Militants from Tehrik-e-Taiban have claimed responsibility for attacks in Lahore’s Garhi Shahu and Model Town mosques. The assualts left 98 dead and hundreds injured.
The mosques were home to members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a minority religious sect in Pakistan that has been facing religious persecution after being legally declared non- Muslim in 1974. Ordinances against the community prohibit followers from openly practicing their faith. Even using the Islamic greeting of ‘Assalam-o-aleikom’ could see Ahmadis facing legal action and even imprisonment.
These shocking and unforeseen attacks have left the persecuted faction with the unimaginable task of burying the dead and cleaning the up the bloodshed left behind by militant rebels.
Ijaz Ahmed from Tooting, spoke of his grief after he discovered that his uncle had been killed during the militant attacks.
He said: “Much like everyone else he had gone to read his Friday prayers with his son. My uncle, Sheikh Muhammad Ikram, was killed in the attacks. His son, Muhammad Ehsan, was also shot, but he was brought out alive and his wounds were less serious. After he had been treated he began looking for his father in all the hospitals and was unfortunately the one who identified his body.
“Words cannot describe how we feel. When we first heard the news we were shocked and worried. The images on TV were hard to watch. It was an incredibly sad day not just for the community in Lahore, but for all our members across the world.
“I think, from what I know the police did what they could and we are appreciative for that, without their help there would have been more casualties.”
Rafiq Ahmed Hayat, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK described in a statement to the Independent that: “The brazen attacks on mosques belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community might be dismissed by some as an example of sectarian conflict in Islam – but it is here that lay the roots of what later became the war on terror.”
He went to say that Ahmadiyya Muslims represented the renaissance of Islam and that: “Thousands of Ahmadi Muslims have fled – many to the West where they have integrated and led peaceful lives as beacons of how Islam is compatible with life in the 21st century.”
Many of the followers killed in the events will be buried in Rabwah, The Ahmadi headquarters in Pakistan.