Artists' Television Access


Wednesday, July 14, 2004, 8:00 pm, $5

The  Ahmadiyas are a small Muslim sect that is at the center of a growing storm  in South Asia. A relatively recent sect, they believe that their spiritual leader was also a Prophet after Prophet Mohammed.  Because of this belief, Islamist Parties calls them “heretics” and accuse them of “spoiling the spirit of Islam.”

In 1974, after decades of violent protests, Islamic extremists succeeded in banning the Ahmadiyas inPakistan. Today, Pakistani Ahmadiyas cannot  call themselves Muslim, pray, or build mosques. Even in death, there is no escape from the state– the law prohibits putting Islamic prayers on Ahmadiya gravestones.

In 2003, the anti-Ahmadiya campaign spread to Bangladesh, which was once part of Pakistan. In January 2004, the Bangladesh government banned all Ahmadiya  books, and followed this with a push for Blasphemy Law.

 The crisis over Ahmadiyas reflects a larger battle for Islam’s soul–  a struggle between reformers who want separation of mosque and state, and fundamentalists who want Islamic Law in all aspects of life.

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