Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-California) and Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) released the following statements following the brutal killing of Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar in Pakistan this weekend. Qamar, an American cardiologist from Columbus, Ohio, was gunned down in front of his wife and toddler son. He was reportedly shot 10 times by one of two men on motorbike as he entered a cemetery to visit a family grave. He was an Ahmadiyya Muslim, a religious community that faces severe governmental and social discrimination in Pakistan. Dr. Qamar was in Pakistan on a humanitarian mission, providing free services to all those in need of medical care, regardless of religion. He leaves behind a wife and three sons, ages 16, 6 and 2.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar who was brutally killed simply for his faith. Discrimination, hatred and violence toward the Ahmadiyya community has long been sanctioned by Pakistan and must be addressed by U.S. foreign policy,” said Congresswoman Speier. “We cannot tolerate the cold-blooded killings of American citizens traveling abroad. Qamar was a humanitarian silenced forever for selflessly caring for others regardless of religious differences. Peace, education, pluralism, racial and gender equality are the hallmarks of the Ahmadi people and true religious freedom is an absolute essential human right. I will continue to stand in solidarity with Ahmadiyya Muslims as they seek to live in a world free from hatred.”
“Dr. Qamar’s assassination is symptomatic of an environment in Pakistan that is hostile to religious freedom at both the governmental and societal level. Grievous violations routinely occur that especially impact religious minorities including Ahmadis, Christians and Hindus. I have called on the State Department to designate Pakistan a Country of Particular Concern for these very reasons. Dr. Qamar was an American citizen on a selfless humanitarian mission. His grieving family must be given every assurance that America’s first freedom, religious freedom, will be a cornerstone of U.S. engagement with Pakistan, which to date it has not been,” said Congressman Wolf.
Pakistan’s constitution explicitly declares that Ahmadis are non-Muslims and denies them equal rights with other Pakistani citizens, which can create a climate of impunity surrounding attacks against Ahmadis. The country’s draconian blasphemy laws further contribute to the problem.
U.S. Representatives Wolf and Speier co-chair the recently launched Ahmadiyya Muslim Caucus in the House of Representatives.