The Condemned: A documentary on Ahmadi persecution

By Rabia Mehmood

‘The condemned’ is an endeavor to capture the persecution faced by the minority Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan – from their eyes.

The short documentary is a collection of testimonies in which those Ahmadis who have faced persecution narrate the target killings of loved ones, discrimination at the hands of fellow students and what it is like to live in jail as a blasphemy convict.

A town called Rabwah

Rabwah, is a town of District Jhang with the highest population of Ahmadis in Pakistan. The town is also home to some who have been convicted of blasphemy and under the anti-Ahmadi Ordinance of 1984, making them prisoners in this town.

A major chunk of the report was filmed in Rabwah and identities of some community members have been hidden for the sake of their security. The young man who shares the story of the horrors his family faced after his brother was accused of blasphemy has now left Pakistan. Therefore, we took the risk of showing his face on-camera. The town still provides a sense of security for the rest, so the condemned could speak with hidden faces.

Terror and truth

“Is she sure she will be able to run the interviews? What about the censorship, what about the backlash?”

These were the questions asked when this scribe approached the Ahmadi community members for the video report on their plight. Such concerns arose as a consequence of their experience with the mainstream Urdu press, who finally dared to address the Ahmadi debate after the May 28, 2010 bombings at two Ahmadi places of worship in Lahore. Unfortunately, the Urdu press continued its precedent of not covering the faith-based target killings of Ahmadis, not raising the question of discrimination faced by this community, and continuing to cover events by different religious organizations that are openly anti-Ahmadi.

However, the regular coverage of Ahmadi persecution and threat to the lives of community members by leading English publications eventually opened space to allow video documentation of the persecution of this minority group.

 

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