbal told the police that Raza had killed his nephew ”for his religious hatred against Ahmadis”.
He said that his nephew had no enmity whatsoever with anyone, including the killer.
”Raza is a member of the radical Islamist party, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) which promoted religious hatred in the area. After the incident, the Ahmadi families living in the Okara district are feeling highly insecure,” Iqbal said.
He urged the police to arrest the culprit at the earliest and provide security to the Ahmadi community.
”Attacks on Ahmadis are increasing with every passing day. It is becoming more difficult for Ahmadis to do even basic things like running their business or going to their work. The government is not interested in curtailing hate speech or apprehending those behind this violence,” Jamaat Ahmadiya Pakistan spokesperson Saleemuddin said on Twitter.
Minorities, especially Ahmadis, are very vulnerable in Pakistan and they are often targeted by religious extremists.
Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul Haq had made it a punishable offense for Ahmadiyyas to call themselves Muslims or to refer to their faith as Islam.
In Pakistan, around 10 million out of the 220 million population are non-Muslims.
According to the 2017 census, Hindus constitute the largest religious minority (5 million) in Pakistan. Christians make up the second-largest religious minority, with almost the same number (4.5 million) and their concentration is mostly in urban Sindh, Punjab, and parts of Balochistan.
The Ahmadis, Sikhs, and Parsi are also among the notable religious minorities in Pakistan.