The Center for Religious Freedom
held a discussion on
Pakistan's Anti-Blasphemy Laws:
The Case of the Ahmadiyya Community
Mujeeb Ijaz and Amjad Mahmood Khan
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
12:00 – 1:30 P.M.
The status of religious freedom needs to be a central focus as Washington prepares to spend an unprecedented $1.5 billion in non-military assistance for Pakistan in the coming year, intended to help strengthen the civilian government there. Human rights activists Ijaz and Khan presented an overview of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan and describe how constitutional changes between 1974 and 1984 have deprived the Ahmadiyyas of their rights as Muslims and facilitated the rise of extremism in Pakistan.
They chronicled the history and development of Pakistan's anti-blasphemy laws, with particular emphasis on their legal and constitutional underpinnings, and show how these laws oppress the Ahmadiyya Muslims. They discussed some of the root causes of extremist power and why redressing human rights abuses, particularly those arising under the anti-blasphemy laws, is consistent with U.S. foreign policy objectives in Pakistan.
Mujeeb Ijaz has been a human rights advocate representing the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA since 1996. Mr. Ijaz, a mechanical engineer, is the Director of Automotive Applications Engineering for A123 Systems, a leading global supplier of Lithium Ion batteries for the emerging Electric Vehicle Market.
Amjad Mahmood Khan, a Los Angeles attorney, is a frequent lecturer on human rights, law, and governance in Muslim majority countries. His commentaries have appeared in a variety of academic journals and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the Harvard Human Rights Journal, where he wrote on the persecution of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan. He has received several awards for his extensive pro bono legal services on behalf of refugees and disaster victims.
This lecture is part of the Center for Religious Freedom's fall series on "Lifting the Theocratic Iron Curtain: Examining the Application of Muslim Blasphemy and Apostasy Rules in the Contemporary World"
Betsy and Walter Stern Confernce Center
1015 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005