An Australian man will turn to the Australian Government for help after his 81-year-old Ahmadi Muslim father was imprisoned in Pakistan last month.
Khalid Ahmad’s father, Abdul Shakoor, who owns a bookshop in Pakistan where the Ahmadi faith is outlawed, made international headlines when he was jailed for eight years in December for selling books deemed hurtful or hateful to another religious group’s beliefs.
The 81-year-old, who has run the book store in Rabwah since 1988, was charged under a set of blasphemy laws which specifically target Ahmadi Muslims, according to the Huffington Post.
Seeking help to save his father, Khalid reached out to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Victoria, based in Langwarrin, and is calling on the Federal Government to use any influence it can.
“The Australian Government can put political stress on the Pakistani government to abolish this law which doesn’t protect us,” Khalid said.
“We have been persecuted for a long, long time.”
In 1974 the Pakistani Government adopted a law declaring Ahmadis to be non-Muslims and the country is reported as the only Muslim country that has used its constitution to persecute a specific group.
Khalid, who speaks to his parents on the phone several times a day, was “shattered” when his mum told him the book store had been raided and his father arrested.
“I rang them and talked to my dad for a few minutes but a few hours later I got a call from my mum and she told me he’d been arrested and we don’t know where they’ve taken him,” he said.
“I was completely shattered to hear about this.”
Holt MP Anthony Byrne has previously praised the efforts of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association and highlighted the faith’s persecution around the world in a speech to Federal Parliament.
In 2014 Star News reported on Alam Mahmood Butt from Narre Warren whose younger brother was shot dead by unknown assailants in Kamra, Pakistan, in what was believed to be another targeted attack on someone from the minority Ahmadi faith.
Prior to this, the News reported on Berwick-based Ahmadiyya Muslim Waheed Ahmad Chatha, whose cousin was also fatally shot in Pakistan in what was also thought to be a targeted attack.
Pakistan has the largest population of Ahmadi Muslims in the world, with an estimated 2 to 5 million living in the country.