Got news? Ahmadiyya refugee edition

I love all most of our reader submissions, but the other day we received one that sounded pretty surprising. It comes from Hasan Hakeem, a member of the Ahmadiyya Community and the Chaplain of the Kenosha County Jail in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I’ll go head and just quote it:

This week after spending almost 7 months at a refugee prison in central Bangkok, 96 Ahmadiyya refugees from Pakistan were released by Thai authorities, a landmark development in a country that does not formally recognize refugees despite the fact that it is currently coming to the end of its tenure as president of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The released Ahmadiyya are members of a minority Muslim group that is oppressed in Pakistan, where they are not recognized as Muslims and are often victims of sectarian violence. US Media completely ignored the story despite the fact that members of the American Ahmadiyya Community has actively fought for and provided resources for the release of the detainees.

I certainly hadn’t heard word one about this story. Had you? I did a quick Google search and not only do I not see any American media coverage of the time spent in detainment, the U.S. media isn’t even covering the release.

If we can’t be bothered to cover stories such as this, which tell us not only about a dire religious situation but a political one as well, this is a problem.

Precisely the only story I found in the U.S. media came from MSNBC.com. A photo blog posting included several pictures of detainees being released, followed by this blurb:

Ninety-six people, most of whom were arrested in December, will be released from a Bangkok detention centre on Monday, an immigration officer said.

The detained group are from Pakistan’s Ahmadi Muslim community, who suffer violence and persecution in their home country, according to the Thai Committee for Refugees, which helped organise the release.

I’m glad that MSNBC.com covered the release, but wow do we need much more information. We’ve seen other stories on the Ahmadiyya, but a dramatic incident such as this needs context and analysis and much more insight and background.

Just from the reader submission alone, we see several angles that could be pursued.

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  • Jerry

    Wikipedia has a couple of interesting articles. One references the “other stories” mention you made http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_2010_attacks_on_Ahmadi_mosques_in_Lahore and one is on the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadiyya

  • Harold

    There really is a lack of coverage. But tying into one of GR’s favorite theories, it’s notable that this story doesn’t show up in the conservative and Christian press either. My guess is the religious oppression is a concern for the conservative/Christian press only when it involves Christians facing religious persecution.

  • Ira Rifkin

    The Ahmadiyya get very little coverage for several reasons:

    Sunni and Shia groups reject them as heretical because the Ahmadiyya have their own final prophet, http://www.ahmadiyya.us/index.php/about-ahmadiyya-muslim-community, which means they are not allowed to participate in Muslim community-wide news events;

    Ahmadiyya Muslims are generally more theologically and politically liberal than mainstream Sunni/Shia community leaders/spokesmen, which means they are less quotable for many reporters/editors;

    And because even at this late date too many journalists still know comparatively little about the differences among Muslims.

    Too bad. The Ahmadiyya make an interesting story.

  • http://makaipa.blogspot.com tioedong

    check out this related story:
    Ahmadiyya Release Offers Hope for Rohingya

    It mentions that the Ahmadiyya are also being persecuted in Indonesia by extremist Muslims, so it’s not just a Pakistani problem.

    Another uncovered story of religion is the Rohingya persecution.

    The Rohingya are a Muslim group of about 1 million folks who settled in Burma a couple generations ago, but aren’t allowed to be citizens. They are now fleeing to Thailand, and they are not welcome either.

    Buddhist persecution of Muslims? Is this a story too? And how does this fit in with the Thai government fighting the small Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand?

    Does Buddhism get a pass on these things because a lot of folks in America assume that religion is a religion of peace?

  • Rafiq A. Tschannen

    Why do the Ahmadiyya Muslims get little coverage: Simple, because they are non-violent and therefore no need to be afraid of them.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Buddhist persecution of Muslims? Is this a story too? And how does this fit in with the Thai government fighting the small Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand?

    Does Buddhism get a pass on these things because a lot of folks in America assume that religion is a religion of peace?

    Because Moslems, like Christians, can only be persecutors, never persecuted, and besides, they deserve it.

    Similarly, Buddhist role in the Shogunate’s extermination of Japanese Christians is un-history.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    The International Herald Tribune published an interesting look at Ahmadiyya persecution in Faisalabad.

  • Leslie Wolf

    Sri Lanka is majority Buddhist with a significant Hindu minority and also a sizable Muslim minority. It seems to me that the Buddhist majority has certainly oppressed non-Buddhists in the country. However, I do not know enough about the conflict to say whether the Buddhists have oppressed non-Buddhists for religious reasons, or whether their reasons have been cultural, economic, or other. There certainly have been Buddhist militants, and Buddhist armies fought with non-Buddhist armies in SE Asia for centuries. So, Buddhism does not have a record of perfect peace. And is this a surprise? We are talking about human beings here.

    I hadn’t heard of the story about the Ahmadiyya refuges in Thailand. However, I did see some reporting about the attacks on Ahmadiyya in Indonesia earlier this year, though only in European papers, not in the US press.

    I don’t think that the US press doesn’t report on the Ahmadiyya because they are (or claim to be) Muslims. The US press often fails to report significant international events that have nothing to do with religion.

  • Sibyl

    Wonder if the presence of Martin Bashir has anything to do with MSNBC’s coverage of this story? He is cognizant of things in that region, being a native of Pakistan. He is also a Christian, I believe.

  • Sibyl

    As for stories being ignored while others, more politically expedient are covered as horrific, look up the killing of Asshur Issa Yakub who was kidnapped and tortured so brutally and contrast it with the coverage of the story of the 13 year old who was tortured in Syria.

    Could the fact that Yakub was of a Christian tribe have anything to do with the coverage?


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