Sunday, November 27, 2011

Female student expelled in Pakistan because of blasphemy allegations

By Rodrick Samson, 
Special to ASSIST News Service

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A female Ahmadi student in her final year of studies, has been expelled from CIIT (COMSATS Institute of Information Technology) in Lahore on allegations of blasphemy.

According to sources, Rabia Saleem was accused of blasphemy by the student wing of the a banned organization TKN (Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat). Rabia Saleem is a student in her final year at CIIT and lived in the hostel. Apparently, she removed a banner displayed by TKN against the Ahmadi community which had been posted on the hostel door. She is an Amhadi herself, and the hostel guard saw her removing the poster and created a scene, exploiting the situation and accusing her of committing blasphemy by dishonoring the verses of the Quran.

Nasreen Ghulam, another CIIT student, said the banner displayed at the hostel door contained material against the Ahmadis, but didn't have any Quranic verses, and that Saleem was falsely accused for her faith.

Rasheed Ahmed Khan, the Registrar of the institute, denied any connection between the removal of the poster and the student’s faith. “Rabia Saleem has been expelled for violating the discipline of the Institution and not complying with the rules and regulations.” He refused to provide a copy of the notice that was served to the student on her dismissal.

A CIIT faculty member, on condition of anonymity said, "It was a petty matter, and could have been resolved by the warden and the administration, but the warden, along with the security guard and CIIT administration, exploited the situation against the Ahmadi student.

“The administration has a very discriminating attitude towards religious minorities and never leaves a chance to take action against them. In the past, several similar incidents have taken place, but the administration allowed the Tahaffuz-e-Khatam-e-Nabuwwat to continue their propaganda against the Ahmadis. The administration allows the TKN to act, and because of the support from the administration they have become stronger. The religious organizations should be barred from all the educational institutes, they are harboring terrorists by allowing such organizations to act freely and do whatever they like."

The TKN has been displaying banners against the Ahmadis, and the administration has expelled the student with TKN`s support and allowed them to display banners containing hatred against the religious minorities and to protest against the Ahmadis. They announced they will not allow any Ahmadi student to live on the campus and will even kill if any of them resists. TKN has also started campaigns against the Ahmadis on various social networks as well.

The CIIT administration is allowing such extremist activities to continue in the campus, and the concerned authorities and the Ministry of Education are silently observing the situation, while allowing the propaganda against the Ahmadi students.

The Ahmadis have been living in continuous fear since earlier this year an Ahmadi Seminary was attacked in Lahore, and hundreds of innocent people were killed. In the past several years, persecution against the Ahmadis has been on the rise.

In September, an 8th grader was expelled for a spelling mistake in the Urdu exam in Abbotabad. Her mother was also transferred from Abbotabad.

Humanitarian organizations, Masihi Foundation and Life for All Pakistan, have come out against the incident and issued a joint statement, which says: "We strongly condemn the incident. The administration of the institution must be condemned for supporting a religious organization and allowing them to act against the Code of Conduct. The institution`s spokesperson said that the Ahmadi student was expelled for violating discipline; (but) displaying banners against religious minorities is not a violation of the discipline? Openly announcing a religious minority liable to be killed is allowed in an educational institution, is this not violation of the regulations and humanity? Where are we headed? Why was a banner against a religious minority allowed to be displayed at the hostel door? Many students suffer discrimination in the educational institutions, but no one addresses the matter. I fail to understand the role of the education Ministry, if they don’t do anything for the education, then what is the need of having such a department, it is merely a burden on the nation, simply abolish such ministries which are not performing their designated duties. The state is allowing the religious hatred to grow and is not taking notice of the growing persecution. The extremist mindset is growing and taking over. If this continues, Pakistan will lose all the sane people alive. Ensuring the safety of the minorities is the state`s responsibility.”

“Quaid-e-Azam,the founder of Pakistan, said every citizen has the right to practice his or her religion freely, anyone`s religion is their personal matter, and not the matter of the State.

“Is today`s Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam`s Pakistan? The Director of COMSATS should have immediately resigned because of such a shameful incident.

“This is the reason religious and state affairs should be kept separate. The concerned authorities must intervene and take the necessary action. The growing extremism in the educational institutions must be checked, no one should be allowed to speak or do anything against any religion. Tolerance and harmony must be promoted, the religious leaders must play a positive role and condemn such incidents, so that in the future, students like Rabia Saleem do not suffer. The only Pakistani who won the Noble Peace Prize, Abdul Salam, was never given the place he deserved only because he was an Ahamdi. It is about time the government takes steps to end the religious extremism before it consumes the nation like a plague."
Rodrick Samson is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan

** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

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