World Shia Forum supports SFSR and AMBA’s statement for the rights of Shia Muslims in Pakistan
During the last 42 years, there has been a slow-motion genocide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. While local authorities and rights groups have been reluctant to provide detailed databases, Independent groups like LUBP have prepared Databases that estimate upwards of 24,000 casualties. Shia Genocide Database: A detailed account of Shia killings in Pakistan from 1955 […]
During the last 42 years, there has been a slow-motion genocide of Shia Muslims in Pakistan. While local authorities and rights groups have been reluctant to provide detailed databases, Independent groups like LUBP have prepared Databases that estimate upwards of 24,000 casualties.
It is heartening to see local organizations endorsing this statement by SFSR and AMBA. It is imperative that more local organizations support and endorse this statement. Your organization may sign using this link.
Not only do many of us have roots and relatives in Pakistan. More than that, what happens in South Asia dictates the course of Muslims in North America and the Western world.
South Asian Muslims alone constitute over 700 million people in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
Pakistan and India have significant Shia Muslim populations that are estimated to be 70-80 million. The current government’s policies have emboldened and enabled Takfiri Deobandi groups that not only threaten Shia Muslims but Sufi Sunnis, Christians, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and Hindus. The wave of violence and hatred spread by Takfiri groups is antithetical to the notion of Free Speech that we cherish in America.
Sipah e Sahaba worship Ommayad Caliphs like Yazeed bin Muawiyah and oppose any criticism of historical figures who massacred the family of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and usurped their rights.
Imagine Neo-Nazis making any criticism of Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels illegal in the United States. Or Satanists killing Presbyterian doctors because some Presbyterian ministers denounced Satan and the evil deeds attributed to him.
This is exactly the platform of ISIS-affiliated groups like Sipah e Sahaba (also operating as ASWJ or LeJ).
Statement Against Persecution of Shia Muslims in Pakistan
“And hold fast to the rope of God, all together, and be not divided. Remember the Blessing of God bestowed upon you, when you were enemies and He joined your hearts, such that you became brothers by His Blessing. You were on the brink of a pit of fire and He delivered you from it. Thus does God make clear unto you His signs, that you may be rightly guided.”
—Qur’an, Surah Al-Imran (3:103)
Solidarity for Shia Religious Rights (SFSR), a collective of concerned Shia Muslim advocates, along with the American Muslim Bar Association (AMBA) stands in solidarity with the Shia Muslims of Pakistan. We stand firmly against the persecution and state-sanctioned violence perpetrated against Pakistani Shia Muslims and call on the Pakistani government to cease all human rights violations and state-sanctioned oppression against them. We also call upon the United States government and international actors to denounce the violence and facilitate an end to these human rights abuses through diplomatic and international pressure.
New Wave of Anti-Shia Persecution in Pakistan and State-Sanctioned Violence
Shia Muslims, who constitute about a fifth of the population of Pakistan, have been victims of sectarian violence for over five decades. The rise in systemic violence against Shia Muslims stems predominantly from banned, violent anti-Shia organizations such as Sipah-e-Sahaba (operating as Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat (ASWJ) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ)) and other Takfiri groups. This latest wave was ignited by the emergence of a controversial sectarian and censorship bill, wrongfully exploiting Chapter XV of Pakistan’s Penal Code. The bill is deliberately ambiguous, subject to interpretation, and perpetuates unlawful and arbitrary arrests that are in contradiction to the provision for freedom of religious rights enshrined in Part Two, Chapter One, Subsection 20 of the Pakistani constitution.
The leaders of these Takfiri organizations are mobilizing masses in anti-Shia rallies and inciting violence against Shia Muslims through hate-filled speeches. A cornerstone of these demonstrations is a chant declaring Shia Muslims as “Kafir,” a derogatory word for blasphemous non-believers, implicitly justifying the killing of Shia Muslims. The Pakistani government has failed to take meaningful action to condemn or denounce these divisive rallies. Instead, the government has enabled and furthered their oppression by permitting organizations previously banned for such sectarian hate speech to attend under the guise of a different name.
Additionally, the Pakistani government continues to carry out its own persecution of Shia Muslims by enabling state-sanctioned violence. This year alone saw a rise in state-sanctioned violence and targeting of Shia Muslims, particularly during the Islamic month of Muharram. As Shia Muslims attempted to peacefully and openly practice their mourning rituals, the government carried out a slew of arbitrary arrests of Shia clergy and those simply practicing their Shia faith openly.
Across the country, mobs defiled Shia places of worship while Shia Muslims were killed in planned targeted attacks. The sectarian violence by Takfiri organizations includes targeted killings of Shia Muslims. This has severely impacted the Shia community’s religious rights and safety to practice their faith as enshrined in the Pakistani constitution as well as in numerous international covenants to which Pakistan is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
Pakistan’s government is able yet unwilling to protect the rights of the Shia Muslims and has further perpetrated violence against Shia Muslims and religious minorities through the manipulation of Chapter XV of the Pakistani Penal Code.
Call to Action:
- Ban all Takfiri extremist organizations that incite violence and promote hate speech against Shia Muslims and other marginalized communities in Pakistan, including those operating under new names such as ASWJ and LeJ.
- Urge the Pakistani government to cease using Chapter XV of Pakistan’s Penal Code (sections 295. 298., 298-A., and 298-B) in a manner which arbitrarily targets and persecutes Shia Muslims, as is currently the situation. Furthermore, the Pakistani government must adhere to and enforce the principles of religious freedom enshrined in Part Two, Chapter One, Subsection Twenty of the Pakistani Constitution,
- Demand the immediate dismissal of all FIRs against Shia Muslims that were filed under Chapter XV of Pakistan’s Penal Code and call for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained prisoners under this clause.
- Call on the United States government and international human rights monitoring mechanisms to ensure that Pakistan is in compliance with its obligations under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Under these conventions, it is Pakistan’s responsibility to respect its citizens’ freedom of religion and right to practice their faith.
- Urge the Pakistani government to take active steps to more explicitly and categorically include Shia Muslim scholars and representatives in governmental and religious bodies to proactively increase inclusivity and reduce oppression of marginalized groups in Pakistan.
Pakistan has had a troubled history with violence against Shia Muslims and other marginalized religious communities over the last several decades. While the people and nations have taken steps to overcome these problems, the threat of extremism persists and much more sustained action is necessary. The current oppression against the Shia Muslim community is posing a major threat to the political and economic stability of our nation. There is an urgent need for the Pakistani government to address this matter and safeguard the safety of all its people.
American Muslim Bar Association
Solidarity for Shia Religious Rights