On October 17, over 130 people, including dozens of professors and students, attended a special academic discussion held in Princeton about religious extremism in Pakistan.
The event, moderated by Princeton Professor of Economics Dr. Atif Mian, included two distinguished panelists: Pakistani journalist and commentator Raza Rumi and Pakistani jurist and scholar Mujeeb-ur-Rahman.
Rumi, who survived an assassination attempt earlier this year for his outspoken views against religious extremism, discussed the tragic plight of Pakistan’s religious minorities and the state-facilitated restriction of fundamental human rights.
“Militants in Pakistan have an objective of eliminating minorities to ‘purify’ the land,” said Rumi. “How ironic and tragic since the very word ‘Pakistan’ means ‘land of the pure.'” He described Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws as “surreal” and from a “dark novel by Marquez or Kafka.”
Rahman, who spent over 53 years defending oppressed religious minorities, described how Pakistan’s Constitution has stripped his right (and million of other Ahmadi Muslims) from self-identifying as “Muslims.” He lamented the pernicious consequences of such a constitutional pronouncement.
“Faith is a matter of conscience, and conscience can never be coerced,” Rahman exclaimed, “I refuse to pollute my conscience on the bidding of Pakistan’s Parliament.”