In Pakistan, Muslims Habitually Prosecute and Kill Ahmadi Members For Reading or Quoting the Qur’an

Ever thought you could get arrested in an Islamic country for reading the Qur’an?

It recently happened to Massood Ahmad.

Masood Ahmad was arrested in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore last month when two men posing as patients questioned him about his faith and used mobile phones to secretly record him reading a verse from the Koran.

Why is it a crime for Mr. Ahmad to read Islam’s holy book? Simple: He’s not the right kind of Muslim.

He is … an Ahmadi, a sect that consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet after Mohammed. A 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims, and Ahmadis can be jailed for three years for posing as a Muslim or outraging Muslims’ feelings.

Outraging Muslims’ feelings, as we’ve seen time and again, is as easy as breathing.

Some Ahmadis get off lightly with a prison sentence: if what passes for a justice system in Pakistan doesn’t get them, “true” Muslims might.

Some mullahs promise that killing Ahmadis earns a place in heaven. Leaflets list their home addresses.

Three years ago, 86 Ahmadis were killed in two simultaneous attacks on Friday prayers in Lahore. There have been no mass attacks since then, but targeted killings are rising: last year 20 Ahmadis were killed, up from 11 in 2009.

Pious Pakistani Mohammedans have grander plans than just organizing a posse here and there, though.

Mullahs have twice sought the arrest of an entire town of Ahmadis — 60,000 people — for holding religious celebrations. Residents were serving food, giving out sweets and displaying bunting, the complaints said.

We would not have a problem with them if they did not use the name of Islam and the symbols of Islam,” said Tahir Ashrafi, head of the powerful Ulema Council of clerics.

Ah, thanks for clearing that up. Glad to hear that freedom of religion is otherwise alive and well in Pakistan.

Oh, wait.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.

  • LesterBallard

    Neither Islam nor Muslims have any political or legal or social power in the US, but I’d be a trifle concerned it they did.

  • David

    You have enough problem with the Christians.

  • LesterBallard

    More than enough, and they’re getting more out of control day by day. I dread the day that fucked up Christians and fucked up Muslims realize just how much they have in common and hook up. Eventually they’d turn on each other, but before that, we’d be fucked.

  • Brian

    While we like to blame religion for violence and persecution like this, i believe that this is a problem with human beings in general, and religion merely gives them the excuse to kill, harm, or persecute their fellow human beings. While religion certainly exacerbates the problems, without it, people would still find reasons to act like this.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Agreed. Humans are horrible people.

  • 3lemenope

    Whereas chickens are decent people.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Too many of them are cocky and loud. And don’t get me started on jaywalking.

  • Gerry Mooney

    Decent? They’re delicious!

  • icecreamassassin

    Out of curiosity, for this specific example, what non-religious excuse would you give to not only convince *yourself* that you are righteous for doing this horrible crap, but also to convince *others* that you’re righteous?

  • Steve Bowen

    It’s true, people may squable over resources or get into some blood feud over past misdeeds but only religion would make someone persecute somebody for saying words out of a book while believing something slighty different

  • 3lemenope

    Say that on any fan website for any book ever, see how far it takes you. If it were possible to kill people by willing it through the Internet, many would have done so.

  • Steve Bowen

    Well yeah, but fantasy and reality are usually different countries. I just wished Peter Hitchens dead after listening to his blowhard bollocks on t.v tonight, but I wouldn’t actually kill him if I met him…

  • Eivind Drivdal

    So, in principle, people should blow buildings up over claims that Han shot first ?

    Happily, it doesn’t tend to work that way in the real world. Heated debate ? Absolutely ! Blowing people up for believing the wrong interpretation of a story ? Not so much.

  • 3lemenope


  • Eivind Drivdal

    Yes, if the claim that absent religion, people would just find other reasons for doing this was true, then we “should expect” that the same level of violence was attached to other beliefs — but in practice we rarely see this, thus I think it’s justified to claim that religion DOES have a worse track-record in justifying violence than other beliefs do.

  • pete084

    Tribal loyalties!

    Religion is just another facet of tribalism, it also manifests itself in sport supporters, politics, even the forces, with regimental and battalion rivalries. It’s instinctive for humans to want to be part of a group, and group loyalties can divide, as witnessed with the A+ fiasco recently.

    You might be rational and civilised enough not to bloody the nose of someone not in your social group who threatens that group in some way, but an irrational person might. A fellow American may appear to be a tribal buddy but he may be from the wrong state, support the wrong team, attend the wrong church or worship the wrong god, or the right god in the wrong way.

