Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
According to a recent news item catered by various news agencies, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has imposed a travel ban on citizens of 13 Muslim-dominated countries including Pakistan. Official UAE sources told Reuters that the visas had been “temporarily stopped” over security concerns. This travel ban came into effect from November 18, 2020.
Official document on this matter said, applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended indefinitely for nationals of Pakistan along with 12 more nations including Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Turkey etcetera.
This travel ban took effect a week after the French Embassy in the UAE urged its citizens to maintain vigilance following a bomb attack in Saudi Arabia on diplomats claimed by Islamic State. The explosion occurred during a World War I commemoration ceremony in Jeddah was the first attack in years where explosives were used in an attempt to hit foreigners in the kingdom.
The travel ban also comes two months after UAE established formal ties with Israel, a move that broke with decades of Arab policy and angered some Muslim nations and communities, while others welcomed it.
Confirming the travel ban, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the United Arab Emirates had stopped processing new visas for its citizens and those of some other Muslim nations.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, there is an alarming rise in murders of Ahmadis, who are deemed as apostates due to pressure from the radical Muslims in that country. In Pakistan, Ahmadis are forbidden from calling themselves as Muslims or using Islamic symbols in their religious practices. They have been facing severe discrimination and violence over accusations their faith insults Islam and community leaders say that open vitriol and calls for violence against the Ahmadis had intensified in 2017.
In Pakistan, there have been at least five apparently targeted killings of the members of the Ahmadiyya community since July 2020. Authorities in Pakistan have long downplayed, and at times even encouraged, violence against Ahmadis, whose rights to freedom of religion and belief are not respected under that country’s law.
Successive Pakistani governments have failed to protect the human rights and security of the Ahmadiyya community. The penal code explicitly discriminates against religious minorities and targets Ahmadis by prohibiting them from “indirectly or directly posing as a Muslim”. Ahmadis are banned from declaring or propagating their faith publicly, building mosques, or making the Muslim call for prayer.
Pakistan authorities arbitrarily arrest, detain, and charge Ahmadis for blasphemy and other offenses because of their religious beliefs. The police have often been complicit in harassment and bringing fabricated charges against Ahmadis or have not intervened to stop anti-Ahmadi violence. The government’s failure to address religious persecution of Ahmadis has facilitated violence against them in the name of religion.
It may be mentioned here that Pakistani society, by and large, are followers of radical Islam and they have been traditionally tight-lipped against Islamist terrorism or jihad. Pakistan is amongst those few Muslim nations that also blindly support notoriety of Hamas in particular and openly labels Jews and Israel as “enemies of Allah” and Islam.
(The writer is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-jihadist journalist, counter-terrorism specialist and editor of Blitz)