“It is extremely unfortunate that my daughters are being deprived of the most basic and fundamental human right such as education … all because of religious intolerance,” Khalil Ahmad, whose three daughters were expelled, told The Express Tribune. “I have no alternative to ensure that their education continues,” he added.
What about the constitutional provisions which ensure equal rights for all? What about the rule of law that says no discrimination can be made on the basis of faith, race, cast and creed, he questions.
“I’ve never seen Christians and students belonging to other religions ever having to deal with such restrictions,” the distraught father says.
“I personally opposed the expulsion on the basis of faith,” Muslim Public School Principal Yasir Abbas responds when contacted by The Express Tribune.
“This is not my decision … the entire village unanimously pressed me to expel all Ahmadis from the school, or else they would forcibly shut the school down,” he added.
A public meeting held in Dharanwali recently was spreading hatred against Ahmadis, Jamaat Ahmadiyya Pakistan spokesperson Saleemuddin says, adding that expulsion came in the aftermath of the intolerance that some religious preachers were bent on evoking amongst locals in the area.
“They went so far as to say that they would never allow for an Ahmadi to be buried in their graveyard, let alone allow an Ahmadi to study in a school with their children,” Saleemuddin alleges.
Soon after the hate speech, ten Ahmadi students and a teacher were expelled from local schools.
The Punjab government’s initiative allowing people to register for schools online makes it mandatory for one to disclose their religion – whether they are Muslim or Non-Muslim. “This was never the case previously. It’s very simply a calculated move to subject the Ahmadiyya community to discrimination and deprive them of their right to education,” Saleemuddin says.
Ahmadis never refer to themselves as “Non-Muslim”, but that doesn’t keep them from being kept away from educational institutions. Similarly, for the first time ever, they’ve introduced this system where religion is displayed on the Roll Number slips. “It’s like they’re making a conscious effort to mentally torture us,” he says.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2011.