    Some humans find it difficult to accept that we’re not all the same.

  • 3lemenope

    I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: “Stop. Don’t do it.”

    “Why shouldn’t I?” he asked.

    “Well, there’s so much to live for!”

    “Like what?”

    “Are you religious?”

    He said, “Yes.”

    I said, “Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?”


    “Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”


    “Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?”


    “Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?”

    “Baptist Church of God.”

    “Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?”

    “Reformed Baptist Church of God.”

    “Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?”

    He said: “Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915.”

    I said: “Die, heretic scum,” and pushed him off.


  • RoxnSox

    That’s an Emo Philips joke…

  • Richard Wade

    These lunatics very devout believers have medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads, and they’re not far from developing some with intercontinental range.

  • WalterWhite007

    I can’t believe these muslims that argue over such silly details. Everyone knows the FSM (his noodly appendage, the Flying Spaghetti Monster) is the one TRUE god!!!

  • Richard Wade

    Reform Marinara, or Reform Meat Sauce?

    Die, heretic scum! 😉

  • The Other Weirdo

    Butter, of course.

  • m6wg4bxw

    I’m with the Semolinan church, but I accept you, brother.

  • JT Rager

    Reformed Marinara. No TRUE Pastafarian wouldn’t be a vegetarian as well. Admit it, you just like to sin all the time by eating your meat sauce!

  • Artor

    But how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

  • Gehennah

    In order to be closer to the all mighty one, you must be eat of him. Therefore no true follower would be a vegetarian.


  • JT Rager

    Thou shalt not use teeth when tasting his balls in thy mouth, for they will make him writhe in agony.

  • Gehennah

    ::pops in a meatball::

    nom nom nom, so tasty

  • Feminerd

    What about soy or mushroom “meatballs”? Those can be delicious.

  • Gehennah

    Do not be tempted by thy soy or mushroomy meatballs for while they are sweet, they are wicked at heart, and impure.

  • Feminerd

    Oh, so they fit in perfectly then ;-P

    For are not all true Pastafarians wicked at heart and impure?

  • Nullifidian

    Well, there aren’t many Jews left in Pakistan, and you know, ya gotta hate someone.

  • Aerial View

    It seems being someone else is regarded as not being a TRUE believer.

  • guest

    I hope the British consulate is helping him.
    This is ridiculous. Isn’t there a freedom of religion clause in the UN Human rights thingy somewhere?
    I just don’t understand how people can resent other people for putting up bunting and fucking giving out sweets! Why can’t people just get along? There are enough things in the world trying to kill us- volcanoes, viruses, earthquakes etc without us turning on each other.
    Of course something similar happened to the early mormons when they said there was another prophet after Jesus.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Why would the UN be even remotely relevant to this discussion?

  • guest

    why wouldn’t they? Who else is going to help people who are being persecuted like this? They intervene (sometimes) in cases of genocide. Seems like, if this goes on, there could be mass murder at some point.

  • The Other Weirdo

    So, by intervene, you must mean military force. Who is going to provide this force? Not other Muslim nations, they wouldn’t want to set a bad precedent for themselves. I know. We could send Indian forces in.

  • Whitney Currie

    I have to wonder exactly how Muslims define the word “peace”. Seems like a whole lot of killing, imprisonment, and beatings from here.

  • Feminerd

    The peace of the grave?

  • Gehennah

    Not all Muslims are extremists, I’d argue that most aren’t and are fairly peaceful.

    But the peace for the extremists, probably the peace they will feel when the entire world is Muslim.

    Oh, and only if you are a man, because women are worthless to them.

  • Artor

    About the same way Xians define the word, “love.”

  • Randay

    About the same way American neocons and the government define “peace”.

  • Michael R

    Muhammad the prophet was a terrorist:

    Muslim countries in the Middle East are in a post-colonial phase. As the colonial influence declines, Muslim countries are reverting to type i.e. in the image of Muhammad the terrorist:

    Therefore, it is not newsworthy when Muslims in Pakistan do as Muhammad did, it’s entirely predictable. It would be newsworthy if there were an organised movement AWAY from Islam. But there isn’t any organised opposition to Islam in the Middle East. And so it’s crazy to expect anything other than increasing chaos and mayhem in a region that is reverting to type. It’s not news, it’s a region-wide reversion to type.

  • Matt Hunter

    Rather than dropping bombs in the middle east we should be dropping text books. Education will set the ignorant free and all of their religious leaders will hang by their own entrails once the population realizes what’s been done to them.

  • John Williams

    Didn’t know that Islam had its equivalent of Mormonism. Who knew?